In the latest in a series of strange events surrounding the case against Rome, Ga., comics retailer Gordon Lee, a mistrial was called after the prosecutor reneged on an agreement not to mention previous legal actions against Lee.
Lee’s lawyers had reached an agreement with the judge that prosecution witnesses would not make statements about Lee’s previous conviction for distributing obscene material many years before. But in opening remarks before the jury, the prosecution referred to a statement Lee was alleged to have made about the previous legal action. Judge Larry Salmon immediately called a recess before declaring a mistrial. Lee is charged with distributing materials harmful to a minor after a promotional comic book containing nudity was given to two minors at his store in 2004.
Charles Brownstein, executive director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, which is coordinating Lee’s defense, said “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. Nobody, especially a small retailer, can bear this kind of expense on their own.”
Although the CBLDF lead lawyer Alan Begner said he planned to file a motion charging prosecutorial misconduct, a new trial is likely to scheduled for sometime in 2008.