District Judge Sim Lake's dismissal of five charges against Ashley Nicole Richards and Brent Justice is in direct conflict with the federal law, "The Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010." His failure to uphold the spirit of the law and decision to focus on semantics will have far-reaching, negative repercussions.
- The Honorable Gregory Abbott, Attorney General of Texas
We, the undersigned, are outraged by a recent decision made by District Judge Simeon T. Lake III, who serves in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas, Houston Division. This is in reference to Case 4:12-cr-00731 Document 40 Filed in TXSD on 04/17/13, MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER regarding United States of America, Plaintiff, v. Ashley Nicole Richards and Brent Justice, Defendants, Criminal No. H-12-731.
It is our belief that Judge Lake’s motion to dismiss five of the counts against Ashley Nicole Richards and Brent Justice was in direct violation of the federal law H.R. 5566, passed by the 111th Congress, 2009–2010, also known as “The Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010.”
Judge Lake’s determination was, in part, that: “…Congress has written a law to proscribe speech that seems to straddle a line between obscenity and speech integral to criminal conduct, but cannot be fairly categorized as either one. The court therefore concludes that the speech proscribed by § 48 is not excluded from First Amendment protection as speech integral to criminal conduct.” and “…As a content-based regulation of protected speech, § 48 is invalid unless the United States can demonstrate that the statute is justified by a compelling government interest and is narrowly tailored to serve that interest. …The court concludes that the United States fails to meet this burden. …Because § 48 is not limited to acts of illegal animal cruelty, the court concludes that § 48 is not narrowly tailored and therefore cannot survive strict scrutiny review. Section 48 is therefore unconstitutional.”
We believe that his ruling was ill-conceived and contrary to the spirit and intention of H.R. 5566. The “speech” contained in animal crush videos straddles no line, but is both obscene and integral to criminal conduct. The defendants claimed that “as a matter of law animal crush videos are not ‘obscene’ because that term only applies to depictions of ‘sexual conduct.’” Perhaps Judge Lake should have carefully considered the definition of the term “obscene” and realized that it refers to anything that is “repulsive; deeply offensive to morality or decency.” In this context, crush videos most certainly are obscene. We need to prevent further devaluation of life—all life. Our social norms have degenerated to such a despicable level already. We can't allow them to sink further into the abyss!
Your online profile at the Attorney General of Texas website says that “Attorney General Abbott has made protecting children and families and values the focus of his administration.” We urge you, sir, to show the residents of your state, as well as people throughout the world, that you still uphold those standards. Please do all in your power to expedite the appeals process in this case so that Judge Lake’s ruling can be overruled as soon as possible. Failure to do so will set a terrible and dangerous precedent.
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