Max Hardcore Responds to Judge's Decision

PORN VALLEY - When we spoke with Paul Little, aka Max Hardcore, this afternoon, he hadn't yet heard about the order issued by Judge Susan C. Bucklew denying his motion to remain free pending the appeal of the charges - five counts of using an interactive computer service for the purpose of selling and distributing obscene matter, and five counts of delivering obscene matter by mail - of which he was convicted last June and sentenced on Oct. 6.

According to that order, "Under 18 U.S.C. § 3143(b)(1), a person convicted of a federal crime is eligible for release pending appeal if he can show by clear and convincing evidence that he is unlikely to flee or pose a danger to others, and that the appeal ... raises a substantial question of law likely to result in (i) reversal, (ii) an order for a new trial, (iii) a sentence that does not include a term of imprisonment, or (iv) a reduced sentence to a term of imprisonment less than the total of the time already served plus the expected duration of the appeal process."

The order then dealt with seven of the issues raised in the Motion for Appeal and/or New Trial filed by attorneys H. Louis Sirkin and Jennifer Kinsley, including their challenge, under Lawrence v. Texas, of the constitutionality of the obscenity statutes; the fact that the Court forced the defendants to "publish" (show to the jury) the complete DVDs charged in the indictment when it should have required to government to do so as part of its case in chief; the judge's refusal to recuse herself due to several rulings during trial that suggested bias against the defense; the fact that Little himself had nothing to do with mailing the charged disks to the Central District of Florida; the fact that one alternate juror sent a note to the court asking that the full charged videos not be shown, and the failure of the Court to tell defense counsel that one juror had been fired from her job curing deliberations; and that the jury had no basis on which to judge whether the charged material - both DVDs and trailers on Little's website - offended community standards in the Tampa area. Judge Bucklew dismissed the possibility that either the jury or she herself would be reversed on any of those issues.

"Accordingly, it is ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that Defendant Paul Little's Amended Motion for stay of sentence pending appeal is DENIED," she wrote. "The issues raised by the Defendant do not raise a substantial question of law likely to result in reversal, an order for new trial, a sentence that does not include imprisonment, or a reduced sentence."

"I'm deeply disappointed in the decision from Judge Bucklew," Little told AVN. "I feel, as do the my attorneys, that we have some valid issues to be addressed, and it's extremely disappointing that the judge chose to deny our seven motions, any one of which could result in a significant change of status regarding either my sentencing or the conviction of the charges as well."

Little noted that his is the first conviction of a Los Angeles area adult video producer since the Investment Enterprises case of the early '90s, and that despite the federal sentencing guidelines, 46 months in federal prison - that is, three years, ten months - is far longer than any of the defendants convicted in that case received.

"If the government's intention is justice and fairness," Little argued, his voice trembling with emotion, "and they want the industry to change - and it's not just me, of course, now; it's John Stagliano and whoever is to follow - it's a message to the industry, and I'm paying a heavy price, much heavier than I might get if I had done a lot of other serious offenses with actual victims and so forth. It should serve as a strong message not only to adult filmmakers but any artist in America whose work includes erotic elements, because the message that it's sending is, no one's safe, and not only is no one safe, no one is safe in perpetuity as long as they choose to go after and are able to convict a producer or an artist for creating a work of art that was legal at the time of creation and up to the point where a sub-distributor, completely out of the control of the originator of the work, sends it to some district in America, that the government can then go back to the original producer and try, convict and imprison that person, that producer, that artist, for years. I would think, in fairness, that they would believe - and maybe this is a little naïve on my part - that this is America, and we're entitled to make mistakes, and that some consideration should be given to air out, in full measure, the issues that we're raising in our appeal before sending me off to be locked up."

Little stressed the fact that the case against him was mounted "not as a result of an individual citizen or group of citizens, religious organization, community group or whatever in the Tampa area" but "the result of an independently initiated investigation apparently out of the Washington field office of the Justice Department and the FBI; they brought the case to a venue that is geographically about as far away from my home as one can get without falling into the ocean. So all artists should be concerned about this."

