Monday, July 28, 2008

Iowa Revisits Art v. Profanity Issue in Judge Timothy O'Grady's Court Room

During a week when reunions are a common theme, Legal Pub revisits the controversial topic of art v. pornography. Recently, a small town in the State of Iowa has become a focal point in the controversy. Iowa's state's public indecent law prohibits strip clubs but allows nude dancing at "art centers." In the town of Hamburg, population 1,200, District Judge Timothy O'Grady entertained oral arguments in July of 2008 involving an art center which has nude models. The case is currently under advisement.

What makes the case even more interesting is that a 17-year-old niece of Sheriff Steven MacDonald removed her clothing at "Shotgun Geniez" in Hamburg. Owner Clarence Judy was subsequently charged with violating Iowa's indecent exposure law. The defense argues that state law prohibiting nudity does not apply to a "theater, concert hall, art center, museum, or similar establishments" devoted to the arts. Since dance is an art, like sculptures or paintings, it is protected. Clarence's club is arguably a place where people can exercise their artistic tendencies and literally perform argues Clarence Judy's lawyer, Michael Murphy. Is it art? Murphy says the club has a gallery selling collectible posters and other art. The club provided customers with sketch pads. (Does it encourage freehand expression of ones talents?)
Fremont County Attorney Margaret Johnson, strongly disagrees that this club is engaged in protected activity. She argues that this is a case involving a naked, underage girl. Clarence Judy counters that you have to be 18 to be in the club. He claims that the 17 year old sneaked into the establishment.

The prosecution argues that the exceptions to the state law was intended to allow movies to have brief nudity and to allow art galleries the freedom to display paintings or sculptures involving nudes. A 1998 case involving the Southern Comfort Free Theatre for the Performing Arts in Davenport, Iowa declared nude dancing to be "art." But Judge O'Grady will not be bound by that case as precedent. He will decide the current case on the facts and his interpretation of the law. Regardless of how Judge O'Grady rules, the case will probably end up in the Iowa Supreme Court because a definitive high court ruling would give guidance to clubs throughout the state. In a day and age when murder investigations have become too common place, it is not surprising that so many of the male Legal Eagles offered to go to Iowa to investigate these clubs.


california surfer dude said...

I knew there was a reason why I do not surf in Iowa. This must be why.

Surfer Dude

blond bombshell said...

Or surfer dude, might it be because there is no ocean front in Iowa?


Anonymous said...

Why is the world so against our birth day suits?

Ms Calabaza said...


sshhhh! don't tell him.

Anonymous said...

Surfer Dude is out there. I am surprised he did not try to surf New York which recently reported 10 foot waves during recent storms.

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