LOS ANGELES—The sculpture outside the Edward R. Roybal Federal Building is called "The New World," but to the average passerby it just looks like four people each shot through with dozens of bulletholes, trying to get each other into some sort of wrestling hold. And considering what's going on upstairs in Courtroom 640, the sculpture seems somehow appropriate.
Today was the third day of the third obscenity trial of producer/retailer Ira Isaacs, and it began shortly after 8 a.m. with the government screening the first charged movie, Mako's First Time Scat, followed soon after by the Isaacs-directed Hollywood Scat Amateurs 7. Although we didn't watch the movies this time around, descriptions of them can be found here and here.
However, as we entered Judge George H. King's courtroom, Hollywood Scat Amateurs 7 was still playing, and unlike Isaacs' previous trial on these same charges, the jury seemed to be paying attention to the video monitor, perhaps because they had already been informed that the substance performer April was eating and rubbing on her body was not the excrement promised in the movie's advertising, but rather a mixture of chocolate and peanut butter.
Following the showing of the movies, the prosecution called to the witness stand Marlayna Trickett, a 31-year-old woman who, from the summer of 2006 until the FBI and LAPD raided Isaacs' offices in January, 2007, had been Isaacs' office assistant for his company, LA Media. Trickett testified that her duties included answering phones, receiving orders for movies both by mail and email, duplicating those movies on the company's in-house duplication system and mailing or shipping the movies to the customers. Trickett also had some role in managing the company's 20 websites, including posting screen grabs from the videos on various web pages.
What the prosecution seemed most interested in, however, was whether Isaacs' businesses were as secretive as the Justice Department has claimed throughout the proceedings, so DOJ prosecutor Michael Grant questioned Trickett closely regarding what addresses for the company were used in advertising and delivering the movies, bringing out that all of her company correspondence bore the name "Sarah James," and that the return address on at least two of the packages delivered to FBI undercover addresses was 1768 Weeks Avenue, Bronx, New York, an address that Trickett testified was not one of Isaacs' places of business—which the FBI already knew were in Los Angeles since they started surveilling Isaacs in January of 2003.
But that knowledge didn't stop the questioning about Isaacs' actual office addresses—one on Hollywood Boulevard and then later on Wilshire Boulevard—as well as the private post box he used to receive mail orders, and the fact that there was no business name on the door of his Wilshire office when the FBI raided it on January 17, 2007.
Of course, all of that information has no bearing on whether the four movies Isaacs made and/or distributed are obscene under the U.S. Supreme Court's Miller obscenity test, but it would seem that the sheer bulk of it is intended to sway the jury into believing that Isaacs had something to hide or was ashamed of something, and that might easily affect their appraisal of whether the movies or any of them meet the (non-)definition of "obscenity."
Nonetheless, on cross examination by Isaacs' attorney, Roger Jon Diamond, Trickett described the LA Media office as "professional" and "friendly," and that in questioning by FBI Special Agent James Myrick during the 2007 raid, both she and Isaacs had been cooperative and even helpful, even though the FBI had not disclosed what "crime" they were investigating Isaacs for.
Similarly, the government's next witness, computer forensics analyst (and FBI Special Agent) Matthew Goward, appeared to have been called simply to verify that the hard drives on Isaacs' office computers did in fact contain copies of the order form from "James Kirk," the alias used by Myrick to order two movies from one of Isaacs' websites, CinemaScat.com—which name Trickett had remembered because she's a Star Trek fan. Goward also found direct mail and email programs on one of the computers which could be used to send emails from any of 22 addresses, as well as the code for 30 websites such as ScatCinemax.com and iamatoilet.com in a folder on one drive. Also present on the computers were over 1,000 emails to scat newsgroups containing both text and photos, as well as video excerpts from both Hollywood Scat Amateurs movies, and promotional text for those and other movies. Finally, Goward testified that there was also a contract between Stolen Car Films and Vienna, Austria-based MFX Media for distribution of Isaacs' movies in Europe.
The government's final witness for the day was Los Angeles Police Det. Kyle Lewison, who'd spent 15 years working in the department's Vice Division, and who had taken part in both the 2007 raid on Isaacs' offices and an FBI sting operation in early 2011, where under the pseudonym of "Kevin Yamashita," Lewison had placed web orders for several of Isaacs' movies. Lewison noted that Isaacs had sent the packages from a private mail box company on Hollywood Boulevard, which he confirmed by tracing a code on the packages' postage labels. Lewison also identified screen captures of some of Isaacs' web pages featuring photos from the charged movies as well as ordering information.
When Grant had finished his examination of Lewison, Judge King recessed the trial for the day, since the next step would be to play the charged movies Hollywood Scat Amateurs 10 and Japanese Doggie 3 Way for the jury, and with Judge King's self-imposed 2 p.m. limit on testimony, those will be played beginning at 8 a.m. tomorrow.
After the jury left the courtroom, Judge King asked the attorneys for both sides for an update on the projected trial schedule, and if things go according to plan, all of the testimony will be completed by Thursday afternoon, with closing argments to be delivered Friday morning, after which the jury will begin its deliberations.
Check back with AVN.com tomorrow for more news of what may be the Obama administration's last obscenity trial—at least until after the 2012 election!