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Prosecution Dismisses 4 Out of 7 Counts Against Gordon Lee

by  in Comic News Comment
Prosecution Dismisses 4 Out of 7 Counts Against Gordon Lee

Official Press Release

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund welcomes the outcome of today’s
pretrial hearing on motions brought in defense of Georgia retailer
Gordon Lee.

Four out of seven counts against Lee were dismissed before Judge F.
Larry Salmon at a pretrial hearing in Rome, Georgia. Prosecutors
dismissed both felony counts (1 & 2) of Distribution of Material
Containing Nudity or Sexual Conduct (OCGA §16-12-81), as well as the two
misdemeanor counts (6 & 7) of Distribution of Harmful to Minors Material
(OCGA §16-12-103) to alleged John Does. Three misdemeanor counts (3, 4,
& 5) of Distribution of Harmful to Minors Material to the alleged victim
were the subject of arguments not yet ruled upon.

Lead counsel Alan Begner says, “I’m delighted that the felony counts are
now thrown out. They should never have been brought and the District
Attorney waited until the last minute to dismiss them, but [co-counsel]
Paul [Cadle] and I were confident all along that they could not stand.
Now they do not stand.”

The prosecution’s decision to dismiss the felony charges mooted two of
the four motions brought by the Fund’s counsel, while the decision to
dismiss the John Doe counts mooted, in part, a third motion. The
remaining intact motion that was argued challenged the constitutionality
of the State’s Distribution of Harmful to Minors Material law on its
face and as applied to this case, specifically challenging whether the
material in question could be considered Harmful to Minors as a matter
of law.

While much of Begner’s written argument in this motion challenged the
constitutionality of the Harmful to Minors law, he explains that with
his oral argument, “I didn’t really argue the constitutionality of the
misdemeanor statutes, but I argued that the comic book as a matter of
law did not violate the law and is protected under the First Amendment.”

Begner’s arguments before the court weighed in on the constitutional
issues at stake in the remaining counts, while Cadle attacked the
remaining portions of the motion challenging the separation of
misdemeanor counts 3, 4, and 5, and State’s decision to prosecute those
counts as separate matters. Begner explains, “Paul argued that the use
of three separate counts to charge one offense was improper and was done
to make the jury believe there were three crimes committed when it
should have all been put into one count. That’s been taken under
consideration too: we asked [the judge] to require the State to put it
in one count, to properly reflect that there should be only one count

Overall, counsel was positive about the outcome of Lee’s first day in
court. Paul Cadle says, “We’re very pleased with what happened today,
and we believe that the prosecution’s dismissals are recognition of the
strength of our arguments.”

A decision on today’s arguments is expected by the end of the month. To
date the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has spent roughly $40,000 on
Lee’s defense, and is currently fundraising aggressively to shore up
money for a trial on the remaining counts.

CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein says, “We join our counsel
in welcoming today’s encouraging developments in Gordon’s case. We
never held doubt of his innocence, and the dismissal of the majority of
the counts against him vindicates our position. We were able to get
this far because of the commitment and generosity of the comics
community who have recognized Gordon’s case as a clear and present
danger to our art form and our livelihoods. We still have a long,
expensive road to travel before we get to trial, but with the continued
generosity of the comics world, we hope to be unbeatable.”

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