Jurors in the Movie Buffs pornography trial resumed deliberations Wednesday morning after failing to reach a verdict during eight hours behind closed doors Tuesday.
The four-man, two-woman jury received instructions and heard closing arguments Tuesday morning in the trial of Larry Warren Peterman, who is charged with 15 counts of distributing pornographic material, a Class A misdemeanor. Jurors began deliberations about noon and didn't conclude for the night until after 8 p.m.The protracted wait had Peterman, Movie Buffs general manager, on edge but hopeful. The longer the jury deliberated, the more confident Peterman's attorney became that jurors would acquit the 50-year-old West Point man on at least some of the counts.
Prosecutors, meanwhile, effected a calm demeanor Tuesday, asserting confidence that they had accomplished their goal - regardless of the jury's verdict. Deputy Utah County attorneys seemed pleased that they had been able to complete the case, which included showing 15 hours of sexually explicit videotapes, without the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver throwing out a search warrant used during a 1996 raid at Movie Buffs stores in American Fork and Lehi.
And even if the appeals court does invalidate the search warrant, the jury's verdict still will have established a community standard for pornography, prosecutors believe.
"As a whole, do these horrible, sleazy films violate the community standard?" prosecutor Curtis Larson asked jurors during closing arguments Tuesday. "Of course they do - all they are is sex films.
"Today you have the opportunity to tell the pornographers that they are wrong about bringing these movies into Utah County."
Jurors, however, apparently weren't sure they wanted to seize the opportunity. The eight hours of deliberating seemed surprisingly long, especially given the fact that the jury's only task is to compare the 15 videos to a three-pronged statute commonly known as the "Miller test."
Several times during deliberations, the jury submitted questions to a bailiff, who relayed them to 4th District Judge Lynn W. Davis. The jury requested but did not receive, copies of the state law dealing with pornography and the definition of a Class A misdemeanor. Davis replied that the jury instructions they received before beginning deliberations were sufficient to explain the law.
Mooney appeared prepared to concede that the jury would convict Peterman on at least several of the counts. Two of the movies, "Jugsy" and "Private Audition," were clearly more patently offensive in their depiction of sexual conduct, he admitted to jurors in closing arguments.
However, Mooney said, two of the movies, "Getting Personal" and "Sticky Lips," clearly are not pornographic because they have more well-developed plots than the others, giving the two films some artistic value that moves them out of the pornographic category.
Mooney also lamented that the jury hadn't been allowed by Davis to watch more graphic X-rated films that he contends would have shown a clear difference between what is pornographic and the cable-edited versions that are being prosecuted.
"Don't let yourself be pushed by rhetoric or shock," Mooney said. "I don't think this community finds lovemaking between two consenting adults to be prurient."
But Larson argued that the films didn't simply depict "lovemaking between two consenting adults." In fact, he gave jurors a vulgar description of each movie and asserted that the films' only purpose is to degrade women and depict life as simply moving from one sexual encounter to another.
The opposing attorneys also disagreed on how many times the films depicted actual sexual penetration, which could be a key to determining whether or not the films are pornographic.
Larson said penetration is shown a total of 18 times in five or six of the movies, but Mooney conceded only that penetration was shown four times in two movies.
Even those, he said, were aberrations that resulted from incorrect editing of the movies by distributors, and were not Peterman's fault.
Meanwhile, American Fork resident Doug Brockbank, one of several people who organized a petition drive in 1996 to take action against Movie Buffs, said Tuesday that he wished prosecutors would have submitted his signed petitions as evidence.
"We feel like many thousands of people have already spoken," he said, asserting that a boycott of Movie Buffs forced the American Fork store to close last year.
Brockbank called on the Lehi City Council to revoke Movie Buffs' business license because, he said, the store violated its own promises to rent nothing more graphic than R-rated films.