Even On A 'Quiet Day,' New Developments in Isaacs Obscenity Trial

LOS ANGELES—When we last left Ira Isaacs, the guy who's the defendant in the federal government's only currently-filed prosecution for obscenity, he and his attorney had been ordered to return to the courtroom today at 2 p.m. to consider whether jurors needed to be asked additional questions based on their answers to the 14-page questionnaires they spent yesterday morning filling out—but what a difference a day makes!

According to informed sources, Isaacs' attorney Roger Jon Diamond received a call late yesterday afternoon from Judge George H. King's law clerk, ordering the attorneys to report to the courtroom at 8 a.m. today rather than at 2 this afternoon, but no reason was given.

But as the day progressed, the reason became clear: Judge King had ordered the clerk to round up another pool of 100 potential jurors to supplement the 70 or so who were left as court adjourned yesterday. While the judge may simply have been exercising extra caution to make sure there would be no delays in starting the testimonial part of the trial, the more likely explanation is that the responses to the questionnaires from many if not most in the first juror panel raised such concerns over possible bias and other problems that the attorneys' ability to find 12 jurors plus alternates from the existing panel would be compromised, necessitating an even larger pool to draw from.

But with two juror pools now tasked with filling out questionnaires and being questioned by Diamond and the Justice Department's attorneys, CEOS Deputy Chief Damon A. King and trial attorney Michael W. Grant, and possibly even some from Judge King himself, it's unlikely that much if any testimony will be taken tomorrow.

And then there's the other big news: Salon.com reporter Tracy Clark-Flory, who several months ago had received a subpoena from the Justice Department requiring her to testify at the Isaacs trial, was notified just this afternoon that her presence would no longer be required.

"I don't remember when exactly I was contacted by the prosecution, but there'd been a lot of talk leading up to the actual subpoena," Clark-Flory told AVN. "They were trying to feel out my willingness to take the stand. And frankly, we thought that they wouldn't actually subpoena me in the end because I had so little to offer the case, but it ended up that they did, and that was a bit of a surprise."

As Clark-Flory noted in her article on Salon.com posted today, she believes that the government had intended to focus on one statement contained in an interview she did with Isaacs back in April of last year, where in answer to a question about Isaacs' intention to prove that the videos he sold had artistic merit, he replied, "I have to do that to sound not guilty."

"The prosecution is presumably interested in this passage," Clark-Flory wrote, "because it’s possible to interpret Isaacs’ response as an admission that he doesn’t actually believe his own defense. (It’s also possible to read the rest of the interview, which includes discussions of James Joyce and Franz Kafka, and come to a very different conclusion.) I’m not a telepath, nor an expert voice analyst, so all I can say is that Isaacs said what I said he said. We offered a sworn affidavit that says as much, but I have nonetheless been 'commanded,' as the subpoena puts it, to appear in court."

We asked Clark-Flory whether either she or her attorneys had attempted to have the subpoena quashed on the grounds of reporter's privilege, a right recognized by many states including California.

"My understanding from what my lawyers have said is that they didn't move to quash it because we were assured that the scope of the questioning would be limited," she responded. "But they did file a brief, I believe earlier today, but I have no idea whether that's what changed things or if there was some other element at play."

And her reaction to the withdrawal of the subpoena?

"After months and months and months of build-up, and a lot of back-and-forth between my lawyers and the prosecution, it's definitely anti-climactic, I have to say," she stated, "but it is nice to not actually have to deal with going on the stand, that's for sure."

"I'll keep an eye [on the trial] from afar," she added. "I'll keep an eye on [AVN's] reporting and it'll be interesting to see how it all unfolds."

Jury selection is now scheduled to resume at 7 a.m. on Wednesday—likely a hardship for some potential jurors who came to court from more than 200 miles away—but after all, isn't it everyone's duty to help the courts figure out whether a person should spend possibly upwards of 10 years in prison for making and/or selling movies?