Official Press Release
Counsel for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund have submitted four motions to dismiss the charges against retailer Gordon Lee, owner of Legends in Rome, GA. Last February, the Fund initiated Lee's defense against charges resulting from accidentally distributing Alternative Comics #2, a Free Comic Book Day book from 2004, to a minor. The anthology includes the story "The Salon" by Nick Bertozzi, which contains a segment depicting Picasso in the nude. The Fund has already spent in excess of $20,000 defending this case.
Lee was charged with seven criminal counts for allegedly violating two laws. He was charged with two counts of violating the felony of Distribution of Material Depicting Nudity or Sexual Conduct (OCGA §16-12-81), a law that bans the unsolicited delivery of any content depicting nudity to any person in the state of Georgia and carries a penalty of one to three years in prison and/or fines of up to $10,000. One of the two counts is for handing the comic to the alleged victim, and the other is for handing the comic to an alleged John or Jane Doe. Lee is also charged with five counts of violating the misdemeanor of Distribution of Material Harmful to Minors (OCGA §16-12-103). He is charged with three discrete counts of violating the law for handing a single copy of the comic book to the alleged victim. He is also charged with two counts for allegedly giving the comics to John or Jane Doe.
The motions, written by Alan Begner and Paul Cadle, CBLDF's counsel on this case, were filed on May 2. The first motion seeks to dismiss the John Doe counts. The second seeks to dismiss both felony counts under the rule of lenity, which requires that when a defendant is charged with a felony and a misdemeanor for the same conduct, the lesser penalty must apply. The third motion seeks to dismiss the felony counts on the grounds that Georgia's Distribution of Material Depicting Nudity or Sexual Conduct is unconstitutional on its face and as applied. The fourth motion seeks to dismiss the misdemeanor counts of Distribution of Material Harmful to Minors on the grounds that the law is unconstitutional on its face and as applied to this case.
CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein says, "Mr. Begner and Mr. Cadle have presented some very persuasive legal arguments in these motions. There's no question that Gordon Lee's First Amendment rights are being trampled upon, and so we're pleased to have brought such an intelligent and aggressive legal team in to defend him. We are all very optimistic that these motions will carry significant weight as we move through the pretrial stage of this case."
Hearings on these motions have yet to be scheduled, but are expected to occur in the summer.
To support the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund's defense of this case, please visit www.cbldf.org for information on membership and donations.