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Jurors in Max Hardcore porn trial seek clarification

Jurors will continue deliberating today in the obscenity trial of Paul F. Little in Tampa. 

Jurors will continue deliberating today in the obscenity trial of Paul F. Little in Tampa. 

TAMPA — Jurors deliberating in the obscenity trial of a Hollywood pornographer sought Wednesday to clarify the meanings of words and phrases in their instructions, including "morbid and degraded," "unhealthy interest in sex," and "candid interest in sex."

U.S. District Judge Susan C. Bucklew declined their request to use a dictionary and told them to rely on their common sense. Soon after the judge's response, jurors decided to return today to continue deliberations after spending more than four hours Wednesday discussing the case.

They will decide whether the films produced by Paul F. Little and MaxWorld Entertainment Inc. — which include scenes of urinating and vomiting — violate local community standards.

In their questions to the judge, jurors also wanted further explanation on an instruction to consider whether Little's films were intended for the average person in the community or members of a deviant sexual group. The answer to that will affect how the jury considers whether the films violate community standards, one of the tests necessary to prove obscenity.

Defense attorneys had argued that the films were for a niche audience, not the average person, and therefore not obscene. They called on jurors to consider the nearly six dozen adult-oriented businesses across the Tampa Bay region and infer what that says about the community.

The New York Yankees' spring training facility sits across the street from an adult bookstore in Tampa, MaxWorld attorney Louis Sirkin told jurors.

Edward McAndrew, a Justice Department attorney prosecuting the case, said the availability of something in a community doesn't mean it's accepted.

Prosecutors charged Little and MaxWorld with five counts of using a computer server to sell or distribute obscene matter and five counts of using the U.S. mail to deliver obscene matter.

Little performs in his films as Max Hardcore, whose Web site was housed near the federal courthouse in downtown Tampa for three years. McAndrew said that connection was why the case was tried in Tampa.

The defense says prosecutors charged the wrong people. It says Little never knew his site was hosted in Tampa and therefore could not have considered whether his work was violating community standards in Tampa.

His attorneys said Little sold his films to an adult film distributor, Jaded Video, in California. It then sold the videos to an undercover federal agent and shipped them to a Tampa post office box.

The government granted immunity to the president of Jaded Video to testify.

Kevin Graham can be reached at kgraham@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3433.

Jurors in Max Hardcore porn trial seek clarification 06/04/08 [Last modified: Thursday, June 5, 2008 6:46pm]
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