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Court asked to halt TABC porn seizures

A Houston distributor of adult magazines and other products asked a federal judge on Wednesday for an emergency order to stop the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission’s raids on liquor stores selling the company’s items.
The Carico Distributing Co. alleges that agents are raiding liquor stores throughout Texas and seizing items protected by the constitutional guarantee of free speech.

TABC agents confiscated magazines, DVDs and other materials without obtaining a warrant or judicial ruling that the materials were obscene, said Michael Lamson, a Carico attorney.

“You can’t seize people’s property without a warrant,” he said.

Spokesmen for the commission and the state attorney general’s office declined to comment until they could see the lawsuit.

The lawsuit asks U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore to schedule an emergency hearing so that Carico can argue for a preliminary injunction halting the raids. If successful, Carico would then seek a permanent injunction.

Gilmore asked Carico’s lawyers to submit a brief by Dec. 10 and wait 10 days for a response from the attorney general’s office.

The seizures began in 2002, Lamson said, and have continued despite complaints that Carico was never given a chance to dispute allegations that the materials are obscene.

“It’s just got to the point where we feel we have to have some judicial intervention to prohibit this disregard for the Constitution,” he said.

Liquor stores that carry Carico products on consignment are being threatened with losing their liquor licenses if they continue the sales, company officials allege.

Lamson said the latest raid was Nov. 14 in Liberty, northeast of Houston, and that raids have been conducted in Houston, Waco and Dallas this year.

The raids are intended to enforce a state law forbidding liquor stores from selling materials that are “immoral, indecent or profane,” he alleged.
 

 

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