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Attorney: “Max Bludgeons the Senses”; Jury Resumes Deliberations Thursday in Hardcore Case

TAMPA — Jurors deliberating in the obscenity trial of a Hollywood filmmaker asked a judge to clarify the meanings of several words and phrases in their jury instructions today, including “morbid and degraded,” “unhealthy interest in sex,” and “candid interest in sex.”

U.S. District Judge Susan C. Bucklew declined their request to use a dictionary and told them to rely on their common sense. Soon after the judge’s response, jurors decided to return Thursday to continue deliberations after spending more than four hours today discussing the case.

Jurors began deliberations just after 1 p.m. [ET] today in the trial of Paul F. Little of Altadena, Calif., and his company, MaxWorld Entertainment Inc.

They must now decide whether the films produced Little and MaxWorld — which include graphic scenes of urinating, vomiting and humiliating women — violate local community standards.

In their questions to the judge, jurors also wanted further explanation on an instruction to consider whether Little’s films were intended for the average person of the community as a whole or members of a deviant sexual group. And if the had to consider the interests of both groups in their deliberations.

The judge told them it was one or the other.

Defense attorneys called on jurors to consider the nearly six-dozen adult-oriented businesses across the Tampa Bay region, and infer what that says about the community, when searching for a verdict.

The New York Yankees’ spring training facility sits across the street from an adult bookstore in Tampa, MaxWorld attorney Louis Sirkin told jurors. The surrounding area, known as Drew Park, contains dozens more.

If everything placed into the public arena was “pretty and what was acceptable, we wouldn’t need the First Amendment,” Sirkin said during closing arguments. “You decide what you want to view and what you don’t want to view in private as long as it’s consensual.”

Edward McAndrew, [pictured] a Justice Department attorney prosecuting the case, said just because something is available in a community doesn’t mean it’s accepted by that community. He said the sights and sounds of Little’s films “bludgeon the senses,” and told jurors that no one would blame them from running for the exit when the films began playing in open court had the law not required that they stay and watch.

“You probably had never seen anything like that before. You know what you saw, and you know how it made you feel,” McAndrew said. “These videos aren’t only offensive, they assault your senses.”

Prosecutors charged Little and MaxWorld with five counts of using a computer server to sell or distribute obscene matter and five counts of using the U.S. mail to deliver obscene matter.

Little performs in his films as Max Hardcore, whose Web site was housed about a block from the federal courthouse in downtown Tampa for more than three years.

“The government brought the case here because we couldn’t find a closer courthouse,” said McAndrew, which was the first time a Justice Department official explicitly stated why they elected to prosecute Little in Tampa.

The defense says prosecutors have charged the wrong defendants.

They say Little never knew his Max Hardcore site was hosted in Tampa, and prosecutors never produced any evidence to prove that he did.

Defense attorneys have also said that Little sold his Max Hardcore films to California-based adult film distributor Jaded Video, which then sold the videos to an undercover federal agent and shipped them to a Tampa post office box.

The government granted immunity to the president of Jaded Video in exchange for his testimony at trial.

Since the trial began last week, jurors have had to sit through about 8-1/2 hours of pornography produced by and starring Little as Max Hardcore. If he’s convicted of the charges, he could face substantial prison time.

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