STAUNTON, Va. - Judge Thomas Wood ruled on several motions in the city's obscenity case against After Hours Video and owner Rick Krial at a pre-trial hearing this morning in Staunton Circuit Court.
"It went pretty well," defense attorney Paul Cambria told AVN. "As usual, the prosecution was trying to force the defense to reveal what its defense is, and then convince the court to shut that defense down. Luckily, we have an experienced judge, and he was not about to buy any of that...so we're going to be able to defend our case in the usual way and not have to disclose our defense ahead of time."
Krial and his company are charged with 16 felonies and eight misdemeanor charges of obscenity for selling 12 adult videos to undercover police officers shortly after the store opened in October. An employee at After Hours Video was also charged with six felony counts of obscenity in connection with the sale.
Staunton prosecutor Ray Robertson has brought in U.S. Department of Justice attorney Matthew Buzzelli as his co-counsel in an attempt to make the local issue seem like a federal case.
However, Judge Wood sided with Cambria today in ruling that Buzzelli should not be identified as a DOJ official during the trial.
"I asked the judge to not inform the jury that [Buzzelli] was from the DOJ because this isn't a federal case and the jurors shouldn't think this case has any special importance just because he's present," Cambria said. "The judge agreed that everybody will just be identified by their names so that [the jury] won't attach any importance they shouldn't attach to this case."
Judge Wood agreed to allow both sides to verbally question prospective jurors in a manner beyond what is considered the norm, given the unique nature of the case. Although the judge said he did not have the authority to allow the defense to submit a written questionnaire to the jury pool, Cambria told AVN he was pleased with the judge's overall decision.
"The judge denied their motions to prevent us from questioning the jurors adequately and from arguing that this is matter distributed only to adults," Cambria said. "Robertson didn't want the jurors to know that the material had only been distributed to adults, and the judge agreed it's important that they be told that."
While Judge Wood denied motions to dismiss the case on constitutional grounds, Cambria told AVN that this decision was expected.
"Yes, he denied all motions to dismiss - but that was expected. We need to reach higher courts to get some definitive rulings on those [constitutional] issues," Cambria said. "One thing we attacked was the obscenity statute itself - we attacked the right of privacy issue, because as long as it's among adults it should be protected activity and the obscenity statutes are obsolete. I told the judge that I didn't expect we'd go to a higher court because it's our intention to win."
The trial is set to begin August 12.