Ira Isaacs Obscenity Trial Begins

LOS ANGELES - Just days after Max Hardcore was found guilty of federal obscenity charges in a Florida courtroom, director Ira Isaacs is facing a similar trial in Los Angeles.

Isaacs, 57, a self-proclaimed "shock artist" and the alleged owner of Stolen Car Films and LA Media, directs extreme fetish films - some of which include bestiality and defecation. The trial is the first in Southern California by a U.S. Department of Justice task force formed in 2005 after Christian conservative groups appealed to the Bush administration to crack down on smut.

As the trial began this morning, prosecutors dropped charges against one of four videos at issue in the case, a movie called BAE20 that was originally cited in two of the counts against Isaacs.

Isaacs was initially charged in July 2007 in the Middle District of California with importation or transportation of obscene material, importation or transportation of obscene material for sale or distribution, and two counts of violating the federal recordkeeping and labeling law, 18 U.S.C. §2257. Prosecutors later dropped the 2257 charges without explanation.

The remaining obscenity-related counts are in connection with videos entitled Gang Bang Horse - ‘Pony Sex Game,' Mako's First Time Scat and Hollywood Scat Amateurs No. 7. The indictment alleges Isaacs shipped Hollywood Scat Amateurs No. 7 outside the state of California.

As in the Max Hardcore case, jurors will watch several hours of the films in question in an effort to determine whether they are obscene, or whether they include literary, scientific or artistic value.

"All they're going to do is turn on a DVD machine and hope the jury is going to be so shocked and disgusted and offended that they're going to throw me in prison," Isaacs told the Los Angeles Times. "It's going to be a circus. I think I'd freak out if I had to watch six hours of the stuff."

But if jurors find that any of the four videos at issue in the case have any "literary, scientific or artistic value," the work is not legally obscene, according to a 1973 Supreme Court ruling.

Judge Alex Kozinski, who is viewed as a staunch defender of free speech, is scheduled to preside over the trial. Jury selection began this morning.

Isaacs is expected to testify as his own expert witness during the trial.

"Mr. Isaacs may testify as an expert," Judge Kozinski said during his ruling on the matter in May. "Whether the jury is going to be as taken with him as he is with himself is another question ... What is art is a highly subjective thing."