Published November 20, 2014
An adult film producer was convicted Friday of violating federal obscenity laws by selling movies depicting bestiality and extreme fetishes.
The verdict ends a long-running legal saga that included two mistrials, including one in which sexually explicit material was found on a personal website of the chief justice of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, who was overseeing the case.
Defendant Ira Isaacs was found guilty of five counts, including mailing obscene matter, his attorney Roger Diamond said. The jury took about two hours to reach its decision.
Isaacs could face a sentence ranging from probation to 20 years in prison. He remained free on bond pending his Aug. 6 sentencing hearing.
Federal prosecutors did not have an immediate comment about the verdict.
Diamond said he and his client were disappointed but relieved the case is finally at an end.
"The government sometimes can wear you down," Diamond said.
Isaacs was indicted as part of an effort by a Bush administration task force to crack down on smut in the United States. The unit has since been disbanded.
In March, jurors were unable to reach a unanimous verdict, voting 10-2 in favor of a conviction on 10 counts.
Isaacs' 2008 trial was halted after the Los Angeles Times reported Alex Kozinski, chief judge of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, had sexually explicit material on a personal website. Among the questionable images was video of a man cavorting with a farm animal and a picture of nude women painted to look like cows.
Kozinski recused himself and was admonished by a special committee of his colleagues for actions they deemed as poor judgment. He was presiding over the criminal case under a program in which appellate judges are assigned federal trials.
At issue at the trial was whether the videos sold by Isaacs were obscene. The test hinged on a 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that held that a work is not legally obscene if it has "literary, artistic, political or scientific value."
Jurors also were asked to decide whether the videos, some of which depicted fetishes involving feces, violated standards of what is acceptable to the community at large. In all three trials, jurors had to watch a series of explicit videos in entirety.
Isaacs has maintained his work is an extreme but constitutionally protected form of art, but he hasn't been supported by others in the porn industry.
"He was determined to fight the case to vindicate the First Amendment, but the regular adult industry doesn't consider him to be part of it because they claim his material goes well beyond what is mainstream porno in California," Diamond said.