LOS ANGELES—A "status conference" was held this afternoon in the case of United States v. Ira Isaacs, the off-again, on-again First Amendment case where Isaacs is accused of mailing three adult movies to an undercover postal inspector, and was charged in early 2008 with transporting obscene material.
As AVN readers will recall, Isaacs' trial began in the late spring of 2008 and was presided over by Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski... until a Los Angeles Times reporter exposed the fact that Kozinski was the owner of a mildly sexy website, and the judge not only recused himself from the Isaacs trial, but also declared that there was a "manifest necessity" for a mistrial in the case—a "manifest necessity" that Isaacs' attorney, Roger Jon Diamond, disputed through the federal court system, until his petition for certiorari was recently rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court.
After Kozinski's recusal, the case was reassigned to Judge George H. King, who suspended proceedings while Isaacs' appeal was in process, but he scheduled a hearing for today to ask Diamond and the new prosecutor in the case, Bonnie Hannan—most recently the "second chair" for the prosecution in the John Stagliano trial—where things stood. (Hannan has now taken over the case from Obscenity Prosecution Task Force prosecutor Kenneth Whitted, who represented the government against Isaacs before Judge Kozinski.)
Judge King began by summing up the previous proceedings in the case, then asked both attorneys where the case was headed. Diamond admitted that, owing to Isaacs' poor financial condition, he and the government had engaged in settlement discussions, and Hannan later affirmed that she would take Diamond's offer back to Washington to discuss with her superiors; however, she did request that Judge King set a trial date at the hearing, which she indicated she hoped would be sometime this fall.
Judge King responded by requesting that Hannan and Diamond sit down to discuss what pretrial issues were still pending, and what new issues might need to be resolved prior to trial—Diamond had indicated, for instance, that his client wanted to call "South Park" creator Trey Parker as an expert witness, which might necessitate a "Daubert hearing" to sift through Parker's qualifications—and Judge King asked that the attorneys update him on the status of the case no later than 10 days from today's date.
Hannan had indicated that she wanted to case to proceed quickly to avoid any problems with the "speedy trial" statutes, one of which would apparently run out on the government on September 7, but Diamond indicated on behalf of his client that Isaacs was willing to waive any speedy trial concerns, and in so doing, hoped to push the trial back perhaps to next February.
Also unclear from today's hearing was the status of rulings made by Judge Kozinski before his recusal, and even rulings from Judge King himself before Kozinski took over the case from him. These would include who Kozinski had approved as expert witnesses—Isaacs himself and a Southern California psychologist—and whether the defense would be allowed to introduce material comparable to the movies on trial in the case, so the jury could decide whether the charged movies exceeded the community standards for the Central District of California.