Ira Isaacs Stands Before A New Judge

LOS ANGELES - With attorney Roger Jon Diamond unable to attend a scheduled status conference regarding the government's obscenity case against shock artist Ira Isaacs on June 30, U.S. District Judge George King moved the conference up a week, but there were few surprises at today's hearing - not even Judge King's obvious desire to move the proceedings along swiftly.

Sitting in Courtroom 660 of the Edward R. Roybal Center this afternoon, Judge King took under advisement Diamond's Motion to object to setting a trial date, and gave Diamond until July 28 to file his motion to preclude Isaacs' retrial on grounds of double jeopardy. The late date for the motion was determined by Diamond's need to review the transcript of the previous trial under Judge Alex Kozinski, which would not be ready, according to prosecutor Ken Whitted, until July 14 - although Judge King questioned why Diamond would need the transcript at all, since the facts of the case were not in dispute.

However, Judge King relented and agreed to give Diamond "the benefit of full research" for the motion, and agreed to allow Whitted nearly three weeks after that - until August 18 - to file his response, and Diamond an additional week after that - until August 25 - to file any reply to Whitted, finally setting a court hearing on the motion for September 8 at 3:30 p.m.

The hearing lasted less than 15 minutes, but Diamond and Isaacs "held court" in the hall outside the courtroom for reporters. There, Diamond reiterated his belief that there had been no need for Judge Kozinski, who had been discovered to have had a Website containing sexually explicit material, to recuse himself from the proceedings, much less to declare a mistral in the matter. In Diamond's view, a new judge could simply have reviewed the roughly half hour's worth of transcript so far produced - just two witnesses, with no dispute about their renditions of the facts - and watch the movies that had already been played for the original jury - Gang Bang Horse 'Pony Sex Game' and Mako's First Time Scat 2 - to get him- or herself up to speed, and then the trial could have proceeded.

Charging that the government "took advantage of Judge Kozinski on the recusal motion," Diamond averred that, "There's no need to scuttle the whole trial."

"It's government intimidation that created this problem," Diamond stated.

He added that he hoped that Judge Kozinski would not suffer any adverse consequences from the discovery of his Website, which made national news and sparked reactions from several religious pro-censorship groups.

For Isaacs' part, he appeared to have used the publicity generated by the trial to attract the attention of some art galleries and even a museum for his plan to create a multimedia installation incorporating the movies charged in the current trial along with some more mainstream artistic efforts, with the audience's reaction to both sets of "artistic" input becoming a part of the exhibit itself.

Isaacs said he hoped to "start a dialog: 'What is art?'", which he claimed was the "whole point of shock art."

Whether Isaacs' planned installation will be up and running before his next scheduled court date is unclear.