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(Fwd) FC: New Mexico Internet trial starts

------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
Date:          Mon, 22 Jun 1998 19:04:17 -0700 (PDT)
From:          Declan McCullagh <declan@well.com>
To:            politech@vorlon.mit.edu
Subject:       FC: New Mexico Internet trial starts
Reply-to:      declan@well.com

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 22 Jun 1998 21:01:12 -0400
From: Adam Powell <apowell@freedomforum.org>
To: bbuchanan@fac.org, pmcmasters@freedomforum.org, declan@well.com
Subject: NM Internet trial starts

Trial Begins Today in ACLU Challenge to 
New Mexico Internet Censorship Law

     CONTACT: Emily Whitfield, (212) 549-2566

ALBUQUERQUE -- In a courtroom hearing opening today on a challenge to
a state Internet censorship law, a group of Internet users including
an artist, a gynecologist and a librarian will testify that their
speech will be chilled by the threat of criminal prosecution if the
law goes into effect on July 1.

 Saying that the law would reduce all speech on the Internet to a
suitable for a six-year-old, the American Civil Liberties Union and
the ACLU of New Mexico filed suit in April 1998 on behalf of 20
Internet users in New Mexico and around the country.  

The law, signed by Gov. Gary Johnson on March 9, makes it a crime to
disseminate online expression that involves "nudity" or "sexual
conduct." Penalties include up to one year in jail or a $1,000 fine,
or both. 

At the 9:00 a.m. start of today's trial, United States District Judge
C. LeRoy Hansen of the Federal District Court of New Mexico in
Albuquerque is scheduled to hear the government's motions to dismiss
the ACLU's challenge.

If the government's motion is denied, the case will go forward and a
hearing will begin on the ACLU's request for a preliminary injunction
to stop the law taking effect.  The group plans to present the live
testimony of an expert witness and four individuals who fear
prosecution under the law.  The ACLU has also submitted nine
affidavits and 72 examples of words and images that would be censored
under the law.

"The ACLU is prepared to prove, as we have in every other court that
has ruled on cyber- censorship laws, that the First Amendment does not
allow the government to pull the plug on Internet free speech," said
Ann Beeson, an ACLU National Staff Attorney and member of the legal
team appearing in court on Monday.

Beeson noted that the government will not be presenting any witnesses
or experts to support its case in court.  The government has submitted
a single affidavit arguing for a narrow interpretation of the law as
well some examples of ACLU client websites.

In addition, she said, the government had agreed not to argue a set of
50 separate facts about the Internet established in the ACLU's
successful Supreme Court challenge a nearly identical federal Internet
censorship law. 

The ACLU witnesses are: 
 -  Rebecca Alzofon, a San Francisco artist who teaches life drawing
 -  Carol Brey, Director, Thomas Branigan Memorial Library in Las
 Cruces -  Dr. Douglas Krell, a Santa-Fe based
 obstetrician/gynecologist -  Prof. Michael Norwood, Dir. of Computer
 & Technology Services at the
Univ. of New Mexico  
 -  Barry Steinhardt, President, Electronic Frontier Foundation, based
in San Francisco

 Prof. Norwood is testifying as an expert witness; the other four
individuals represent the plaintiffs named in the lawsuit.  

 Dr. Douglas Krell,  the New Mexico representative of OBGYN.net, plans
to testify that he does not want to censor valuable speech about
women's health available at OBGYN.net website.  The site is an online
resource on women's health issues, that often  includes explicit
discussions of sexual conduct and the female body.    

 Rebecca Alzofon, representing Art on the Net, an free online art
gallery, uses nudity in her art work and in the life drawing classes
she teaches online.  She plans to testify that she fears prosecution
because the law applies to all depictions of nudity or sexual conduct,
including artwork that she considers socially valuable for adults and
minors alike.

 Beeson said that the ACLU did not plan to present a courtroom
demonstration of the Internet because Judge Hansen is known to be
cyber-savvy.  New Mexico's district court became is the only federal
court in the nation that allows attorneys to file documents by e-mail.

 In fact, Beeson said, under the New Mexico law, the ACLU could be
prosecuted for sending its court papers in this case via the Internet
to Judge Hansen. 

 "It is sad that the state of New Mexico is now reduced to spending
taxpayer dollars to defend an indefensible law," said Jennie Lusk,
Executive Director of the ACLU of New Mexico.   "The ACLU is bringing
this lawsuit to preserve New Mexico's tradition of free expression and
appreciation for the arts and humanities."

 If the case is dismissed on Monday, the ACLU is prepared to appeal
case to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. 

 The 20 plaintiffs in the case are: ACLU, Mark Amerika of Alt-X, Art
the Net, Feminist.com, Full Circle Books, OBGYN.net, Santa Fe Online,
Sexual Health Institute, Stop Prisoner Rape, Jeff Walsh of Oasis
Magazine, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression,
Association of American Publishers, Electronic Frontier Foundation,
Freedom to Read Foundation Inc., International Periodical Distributors
Association, New Mexico Library Association, Pen American Center,
Periodical and Book Association of America, Publishers Marketing
Association, and Recording Industry Association of America. 

 Lawyers representing the plaintiffs are ACLU attorney Ann Beeson,
Senior ACLU Staff Attorney Chris Hansen, who will also argue the case
in court, ACLU-New Mexico Co-Legal Director Philip B. Davis, and
Michael Bamberger of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal in New York. 
Attorney Cassidy Sehgal, an ACLU Justice William Brennan First
Amendment fellow, also assisted in the case.

 Complete information about ACLU v. Johnson, including the ACLU's
complaint and links to plaintiff web sites, can be found on line at
the ACLU's Freedom Network website, http://www.aclu.org. 


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