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"Feds drop porn-trial subpoena for Salon writer"

on Thursday, 01 March 2012. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Politico

The Justice Department has dropped its effort to force a a writer for the online magazine Salon to testify at the obscenity trial beginning this week for a California-based pornographer, the writer said Tuesday.

Salon writer Tracy Clark-Flory said in a story posted Tuesday that she was subpoenaed by prosecutors pursuing Ira Isaacs, who produced and distributed fetish and bestiality videos that prosecutors contend were legally obscene. Clark-Flory said prosecutors planned to fly her from San Francisco to Los Angeles and put her up at a hotel so she could testify about an interview she did with Isaacs last year.

However, she told POLITICO that on Tuesday afternoon, her lawyers were told by the government that her presence for the trial was no longer needed.

"I just got word the prosecution sent an e-mail to my lawyer around early afternoon that the government decided it will not be calling me after all," a relieved Clark-Flory said in a telephone interview. "I wonder if it occured to them that, maybe, compelling a journalist to go on the stand for this trial...would end up being too messy a situation or be a bigger pain than it was worth."

Justice Department policy requires that, in most cases, subpoenas for journalists be approved in advance by the Attorney General.

It's unclear whether that occurred in this instance, but Attorney General Eric Holder called attention to the case Tuesday at a Congressional hearing. Asked by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) about concerns that adult obscenity cases have been flagging since Holder disbanded a small Bush-era Adult Obscenity Task Force and combined its operations with a DOJ unit that handles child exploitation cases, Holder pointed specifically to the Isaacs case, which was filed back in 2007.

"The merger has not impacted our desires to go after appropriate adult obscenity cases," Holder said. "Our emphasis, I will be very frank with you, is on cases involving children. But I will note that there is a major case that is starting I believe either today or tomorrow in Los Angeles, the Isaacs matter, that involves adult obscenity."

"That is, I think, an example of what we are doing in that regard," Holder added. "There has not been a diminution of our focus on that as a result of the merger." ...

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