United States v. Pryba

678 F. Supp. 1225 (1988)

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United States v. Pryba

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
678 F. Supp. 1225 (1988)

Facts

Denise E. Pryba, two other people, and one corporation (collectively, Pryba) (defendants) wanted Dr. Joseph Scott to present testimony during their trial. Scott was a sociologist who performed an ethnographic study for the defense, which purportedly demonstrated that the videos and magazines alleged to be obscene in the defendants’ case were accepted by the community. The relevant community was the Alexandria area of the Eastern District of Virginia. During voir dire, Scott explained that an ethnographic study was a new method of assessing what was happening in a community. To conduct his ethnographic assessment, Scott (1) reviewed the case materials; (2) went to over 80 bookstores, of which 69 sold sexually explicit magazines; (3) went to over 75 video stores, 43 of which carried sexually explicit videos; (4) spoke to the workers and customers of these stores regarding the adult content; and (5) assessed complaints to the letter-to-the-editor sections of newspapers to find those related to material that was sexually explicit. Scott did not show or discuss the materials in Pryba’s case. Based on this work, Scott wanted to offer testimony to the jury that the vast majority of adults in the Alexandria area had viewed material that was sexually explicit and that this type of content was acceptable within the community. Scott conducted his ethnographic study in only eight days and developed no report. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia excluded the ethnographic study.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Ellis, J.)

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