200711051116After many, many fits and starts, the trial of retailer Gordon Lee begins today in Rome, Georgia. Lee is charged with the misdemeanor charge of distributing harmful materials to a minor, stemming from giving a 2004 incident in which he gave a comic book with a nude Pablo Picasso to two 6- and 9-year-old brothers. The pre-trial story in the local paper is here.

The local paper ran a story earlier last week, in which Lee had a rather different role as a take-no-prisoners tough guy who stops at nothing to bring evil doers to justice:

Lee gave chase to two women accused of stealing two puzzles from Legends at 317 Broad St. at about 3 p.m.

Lee jumped on the hood of the car driven by one of the suspects as she pulled out from a parking space in front of his store. She drove around the block, and Lee fell off. He was not hurt.

Police later arrested Linda Hughes, 22, of 7 Texas Ave., and Stefanie Childers, 26, of 455 Clearwater St., Rockmart, and charged them with shoplifting, according to Floyd County Jail records.


Which Lee will prevail this week? We’ll bring you any developments as they happen.

1 COMMENT

  1. Kudos to Gordon ! When I used to work at a Circle K convenience store in Northern San Diego, I would chase after kids who use to make midnight beer runs and pull them right out of their cars and pummel them silly. One such evening happened on a Halloween night and the dude was a wearing a dress. What a sight that was when that dude went flying over the hood and landed on the street. Got the beer back, with only breaking a few bottles in the process.

    Needless to say, I stopped being a Johnny Circle K junior law man when seven of them went all Marvel Team Up on me and started kicking me in the head.

    Ah, the glory days of retail.

    ~

    Coat

  2. Gordon Lee Case Declared A Mistrial
    (from the CBLDF website: http://www.cbldf.org/pr/archives/000335.shtml)

    The case against Gordon Lee took another in an ongoing series of bizarre turns this afternoon when statements made by State prosecutor John Tully during opening arguments led to a mistrial.

    Lee and his legal team, paid for by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, appeared in court this morning for jury selection and returned in the afternoon to begin the actual trial. Before the jury was brought in to begin the trial, lead counsel Alan Begner argued an oral motion in limine asking the judge to instruct prosecutors that they could not admit statements from their witnesses alluding to Lee’s character and previous legal actions Lee has been party to. Prosecutors assured the court that they had instructed their witnesses not to address Lee’s previous conviction for selling adult comics to an adult. Then during opening statements in front of the jury, prosecutor Tully said witnesses will testify that Gordon was defensive and that Gordon had told police, “I’ve been through this before,” a clear reversal of his earlier statement to the judge that prosecutors would not be entering such statements into the record.

    When Tully made his statement, defense counsel stared at each other in disbelief before Begner leapt up to demand a mistrial. Judge Larry Salmon put his head in his hands and called a 15 minute recess.

    Upon returning to the courtroom, as a result of Tully’s statement, Salmon declared a mistrial, because the statements alluding to the prior incident contaminated the jury beyond repair for a fair trial.

    “This is a victory, but we wish it was over,” said CBLDF lead counsel Alan Begner. “We believe that prosecutors induced this mistrial on purpose, because we had a jury that looked more defense oriented. We’re prepared to quickly file a motion to argue that no new trial should be scheduled because this mistrial was intentional and constitutes prosecutorial misconduct.”

    Begner adds, “Time and again we’ve been here and have been told to go home because of the prosecutors’ actions. Meanwhile, it’s Gordon who suffers. It’s been three years since this case began, and for three years Gordon has had this hanging over his head. Today his good name is still not cleared.”

    Lee’s trial comes after three years of legal action arising from the Halloween 2004 distribution of Alternative Comics #2, a Free Comic Book Day sampler which featured an excerpt from the critically acclaimed graphic novel The Salon that depicted Pablo Picasso in the nude, and was allegedly handed to a minor. The CBLDF has spent over $80,000 on Lee’s defense since taking the case in early 2005, and expects costs to reach six figures by the end of the trial. The case has been ready for trial three times – the first, in April of 2006, when prosecutors dismissed and re-filed the charges because their facts were wrong; the second last August when the judge’s illness led to a rescheduling; and today when statements made by the prosecutor led to a mistrial. To date the Fund has spent over $80,000 on the defense.

    “Never in the Fund’s history have we seen prosecutorial conduct of this nature,” says CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein. “We’re dumbfounded by prosecutors assuring the court that they weren’t going to do something, and then doing exactly that thing five minutes later. Every step of the way they have been adding further expense to Lee’s defense, first by changing their facts, then by entering new indictment after new indictment, and today by contaminating the jury. Nobody, especially a small retailer, can bear this kind of expense on their own. Today’s action is clear evidence of why the Fund needs to be around to protect comics.”

    The next step for the case is uncertain, but could see trial again in 2008.