LOCATION: Eastern District Court of Michigan
DOCKET NO.: 76-143
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: State appellate court
CITATION: 431 US 595 (1977)
ARGUED: Mar 23, 1977
DECIDED: Jun 06, 1977
Arthur Wells, Jr. - for petitioner
William Douglas Stein -
Facts of the case
Media for Splawn v. CaliforniaAudio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 23, 1977 in Splawn v. California
Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - June 06, 1977 in Splawn v. California
Warren E. Burger:
In 76-143, Splawn against California and in 76-167, United States against Ramsey and Kelly will be announced by Mr. Justice Rehnquist.
William H. Rehnquist:
(Inaudible) law indicates which comes here from the California state court, the petitioner was convicted in California state court on a misdemeanor charges selling obscene films.
As proposed of the evidence, the jury was instructed that it could consider the circumstances of production and dissemination of the material in assessing the social importance and thus, the ultimate obscenity of the material.
Petitioner in this Court challenges this instruction alleging that it unconstitutionally allowed the jury to consider conduct by persons other than the defendant in deciding whether the material was obscene.
He also contends that the instruction was a violation of the Ex Post Facto Clause because it was given pursuant to a state statute which went into effect after the offense was committed.
We reject both of these contentions and affirmed the conviction.
The circumstances of the materials production and dissemination are relevant to the obscene character, the material itself that are constitutionally admissible even if involving persons other than the defendant.
We also accept the view of the California Court of Appeals that state law authorized the use of such an instruction prior to the enactment of the statute relied upon by the petitioner.
There was, therefore, no violation of the Ex Post Facto Clause.
Justice -- Mr. Justice Brennan has filed a dissenting opinion in which Justice -- Mr. Justice Stewart and Mr. Justice Marshall joined.
Mr. Justice Stewart has filed a dissenting opinion in which Mr. Justice Brennan and Mr. Justice Marshall joined.
Mr. Justice Stevens has filed a dissenting opinion in which Mr. Justice Brennan, Mr. Justice Stewart and Mr. Justice Marshall joined.