A federal judge has set March 16 2009 as the date for the Extreme Associates obscenity trial.
Judge Gary L. Lancaster in 2005 dismissed the charges brought against Extreme Associates and Robert Zicari, aka Rob Black, and Janet Romano aka Lizzie Borden. The Justice Department lawyers alleged the adult films were obscene because they
contained extreme adult material.
The Justice Department then appealed to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which overturned Lancaster's decision in December 2005.
A federal court case in Pennsylvania will determine whether a California company violated obscenity laws when it distributed pornography in the Keystone State.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Sunday that in the case of United States vs. Extreme Associates begins March 16.
The owners of Extreme Associates, which makes pornography featuring scenes of rape, torture, murder and defecation, are accused of sending their products to Pennsylvania, violating local standards of decency.
The newspaper reported that jurors in the case will have to decide whether the materials are patently offensive and whether the materials they have any serious artistic, literary, social or political value.
The questions have to be viewed through the lens of contemporary community standards, the newspaper said, noting that when the U.S. Supreme Court established current obscenity law in its 1973 decision in Miller vs. California, it did not
go about defining those standards.
H. Louis Sirkin, an obscenity lawyer who represents the defendants, says the standards of cyberspace rather than community standards of western Pennsylvania should be used to gauge his clients' conduct.
In the longest running obscenity case in American history, Extreme Associate owners Rob Black and Lizzy Borden have each entered guilty pleas to one count of conspiracy to distribute obscene material. Trial had been scheduled to begin with jury
selection on Monday.
The plea capped a legal battle, begun in 2003 with a 10-count indictment, that had promised to deal with cutting edge free speech issues.
In fact, just three videos were indicted - Forced Entry and Cocktails 2 , both directed by Borden, and Extreme Teen 24 , credited to Stanley Ferrara but reportedly the work of several directors - as well as six video
But as noted in AVN's recent editorial , defense of obscenity requires huge amounts of cash, and with Extreme Associates long closed, and Black and Borden reportedly employed only sporadically - and with an almost universal lack of support from
the adult industry - it was too much to expect that attorneys H. Louis Sirkin and Jennifer Kinsley would be willing to handle the projected two-week trial (and its subsequent appeals) on a pro bono basis.
Estimates of the possible sentences that could be imposed under the plea have ranged from as little as 10 months in prison for each individual defendant to as much as five years, and a possible fine of $250,000 for each individual and the
corporation. The couple will be sentenced on July 1.
Rob Zicari better known as Rob Black and his wife Janet Romano (stage name Lizzie Borden) were each sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison after pleading guilty to once count of conspiracy to distribute obscene materials last March.
As part of the guilty plea, Zicari and Romano admitted that through the parent company of XPW, Extreme Associates, Inc., they mailed three obscene movies to Pennsylvania, where this whole thing started.
The movies that essentially brought down the company were Forced Entry - Director's Cut, Cocktails 2 - Directors Cut , and Extreme Teen #24 .
They also got in hot water for distributing the material through Internet streams.
As part of of their plea agreement the couple was also sentenced to a two year probationary term upon their release from prison.