The October trial against a Movie Buffs manager will go ahead and is unaffected by a 10th Circuit Court of Appeals decision handed down Wednesday, said Utah County Attorney Carlyle Bryson.
"What this does is say the federal district court should have abstained when it ruled (in November 1996) and should have allowed the matter to proceed in state court," Bryson said. "The request for injunction was an inappropriate remedy for the plaintiffs to pursue."Utah County officials raided the American Fork and Lehi Movie Buffs stores in 1996 and seized more than 800 videos. Movie Buffs filed a federal lawsuit against the county claiming the raid was unconstitutional.
At the time, U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Greene upheld the search warrants and the raid.
Janae Kingston, one of the Movie Buffs owners, then appealed to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. She appealed the district court's denial of her motion for a preliminary injunction to stop Utah County officials from prosecuting based on allegedly improperly seized evidence.
The 10th Circuit Court's Wednesday decision did not address whether a search warrant used to seize videos was adequate or inadequate but instead focused on the much narrower issue of the relationship between federal and state courts.
The 10th Circuit Court cited a U.S. Supreme Court decision that requires "that federal courts respect state functions and the independent operation of state legal systems."
That particular case, termed the Younger doctrine, interprets the relationship federal courts have to state courts. "When there is a state case which has been commenced and the state courts provide an adequate forum for resolving issues that a defendant may raise, and when a state has important state interest, the federal courts will, by and large, abstain and will not make decisions," Bryson said.
The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals essentially said that Greene should not have made any decision.
Utah County officials have scheduled a retrial for Movie Buffs general manager Larry Warren Peterman. He was charged with 15 counts of distributing pornographic material, a class A misdemeanor, in connection with videos rented and sold at the two stores in 1996.
The matter went to trial in June, 1998 in 4th District Court, but a panel of six people could not reach a consensus and a mistrial was declared.
Peterman is the only individual who faces retrial in October.
Janae Kingston earlier pleaded no contest to one third-degree felony count and one class A misdemeanor count of distributing pornographic material, although outside the court room she said that she did so not because she believes she is guilty but to avoid the possibility of being convicted of multiple felonies.
Another individual originally involved in the case, district manager Marjorie Ann Cramer, pleaded no contest to two class A misdemeanor counts of distributing pornography.
Both pleas are being held in abeyance and will be dismissed if the women comply with an agreement not to rent out videos similar to those that were seized in 1996.