At 4:30 on Friday afternoon, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund received word from its attorneys that all remaining charges against Rome, Georgia retailer Gordon Lee had been dropped.  The news was first announced by Neil Gaiman at a special CBLDF event on Friday evening at New York Comic Con (see “Gaiman at NYCC”).


The charges were dropped via a nolle prosse filing by Rome, Georgia district attorney Leigh Patterson, who did so in exchange for a written apology by Lee for giving a minor a comic sample containing a nude image of Picasso.


The offer to settle the case for the apology was a surprise to the defense, since Patterson had vowed to re-file the charges after a mistrial was declared in November (see “Whack a Mole Justice!”).  But when the February misdemeanor calendar came out, Patterson had not put the charges on the calendar, and shortly there-after, an offer was made to drop the case for the apology, according to CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein.  The apology to the minor and the family was promptly delivered, but received no response for weeks; the case was finally dropped on Friday. 

We asked Brownstein why he thought Patterson had dropped the case.  “Why after three years, over $100,000 spent by us on Lee’s defense, and who knows how much spent by the prosecution, they finally decided to drop the charges,  I certainly can’t speculate,” he said. 


Since the November trial ended in a quick mistrial, the CBLDF attorneys for Lee had filed a motion to dismiss the case due to prosecutorial misconduct, with a certificate of immediate review, which would require an immediate appeal to a higher court if the motion was denied.  The motion charged that the prosecution had intentionally scuttled the trial because a favorable jury had been seated (see “Everyone Is Sickened by what Gordon is Facing”). 


Since the mistrial, the local Rome newspaper had also turned against Patterson, wondering in an editorial why the case was being pursued.  And, you can add one other pertinent fact:  Patterson is up for election this year. 


Regardless of the reasons, it’s an outstanding development for Lee, the CBLDF, and for free speech for comics.