APnv 05/07 2330 Obscenity SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- An Arizona law imposing fines of up to $

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APnv 05/07 2330 Obscenity SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- An Arizona law imposing fines of up to $1 million for selling certain sexually explicit material has been upheld by a federal appeals court that rejected arguments the law is too broad and could chill freedom of expression. The law seting fines of up to $150,000 for individuals and $1 million for companies selling some sexually explicit material was upheld on Thursday by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. It unanimously affirmed a July 1984 ruling by U.S. District Judge Charles Hardy upholding the law. The court didn't address a 1986 amendment changing the maximum prison sentence from 18 months to two years. The appellate court rejected claims by owners and employees of several Maricopa County bookstores and video stores that the law's definitions were too broad and potential fines violated freedom of expression. Arizona's obscenity law defines an item as obscene if it depicts sexual activity in a "patently offensive way," if the average person using contemporary state standards would find it appeals to the "prurient interest," and if lacks "serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value" when taken as a whole. The definition is modeled on U.S. Supreme Court decisions, but the key term "prurient interest" is not defined in the law. However, the Arizona Supreme Court, in a 1979 ruling upholding the law, said to appeal to the prurient interest means "to excite lustful thoughts, a shameful or morbid interest in sex or nudity, arouse sexual desires or sexually impure thoughts ..." The Arizona court's definition interprets the law to "exclude normal, wholesome, healthy desires from the scope of `prurient interest,"' said the opinion by Judge Dorothy Nelson. She noted a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said the word "lustful" could be interpreted as referring to a shameful or morbid interest in sex. Citing that definition, the appeals court rejected the store owners' arguments that the law would allow convictions for selling items that appealed only to "normal, healthy sexual desires." Arizona uses legal guidelines that prevent a judge from imposing a $1 million fine on a "mom and pop" store, Nelson said. Only one fine has reached $25,000, with most under $7,500, she said. Last page !


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