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More on Rick Krial Obscenity Case: Prosecutor Vows to Keep Porn out of Staunton, Virginia

STAUNTON — Seven jurors are expected to be seated today in a highly anticipated obscenity case that seeks to determine Staunton’s community standards.

The much ballyhooed trial of Rick Krial, owner of After Hours Video on Springhill Road, begins this morning in Staunton Circuit Court, almost a year to the day Staunton Prosecutor Raymond C. Robertson vowed at a press conference to keep pornography out of Staunton’s stores.

In October, the same month After Hours Video opened for business, undercover agents from the Staunton and Waynesboro police departments, along with plainclothes officers from the Virginia State Police, acted as customers and purchased a dozen DVDs from the Springhill Road store. Weeks later, a special Staunton grand jury convened and charged Krial and his company, LSP of Virginia, with 16 felonies and eight misdemeanor charges of obscenity.

In January, an employee at After Hours Video, Tinsley W. Embrey, also was charged with 10 counts of obscenity, four of them misdemeanor charges.

This week’s scheduled four-day trial concerns only the misdemeanor charges against Krial, his company and Embrey. The Commonwealth can proceed with the felony charges only if it garners convictions on the misdemeanors.

The landmark United States Supreme Court case of Miller v. California in 1973 established a standard three-part legal definition of obscenity that must be met: Do applied community standards find that the material appeals to the prurient interest; is it patently offensive, sexual conduct defined by state law; and does the work, taken as a whole, lack serious literal, artistic, political or scientific value? Those are questions that must be answered by the jury.

The court case will feature a number of legal heavy hitters. Paul Cambria Jr., [pictured] a nationally known attorney from Buffalo, N.Y., has battled for the adult entertainment industry in a number of high-profile cases, including serving as counsel for publisher Larry Flynt. Cambria also has represented musicians DMX and Marilyn Manson, according to his Web site. Krial retained Cambria in November.

Another attorney of national renown, Louis Sirkin of Cincinnati, entered the fray shortly after Embrey’s January arrest. Sirkin, who will represent Embrey, gained national recognition in 1990 when the director of the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati was found not guilty after being charged with displaying the controversial artworks of Robert Mapplethorpe. Sirkin also has represented Larry Flynt, who opened a Hustler Store in Cincinnati that was later raided by authorities in the late 1990s.

Both Cambria and Sirkin are considered to be the top two First Amendment attorneys in the nation.

Robertson will be assisted by Matthew Buzzelli, an obscenity attorney with the United States Department of Justice.

Jury selection for the case could take up to two days. Thirty-five potential jurors are expected to arrive this morning and another 25 have been scheduled for Wednesday if needed, according to Tom Roberts, clerk of Staunton Circuit Court. A misdemeanor trial only requires seven jurors.

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