Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Adult Store Obscenity Trial Stalled Attorneys Debate Use of Sexologist

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Adult Store Obscenity Trial Stalled Attorneys Debate Use of Sexologist

Article excerpt

Attorneys in the case of the Soft Touch Adult Store are throwing some hard punches in their latest filings in Madison County Court.

Terry Lee Wernle, the owner of the bookstore, is charged with 11 misdemeanor counts of obscenity for selling adult magazines at the store at Illinois Route 143 and Interstate 55. He could face up to $1,000 in fines for each count and up to one year in jail, if convicted.

The obscenity trial was set to start July 15, but a judge agreed to postpone it at Wernle's lawyer's request.

Wernle's lawyer wants to bring a sexologist and other witnesses to the courtroom to testify about community standards in the obscenity trial.

But Michele L. Berkel, the assistant state's attorney, wants the expert witnesses barred.

"I find it preposterous to think a jury is incapable of deciding whether these materials are obscene without expert testimony," Berkel said. "They merely need to examine the magazines."

On July 15, Judge Bob Hennessey gave Wernle's lawyer seven days to file a written response to Berkel's requests. Berkel asked the judge to exclude the defense's witnesses and impose sanctions on the defense lawyer.

Roger Webber, Wernle's lawyer, argues the witnesses are "critical" to giving the jury perspective on deciding what's obscene. He also says sanctions against him are unwarranted.

In court documents this week and last, the lawyers argued about whether Webber has to provide Berkel with background information about expert witnesses.

Webber, who is from Urbana, says no. He argues that that because the case involves a misdemeanor rather than a felony, the law says he doesn't have to provide the materials. Webber also maintains he has met the requests required by the court.

Webber said he had provided "a list of witnesses and last-known addresses" and "numerous reports and certain biographical data" about the witnesses. …

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