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Max Trial Begs the Issue- Why in Tampa?

TAMPA — After just 40 minutes of viewing, a federal judge said Wednesday she is reconsidering her decision to have jurors watch 8 1/2 continuous hours of violent pornography during a Hollywood producer’s obscenity trial.

Jurors squirmed in their seats, squinted their eyes and frequently looked away while watching one of the five pornographic films that prosecutors intend to use as evidence against Paul F. Little of Altadena, Calif., and his company, MaxWorld Entertainment Inc.

“I think it will be very difficult for this jury to sit through five of these,” U.S. District Judge Susan C. Bucklew [pictured] said. She planned to think about it overnight and give her decision today.

The judge placed a security officer outside the courtroom Wednesday to stop anyone who looked underage from entering and to warn others about the graphic images being displayed inside.

Little — who produces, directs and stars in his films as Max Hardcore — creates scenes that show him inflicting pain and humiliation on female actresses. His movies include urinating, vomiting and defecating, often on adult women made up to look like young girls.

Little and MaxWorld have been charged with five counts of using a computer server to sell obscene matter and five counts of delivering obscene matter through the U.S. mail. If convicted on all five counts involving the server, Little could get a maximum of 25 years in prison. Convictions on the remaining counts carry a maximum of 45 years. Judges consider a defendant’s criminal history and other factors when calculating a sentence.

The Justice Department announced its case against Little and MaxWorld in May 2007 but declined say why they chose to prosecute it in Tampa.

The general manager for a Web site hosting company testified Wednesday that his business hosted Little’s Max Hardcore site for at least three years on servers housed in an E Madison Avenue office, just a block from the federal courthouse in downtown Tampa. A postal inspector then testified that she purchased the five DVDs being used at trial by visiting the Max Hardcore site, then had them shipped to a Tampa post office box.

On the Max Hardcore site and during the opening credits of his DVDs, Little calls the depictions in his films an “important aspect of adult relationships.”

Defense attorneys say Little’s films are legal and protected by the First Amendment.

In deciding whether the films are obscene, jurors will be instructed by the judge to apply the Miller test, which is the U.S. Supreme Court’s standard for defining obscenity. The court ruled that for material to be deemed obscene, it must appeal to prurient interest, be patently offensive by community standards and have no literary, scientific, political or artistic value.

The trial resumes today at 9:30 a.m.

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