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Sakas Trial Set for This Week; City Of New Bern Has Until June 16 to Answer Lawsuit

New Bern, North Carolina- The city of New Bern has moved a lawsuit filed against it by Pure Bliss to United States District Court.

Pure Bliss, an adult business, filed the suit in Craven County Superior Court several weeks ago. The city then filed a notice of removal to U.S. District Court because the suit alleges violations of federal constitutional rights, including the First Amendment right of freedom of speech.

Scott Davis, New Bern city attorney, said federal courts have jurisdiction over federal questions in lawsuits. He also said that when constitutional matters are in question, federal jurists are sometime more familiar with those issues.

The city has until June 16 to answer the suit filed by Pure Bliss.

The suit seeks damages and the return of merchandise confiscated by the police. The defendants are the city, Police Chief Frank Palombo and two detectives, Carlos Richard Hughes Jr. and Marcus Kirk.

The store on Neuse Boulevard was raided by New Bern police Jan. 29, 2007, and again Sept. 11, 2007.

The raid resulted in criminal charges against employees and the store owner, Greg Sakas.

They were charged with operating more than one adult business under one roof, maintaining a multi adult establishment, two counts of possession of a toxic substance and two counts of selling a toxic substance.

Under state law, only one category of adult merchandise, such as videos or sex toys, can be sold in one store.

Glenn Barfield, the Goldsboro lawyer for Pure Bliss, said in the suit that the police action was a violation of the First and Fourth amendments. The First Amendment guarantees free speech and the Fourth Amendment guarantees against search and seizure unless there is probable cause.

In the suit, Barfield cites the Fifth Amendment, which says that a person cannot be tried twice for the same reason. The suit also contends that the 14th Amendment, which guarantees due process, was violated.

The employees and Sakas, who were arrested as a result of the raids, have not been to trial in Craven County District Court on the criminal charges filed against them.

Their court date is set for May 23.

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