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Mistrial Declared In LA Obscenity Case

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — The case of an adult film producer charged with violating federal obscenity laws by selling movies depicting bestiality and extreme fetishes ended in a mistrial Tuesday.

Jurors were unable to reach a unanimous verdict against Ira Isaacs, voting 10-2 in favor of a conviction on 10 counts, including production and transportation of obscene material for sale, said defense attorney Roger Diamond.

Laura Sweeney, a spokeswoman with the U.S. Department of Justice whose prosecutors handled the case in Los Angeles, declined comment.

If convicted of all counts, Isaacs could have faced up to 20 years in prison. A retrial was set for April 24.

Isaacs was indicted several years ago 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.

Isaacs’ 2008 trial was halted after the Los Angeles Times reported Alex Kozinski, chief judge of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals who oversaw the proceedings, had sexually explicit material on a personal website.

Kozinski recused himself and was admonished by a special committee of his colleagues for actions they deemed as poor judgment.

Kozinski was presiding in the criminal case under a program in which appellate judges are assigned federal trials.

At issue was whether the videos sold by Isaacs were obscene. The test still hinges 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.

Isaacs has maintained his work is an extreme but constitutionally protected form of art.

“This is a monumental waste of money,” Diamond said of the court proceedings.

Prosecutors will keep seeking a conviction because “they are catering to the right wing that doesn’t like gay rights or sexual freedoms,” Diamond claimed. “We think this is a victory.”

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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