TAMPA - Producer Max Hardcore was found guilty today of 10 federal counts of distributing obscene materials over the Internet and through the mail. His company Max World Entertainment was also found guilty on 10 related charges.
"It's a sad day for all Americans when they smash any kind of free speech and that's what happened in Tampa today," Max Hardcore told AVN. "They trampled on free speech, and I intend to appeal."
Max faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count of conviction, as well as forfeiture of his Internet domain names. Max World faces a separate $250,000 fine. The government had separately sought the forfeiture of Hardcore's home in Altadena, Calif., but the jury ruled against that penalty.
"I'm full of good spirits and they didn't get my house," Hardcore said. "We're talking to a couple of jurors and they felt very strongly for me, but the way the laws are formulated, they were boxed in to a corner. I should have got off for this nonsense; obscenity is an archaic term, it's not defined well. I received no warning and they attempted to put me behind bars; they've got a conviction, but we intend to fight on."
Earlier today, jurors asked U.S. District Judge Susan Bucklew for guidance as the jury was having trouble reaching a unanimous decision.
The jury foreman sent a note to Bucklew just after 3 p.m., asking: "If we make a decision on 10 of the 20 counts, but are unable to reach a decision on the other 10, will the 10 counts that we decide on stand?''
Bucklew said the jury's decision would count.
The jurors responded in another note: "There are people on both sides of the issues, and we do not believe we'll be able to reach a unanimous decision. How long must we deliberate?''
The judge urged jurors to try again. "I'm not going to tell you how much time to deliberate, but I am going to ask you to deliberate again,'' she said.
The jury then asked Judge Bucklew for permission to take a break, because "emotions were running very high." Bucklew granted the break, asking attorneys to stay in the courthouse to give the jurors time to talk again.
The jury returned its verdict at approximately 7 p.m after deliberating for a total of 14 hours in the past two days. After the jury returned its verdict, the judge dismissed the defense's motion to dismiss the case which had been held in reserve.
"It was a travesty but we had no choice because of the way the law is written," one juror told AVN.
Several jurors approached Max Hardcore and his attorneys to express their sympathy at having been forced to convict him on the counts due to the "poorly written" law regarding the transportation of obscene material via the internet and the mailing of the DVDs to the middle district of Florida.
Another juror reportedly said that if two words in the law had been different, he would have held out for acquittal.
Attorney Jeffrey Douglas echoed Max's sentiments.
"As I said in closing argument, I believe that this prosecution was shameful," Douglas told AVN. "And as Max Hardcore said, this is a sad day for America. It's a deeply sad day for him personally, but also for all of us."
Max Hardcore will be sentenced September 5. He is free on bail until that date.