December 14, 2006 in Nation/World

ACLU subpoenaed over document

The Spokesman-Review

Federal prosecutors are demanding that the American Civil Liberties Union turn over all copies of a secret document it has obtained, in what is apparently the first time a criminal grand jury subpoena has been used in an attempt to seize leaked material, the ACLU and legal experts said Wednesday.

Prosecutors obtained the subpoena Nov. 20, saying their demand was part of an investigation into an alleged violation of the Espionage Act of 1917. The ACLU says the 3 1/2-page document contains no information that should be classified and the memo is only “mildly embarrassing” to the government.

The subpoena issued in the Southern District of New York provides the latest example of the Justice Department’s aggressive use of the anti-spying law, a broadly worded and little-used statute that has become the bedrock in a series of leak-related investigations by the Bush administration.

In a motion filed in federal court, the ACLU called the subpoena an “unprecedented abuse” of the government’s grand-jury powers.

Panama City, Fla.

‘Girls Gone Wild’ producer sentenced

The Santa Monica, Calif., entrepreneur who made a fortune persuading drunken women on spring break to bare their bodies for his “Girls Gone Wild” videos will be making frequent trips back to Florida, but this time for court-ordered community service.

Joe Francis’ Mantra Films received a 30-month service sentence Wednesday in Panama City, Fla., after admitting it failed to document the ages of minors filmed for its videos. In a twist, U.S. District Judge Richard Smoak challenged Francis to perform additional hours of service himself in lieu of his employees having to do it.

Smoak said he added the community service because he thought it would be a more meaningful punishment than an already agreed upon $2.1 million fine.

Columbus, Ohio

Court turns down smoke-break appeal

The Ohio Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected an appeal from a death-row inmate who argued that his sentence should be thrown out because the jury was denied smoke breaks.

Phillip E. Elmore’s attorneys had argued that the judge’s refusal to let jurors smoke amid deliberations made the jury antsy and overly eager to finish the case. In a 7-0 opinion, Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton wrote that there was only one smoker on the jury, which took six hours to convict Elmore of aggravated murder and three hours to recommend his execution.

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email