422 F.2d 34 (2nd Cir. 1969), 76-79, United States v. Wild

Docket Nº:76-79, 32510-32513.
Citation:422 F.2d 34
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Appellee, v. Edward A. WILD, Jr. and Louis Corrado, Appellants.
Case Date:October 29, 1969
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Page 34

422 F.2d 34 (2nd Cir. 1969)

UNITED STATES of America, Appellee,


Edward A. WILD, Jr. and Louis Corrado, Appellants.

Nos. 76-79, 32510-32513.

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.

October 29, 1969

Argued Sept. 11, 1969.

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William J. Gilbreth, Asst. U.S. Atty., (Robert M. Morgenthau, U.S. Atty., for the Southern District of New York, Roger J. Hawke and Douglas S. Liebhafsky, Asst. U.S. Attys., on the brief), for appellee.

Herbert Monte Levy, New York City (Hofheimer, Gartlir, Hofheimer, Gottlieb & Gross, New York City, on the brief), for appellants.

Before LUMBARD, Chief Judge, and SMITH and FEINBERG, Circuit Judges.

LUMBARD, Chief Judge:

Edward A. Wild, Jr., and Louis Corrado appeal from their convictions by a jury in the Southern District of New York of violating the Comstock Act. 18 U.S.C. § 1461. They were found guilty of conspiracy to use the mails for conveyance and delivery of obscene color slides and photographs and of numerous mailings of obscene color slides and information regarding how to obtain them. Wild was sentenced to two years imprisonment; the execution of a similar sentence upon Corrado was suspended, and he was placed on probation for two years.

The appeals raise two questions: whether the slides are in fact obscene and whether the searches and seizures conducted by postal inspectors and deputy marshals were proper. As we find that the slides and photographs are obscene and that the material which was introduced in evidence against the appellants was properly seized, we affirm the convictions.

The question of obscenity can be disposed of merely by stating that these slides are unquestionably hard core pornography. The color slides which prompted prosecution were of two general types. The first group presented a nude male, seated or lying facing the camera, holding or touching his erect penis. The second group of slides depicts two nude males in the act of fellatio.

There is no conceivable claim that these color slides have redeeming social value, and none was made. With regard to the other two elements which the Supreme Court has specified must be present for a finding of obscenity-- appeal to the prurient interest of the group likely to receive the allegedly obscene material and patent offensiveness under contemporary community standards-- the appellants argue that the Government introduced no evidence other than presenting the slides themselves. More specifically, appellants contend that the slides were designed for a male homosexual audience and that the jury was unable to decide whether there was an appeal to the prurient interest of that group without expert testimony.

We do not believe, as appellants in effect urge, that the Constitution requires the Government to produce expert testimony about appeal to the prurient interest and contemporary community standards in every obscenity case. Compare Frankfurter, J., concurring in Smith v. California, 361 U.S. 147, 164-167, 80 S.Ct. 215, 4 L.Ed.2d 205, with Harlan, J., concurring in part and dissenting in part, Id., at 170-171, 80 S.Ct. 215. It is clear that such testimony can be necessary on certain facts such as those presented in United States v. Klaw, 350 F.2d 155 (2d Cir. 1965), heavily relied on by appellants. However, the present case presents no such peculiar problems of proof. 1

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We hold that in cases such as this the trier of fact needs no expert advice. As noted above, there was no claim of redeeming social importance. Cf. United States v. A Motion Picture Entitled 'I Am Curious-Yellow,' 404 F.2d 196 (2d Cir. 1968). One group of slides graphically depicts a sexual act and the other group focuses attention on the erect genitalia of the nude male models. In this context, the issues of prurient appeal and offensiveness to contemporary community standards can be dealt with by a jury without expert help. As the Supreme Court has stated, 'in the cases in which this Court has decided obscenity questions since Roth, (Roth v. United States, 354 U.S. 476, 77 S.Ct. 1304, 1 L.Ed.2d 1498) it has regarded the materials as sufficient in themselves for the determination of the question.' Ginzburg v. United States, 383 U.S. 463, 465, 86 S.Ct. 942, 944, 16 L.Ed.2d 31 (1966). Simply stated, hard core pornography such as this can and does speak for itself. 2

In a remarkably similar case in which a conviction under section 1461 was unanimously affirmed, Judge Prettyman wrote:

Most of the difficulty which enshrouds the discussion of the law concerning obscenity and filth develops upon consideration of books and magazine articles. Here arise problems of scienter, the meaning and effect of the whole, the value of the work to proper interests of the public, the contemporary community standards in similar matters, and other baffling problems under our precious right of free speech, discussd in the several opinions in Smith v. California. (361 U.S. 147, 80 S.Ct. 215, 4 L.Ed.2d 205) But we have no such problem in the case at bar. These are stark, unretouched photographs-- no text, no possible avoidance of scienter, no suggested proper purpose, no conceivable community standard which would permit the indiscriminate dissemination of the material, no alleviating artistic overtones. These exhibits reflect a morbid interest in the nude, beyond any customary limit of candor. They are 'utterly without redeeming social importance.' * * * We think that photographs can be so obscene-- it is conceivably possible that they be so obscene-- that the fact is uncontrovertible. These photographs are such. United States v. Womack, 111 U.S.App.D.C. 8...

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