LOS ANGELES – Ira Isaacs, purveyor of such videos as Gang Bang Horse 'Pony Sex Game', Mako's First Time Scat and BAE 20, plus one he directed himself, Hollywood Scat Amateurs No. 7, has had his trial postponed yet again ... and this time for a reason unheard of in California First Amendment circles.
"It's now set for June 11," Isaacs told AVN. "And the reason is, Judge King is no longer the judge. He's being replaced by the Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit, Alex Kozinski. The head judge of the Ninth Circuit took over the case."
According to at least one veteran First Amendment attorney, to have the Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals acting as a trial judge may be unprecedented.
"I've never heard of it," commented Clyde DeWitt. "That doesn't make any sense at all. In almost 35 years of practicing law, I've never heard of it. I know district court judges sit by designation in federal circuit courts all the time; that's a very, very standard thing. But I've never heard of a circuit judge sitting by designation in district court."
The mechanics of Kozinski taking over for King may never be known, but the fact of the change suggests the importance of Isaacs' case. The Justice Department has assigned the man who appears to be its chief obscenity prosecutor, Kenneth Whitted, to the case, and part of the reason for moving the trial date appears to have to do with the fact that Whitted is scheduled to prosecute both Isaacs in L.A. and the Harb brothers, owners of Movies By Mail, in Salt Lake City, and the government doesn't want to schedule Whitted into a conflict between the two cases.
Isaacs himself thinks it's significant that he's being brought to trial in Los Angeles.
"Remember, they were afraid to try JM in L.A.; afraid they couldn't get a conviction here," Isaacs reflected. "My stuff is probably as extreme as you can get. But they obviously felt my stuff is so extreme, no matter where they tried it, they could win. I spoke to an attorney here about possibly taking my case, and their attitude was, 'There's not a jury in the country who's not going to think this is obscene.' That's what they told me. That was his attitude."
"But I believe in freedom of speech, and if I can be a part of that in the United States history, I'm gonna do it," Isaacs continued. "I'm so glad I didn't take a plea from these guys. People think the First Amendment protects popular speech. Popular speech doesn't need protecting; it's this kind of crazy stuff."
Judge Kozinski, a Reagan appointee, has a reputation as both a conservative and a libertarian, depending on which analyst one reads. While Kozinski dissented from a Circuit ruling granting a new trial to a convicted murderer on the basis of "procedural misunderstandings" – Kozinski claimed the errors in the case "can be corrected in a future case where the problem again manifests itself" – he dismissed a lawsuit filed by Mattel against Danish music group Aqua for "turning Barbie into a sex object" in their song "Barbie Girl." According to Wikipedia, "Kozinski opened the case with 'If this were a sci-fi melodrama, it might be called Speech-Zilla meets Trademark Kong' and famously concluded his opinion with the words: 'The parties are advised to chill'."
"Oh, yeah; Judge Kozinski's opinions are fun to read," agreed DeWitt.
In the area of personal privacy, however, Kozinski spoke out vigorously in 2001 against a Bush administration plan to have judicial administrators monitor which websites were accessed by federal judges and thousands of other employees of the federal court system, and in fact, all of the Ninth Circuit judges disabled the monitor system for both their own circuit and that of two other circuits.
In his spare time, Kozinski writes book reviews, builds computers, rides dune buggies, snowboards and, according to the New York Times, "on occasion he likes to bungee jump."
Oh, yeah; and he was a contestant on "The Dating Game" – twice!
"If I wanted to pick any judge in the United States to be my judge, this guy's better," Isaacs assessed, "because this guy's a libertarian."
But that wasn't Isaacs' only news:
"Guess who's going to be their rebuttal witness? Mary Ann Layden! I'm so happy about this!"
Layden, it will be recalled, co-directs the Sexual Trauma and Psychopathology Program at the Center for Cognitive Therapy at the University of Pennsylvania, and most recently opined for Morality In Media's Ed Hynes that porn increases sexual violence on campus.
She also told the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Science, Technology and Space in 2004 that, "Pornography, by its very nature, is an equal opportunity toxin. It damages the viewer, the performer, and the spouses and the children of the viewers and the performers. It is toxic mis-education about sex and relationships. It is more toxic the more you consume, the 'harder' the variety you consume and the younger and more vulnerable the consumer."
"Basically, she makes up things like 'the porno holocaust'," Isaacs retorted. "That'll be interesting, if she says that, because the judge's parents were in the Holocaust. This woman thinks anything is bad unless God blesses it."
"She ignores facts," Isaacs continued, charging of Layden and "experts" like her, "They're not there to be objective; they're there to get their political point across. The end justifies the means if you're doing God's work, so it doesn't matter if you lie to people, because ultimately, they assume they're doing the right thing."
Isaacs was unclear as to whether Layden would be one of the experts subject to a "Daubert hearing" as to her qualifications to render an expert opinion in the case. That hearing has now been moved to May 6.
Isaacs intends to serve as his own expert on the artistic and political implications of his own work and of the work he sells, and believes that Kozinski's entry into the case may actually help him establish the value of his work.
"Obviously, the fact that I'm in court, this has a lot of political value," Isaacs assessed. "People are writing about it; the head judge of the Ninth Circuit is taking over – obviously just the fact that he's there shows it has serious political value. Obviously he's taking it, not because he put a whole bunch of cases in a big bowl and picked one out; it's because it really is a freedom of speech and not an obscenity case."
In fact, if "shock artist" Isaacs – "I want to offend people; that was the point!" – has his way, the name of his "crime" won't even be mentioned.
"When the government talks of 'obscenity,' they're using an explosive word that makes most people think of child molesting, [implying] that you put kids in these things, and that you're a scumbag criminal," Isaacs said. "That's what they're trying to do, and a lot of people in the adult industry don't get that yet; they don't understand – maybe they've never read Orwell. But it's such an explosive word, I'm going to try to get it banned from being used with the jury. Talk about it as 'the First Amendment,' and do I violate the First Amendment? 'Obscenity' is too explosive a word."
Isaacs even said he wished he could give his own opening statement and summation to the jury, which he said would be "fun."
Isaacs is encouraging those interested in his case to contact him at [email protected]