More on comics clerk’s conviction

Reader William Dyer (BeldarBlog) writes that he “was disappointed to see your brief entry today on Overlawyered regarding the Jesus Castillo obscenity case. The stories you linked today are filled with factual errors and generally overblow the story.”

Mr. Dyer continues (we excerpt from his letter:) “Mr. Castillo was probably convicted based on his lawyer’s failure to make a timely trial objection to the prosecutor’s conflating of the real issue (obscenity under Miller v. California) with a bogus one — ‘the availability to kids/proximity of an elementary school’ issue. Mr. Castillo served no jail time; his 180 day sentence was probated, his $4000 fine was paid by supporters, and his $60,000 legal fee (*cough*) was paid by the CBLDF [Comic Book Legal Defense Fund]. Had the CBLDF been remotely realistic about their chances of getting U.S. Supreme Court review on this case, Mr. Castillo’s probation would already be over now; instead, it’s just now beginning. If anything, the Dallas Court of Appeals’ opinion establishes that comics are subject to all the same constitutional protections as other publications.”

As Mr. Dyer points out, the Castillo affair has given rise to a substantial weblog literature over the past few days. Readers may start with this much-updated post on his own BeldarBlog which forcefully corrects the impression that the case has generated any sort of precedent according lower free-speech protection to comics. Ampersand (Aug. 13 and Aug. 16) also downplays the significance of the case. Eugene Volokh (Aug. 15) and Julian Sanchez comment as well. And (we really should have caught this one) Jim Henley of Unqualified Offerings, whose original item on the case we linked this morning, added several more posts on Thursday (Aug. 14, scroll down) agreeing on some points with Dyer and Ampersand but concluding that the prosecution’s use of the “comics are for kids” argument to the jury remains “outrageous” and “prejudicial”.

One Comment

  • Which headline has more sizzle: “Supreme Court strips porno-comics of First Amendment Protection” or “Man convicted because his lawyer failed to object”?

    That incredible constitutional ruling that stripped First Amendment protection from comic books because they’re just for kids, surely that’s a big deal! Except … that’s not at all what the Dallas Court of Appeals actually said.