A federal judge in Washington on Friday dismissed all charges against adult film producer John Stagliano, granting a defense motion for judgment of acquittal in the closely watched First Amendment case.
Judge Richard Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia had earlier this week dismissed two counts of the seven-count indictment against Stagliano, charged with producing two movies and a trailer that federal prosecutors said were criminally obscene.
Stagliano and two of his companies, including Evil Angel Productions Inc., were indicted in 2008 in the first obscenity case in federal district court in Washington in more than 20 years. Prosecutors had earlier planned to bring the case in Alabama. Court records do not say why the government decided to bring the case in the District of Columbia.
Leon today ruled that the prosecution, led by Criminal Division trial attorneys Pamela Satterfield and Bonnie Hannan, failed to give enough evidence to jurors to prove that any one defendant, including Stagliano, violated the law. On the original indictment, Stagliano faced up to 32 years in prison.
“It’s a great day for the First Amendment. It’s a great day for an independent judiciary. It’s an amazing day for John, who looked the government in the eye and said that he wasn’t going to take it,” said Allan Gelbard, a solo practitioner in Encino, Calif, who represented Evil Angel Productions.
H. Louis Sirkin of Cincinnati’s Sirkin, Kinsley & Nazzarine was lead counsel for John Stagliano Inc. and Paul Cambria Jr. of Buffalo’s Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria was lead counsel for Stagliano. Davis Wright Tremaine partner Robert Corn-Revere was local counsel.
Satterfield was not immediately reached for comment Friday evening.