Considering the two cases that were filed before his - Extreme Associates and JM Productions - and the one filed afterwards - Evil Angel - Little sees a trend in the government's attack on the adult entertainment industry that he believes should worry anyone producing erotic videos or websites - and that it would be in their best interests to support his appeal.

"I'd like to appeal to the adult community and also to filmmakers of all stripes and artists as well, to get behind me in this case, because if we are able to prevail in our arguments concerning, first of all, privacy and due process, and secondly, the culpability and foreknowledge of whether or not a work of art will be found to be obscene in some far off jurisdiction, that's good for everybody," Little said. "The third very important issue is, because the government has, in this case, convicted me upon the community standards of the Central District of Florida, the Tampa area, concerning work that I exhibited in the form of movie trailers upon my site whose audience is the world, the World Wide Web, this should be of great concern to everybody, and if we can overturn these and establish a precedent, what winning this case will do for everybody in a very substantial, dramatic and concrete way is to insulate and protect them from being charged with the same crimes in the future."

"Specifically, I'm asking people to help in two regards," he continued. "I'm working with the Free Speech Coalition and also John Stagliano, and what I'd like to get from the Free Speech Coalition is a statement of solidarity and a statement of support for my case, and from Stagliano, an official statement, a position paper as it were, which I have in mind to circulate to the industry in the form of a petition to get everybody on board to stand up and to speak as one, with one voice, to say that we firmly believe in free speech and the right of Americans to watch this material. I think that's been evidenced by nearly 18 years of uninterrupted growth in our industry and support from all Americans to grow into an industry and a movement that has a huge convention every year in Las Vegas and an awards ceremony for the best works of art of that year that's broadcast to a nationwide audience on Showtime. The people have spoken and they've demonstrated with their purchasing power and their attendance at the shows and the fact that there's a nationwide audience for this on cable television - have you ever seen any sort of organized protest at these events against me specifically or the industry in general? No, you haven't. So who's the government protecting here? And while I'd like to emphasize that I respect and will abide by the decisions of the court, I reserve the right to seek that the case be fully aired and to make use of all our appeals process up to and including the Supreme Court. I just don't want them to use these words against me. I want to be as even-keeled as I can, and not in any way disrespect Judge Bucklew or the judicial system in general, but I think I've been wrongly convicted and I believe a higher court will set that right."

"The second thing I'd like to encourage people to do as much as they can is to contribute to this case, as the ultimate decisions and rulings made in this case will affect all filmmakers whether they're on the Internet or on DVD or playing them in a backyard cinema, and if we win, we all win. So I'm asking people to help support this case by donating to the defense by sending contributions to H. Louis Sirkin c/o Sirkin, Pinales & Schwartz, 105 W. Fourth St., Ste. 920, Cincinnati, OH 45202 - just note that it's a contribution to my defense."

"I can't stress the urgency upon which people need to act, because once the door is slammed, they're going to have to wait until the next person comes along, and by that time, there might be untold damage to our First Amendment freedoms. A solid win by the government could unleash a slew of indictments against website operators and moviemakers across the adult spectrum, and so it's time that people get off their duffs and get in gear and do what they can to help support this case, and ultimately the victory and the freedoms that we enjoy as Americans."

Those who wish more information about Little's case can go to his website, , or email him personally at [email protected]

Little's attorneys plan to appeal Judge Bucklew's order denying Little's continued release pending resolution of his appeal to the Eleventh Circuit, and although Little has not yet received the expected letter from the Bureau of Prisons notifying him when and where to report for imprisonment, he knows it's only days away.

"I want to add that although I don't look forward to it at all, I stand ready to report and to serve my sentence and I'm not afraid; I'll do my duty, if that's what it takes to get people's attention and how it affects everybody," he declared. "If I have to go to jail to get people to open their eyes, then I'll do it and I'll go proudly. I'm not afraid."