Expert Witness Reports Submitted in Nitke v. Ashcroft

New York, December 18, 2003 – The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom has submitted expert witness reports for their landmark Communications Decency Act lawsuit, Nitke v. Ashcroft (Case No. 01 Civ. 11476). John Wirenius, attorney for plaintiffs NCSF and photographer Barbara Nitke, provided 31 expert witness reports and witnesses who will testify before the three-judge panel for the Southern District of New York.


The expert witness reports support the plaintiffs’ contention that “local community standards” cannot be accurately applied to the Internet and, therefore, cannot be used to determine what is obscene. If the most restrictive communities can control what is placed on the Internet, then everyone will be restricted to that standard. The Internet is a world-wide phenomenon, therefore websites should not be held to standards specific to geo-location because community standards vary significantly from region to region and community to community.


Expert witness reports were submitted that establish self-censoring by artists because of the vagueness of this law. The importance of anonymity because of the frequent persecution of sexual minorities was also established as well as the social importance of sexually explicit speech in both art and education.


“This phase of the trial is critical because the evidence is on the table,” said John Wirenius, First Amendment attorney and author of First Amendment, First Principles: Verbal Acts and Freedom of Speech. “The plaintiffs are providing the scientific grounds for our contention that visitors to the Internet cannot be tracked, and therefore limiting content on the Internet will limit free speech. The government is obligated to show, if they can, why our experts are incorrect.”

By law the government had 30 days from the date plaintiffs identified their expert witnesses to the court to file notice of the identities of rebuttal experts and written summaries of their anticipated testimony. To date the government has filed no such notice, and the deadline has passed.


The following Experts and Witnesses filed reports:

  1. Artists Who Have Self-Censored
    • Barbara Nitke – professional photographer and co-plaintiff in CDA lawsuit
    • Patrick Califia – prolific author of essays, fiction and poetry
    • Deborah Christian – science-fiction/fantasy author
    • Nina Hartley – adult film star
    • Theresa Reed – writer, editor, and reviewer of adult videos and books
    • Candida Royalle – adult film star and producer of erotic films
    • Michele Serchuk – fine art photographer
    • Tristan Taormino – columnist, adult film producer and performer
  2. Educational Organizations that have Self-Censored
    • Dov Hechtman for TES – TES is a New York-based pansexual, educational and social SM membership group
    • Glenda Rider for FIST – FIST is a Baltimore City educational and social SM membership group for women
  3. Social Importance of Sexually Explicit Speech
    • Arthur C. Danto – Ph.D., Johnsonian Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Columbia University, art critic for The Nation, and a contributing editor of Artforum
    • A.D. Coleman – Ph.D., critic of photography, art, mass media and new communication technologies
    • Betty Dodson – artist, author, sex educator and international authority on women’s sexuality
    • Deborah Addington – author, teacher, creative writer, activist and freelance journalist
    • Gloria G. Brame – Ph.D. in Human Sexuality, author, sex and relationship expert
    • Michele Buchanan – anthropology professor
    • Charles Moser – Ph.D., MD., author of numerous peer-reviewed articles about SM
    • Carol Queen – Ph.D. in Sexology, author and editor
    • David Steinberg – photographer, columnist, editor and publisher
    • Linda Williams – author and professor of Film Studies and Rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley
  4. Importance of Anonymity
    • Eva Norvind – M.A. in Human Sexuality and Health Education from New York University
    • Katherine Ramsland – Ph.D. in forensic psychology, clinical psychology, and philosophy
  5. Geo-Location and the Internet
    • Ben Laurie – technical director and consultant, expert witness for YAHOO! in the French courts
    • Seth Finkelstein – anti-censorship activist and programmer, recently hailed by the Library of Congress’s Copyright Office
  6. Variations in Community Standards
    • Jeffrey J. Douglas, Esq. – Chairman of the Board of the Free Speech Coalition
    • Leigha Fleming – Director of Constituency Services for National Coalition for Sexual Freedom
    • Robert Thomas – convicted in Memphis, TN for speech deemed inoffensive that was posted in the Bay Area in 1996
    • Carleen Thomas – convicted in Memphis, TN for speech deemed inoffensive that was posted in the Bay Area in 1996
    • Howard Rheingold – author and editor about technology, society and creativity
    • Susan Wright – Spokesperson for National Coalition for Sexual Freedom

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