The American Civil Liberties Union intends to appeal a ruling by a southern Utah district judge that upheld St. George's obscenity ordinance, a spokeswoman says.
On Monday, acting 5th District Judge David Mower denied a defense motion to dismiss a charge of violating the ordinance filed last fall against Brent Turner, a St. George man who owns a T-shirt and record shop on the city's outskirts.Mike Zaccheo, co-counsel for Turner, said Tuesday the charge that Turner's shop, Blitz Action Trauma, displays obscene slogans and drawings "simply isn't true."
He said the motion was filed because the ordinance is unconstitutional in the way it is written.
"The statute goes too far by including things - like simple nudity - that the U.S. Supreme Court has said aren't obscene," he said.
Zaccheo said police officers complained about sheets hanging on the walls of the shop where customers have used spray paint to express their thoughts and paint objects.
"The things on the walls are sort of cryptic little comments. I'm not sure even Mr. Turner could tell you what they all mean, " he said.
When Zaccheo visited the store, he said it was not what he expected.
"It was a lot more tame than I expected," he said, "The records he sells are not Top 40, but they are not extreme. And the T-shirts could be seen on any kid in any mall in the state."
Ted Shumway, attorney for St. George, said the obscenity ordinance has been in effect eight years and never has been challenged.
While he has not been to the shop, Shumway said he has seen pictures taken by police and has shown them to members of the City Council, who voted to have him proceed with the case.
"This is not in a magazine under the counter. This is a store patronized by juveniles," he said.
He said the store is open only in the evening and is located about a block from Pine View High School. "This case probably wouldn't have been filed in New York City, but we have community standards here," Shumway said.
In a statement Tuesday, Michele Parrish-Pixler, director of the ACLU in Utah, said the slogans and painting displayed on the walls of Turner's shop are "extraordinarily tame."
"Freedom of speech is not just for the pure and righteous, the unthinking or the nice. It is for everyone. The right to say what you think without the police coming to arrest you is one of our most precious freedoms," she said.
Zaccheo said the appeal would be filed within 30 days.