Attorneys for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund have submitted four motions to dismiss the charges against retailer Gordon Lee, owner of Legends in Rome, Georgia. Last February the CBLDF took on Lee's defense against charges resulting from accidentally distributing Alternative Comics #2, a Free Comic Book Day giveaway from 2004, to a minor (see 'CBLDF Takes Georgia Obscenity Case'). The comic includes an excerpt from 'The Salon' by Nick Bertozzi, a story that depicts an actual meeting between artists Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso. In the comic (as in the actual event) Picasso was nude, but there is no sexual content or prurient potential in the story.
Lee was charged with seven criminal counts for allegedly violating two laws. He was charged with two felony counts of violating the Distribution of Material Depicting Nudity or Sexual conduct Act, a Georgia law that bans the unsolicited delivery of any content depicting nudity to any person in the state of Georgia and carries of penalty of one to three years in prison and/or fines of up to $10,000, and five misdemeanors of Distribution of Material Harmful to Minors.
The four motions, written by CBLDF attorneys Alan Begner and Paul Cadle, were filed on May 2. The first seeks to dismiss the 'John Doe' counts, which are extrapolations based on the one mistaken distribution of the comic to a single minor whose parents complained. The second motion seeks to dismiss the felony counts based on the rule of lenity, which requires that when a defendant is charged with a felony and a misdemeanor for the same conduct, the lesser penalty must apply. The third motion seeks to dismiss the felony counts on the grounds that Georgia's Distribution of Material Depicting Nudity or Sexual Conduct Act is unconstitutional on its face and as applied in this case. The final motion seeks to dismiss the misdemeanor counts based on the Distribution of Materials Harmful to Minors Act on the grounds that the law is unconstitutional on its face and as applied to this case.
The CBLDF has already spent $20,000 on this case and will undoubtedly have to spend more as hearings are held on these motions this summer. The CBLDF held an online auction yesterday, which included items signed by Alan Moore, Kevin O'Neill, Jim Lee, Neil Gaiman, Art Spiegelman and Joe Linsner -- and the organization is looking for more art donations to assist at summer fundraising efforts at the major conventions including Comic Con and Wizard World.