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PLATT AMUSEMENT ARCADE, INC. v. JOYCE

August 18, 1970

PLATT AMUSEMENT ARCADE, INC., Sneak-A-Peak, Inc., Isadore Rosenberg, Jean Bauers, Max Levine, Arthur Berta, Louis Locanta and Fredda Thomas
v.
Stephen A. JOYCE, Superintendent of Police, Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, Mayer DeRoy, an Assistant Superintendent of Police, Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, and Regis Holleran, Police Officer of the City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania


Weis, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: WEIS

The continuing uncertainty about the proper procedures to be followed in obscenity cases brings another matter in that category to this court. On July 27, 1970 police officers from the City of Pittsburgh raided three establishments owned by the corporate plaintiffs, Platt Amusement Arcade, Inc., Sneak-A-Peak, Inc., and seized a quantity of motion picture films which were used in the projectors for this "peep show" type of operation. The seizures were made pursuant to search warrants secured from the chief magistrate of the City of Pittsburgh on affidavit of a police officer describing the type of materials as being obscene and after the magistrate and a judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County viewed films of similar characteristics previously purchased from the plaintiffs' establishments by the officer.

 In the course of the raid the individual plaintiffs were arrested and charged with violation of the Pennsylvania Obscenity Statute, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and corrupting the morals of a minor. Two sets of prosecutions are now pending in the state court, the preliminary hearings having been scheduled but not yet held.

 The first of the prosecutions are those based upon the movies purchased by the police a few days before the raid and for which summons were issued without arrests pursuant to the provisions of the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure. The second set of prosecutions arise from the arrests occurring on the night of the "raid".

 The plaintiffs have come to this court asking for:

 
(1) Return of the movies seized on July 27, 1970;
 
(2) An injunction against prosecution of both series of criminal actions in the state courts;
 
(3) An injunction enjoining future prosecutions on the claim of harrassment by the city authorities who allegedly threatened to continue arrests for similar offenses;
 
(4) A request to convene a three judge statutory court to pass on the constitutionality of:
 
(a) the Pennsylvania Law on obscenity;
 
(b) Pennsylvania Statutes relating to corrupting the morals of a minor and contribution to the delinquency of a minor.
 
(5) Damages for interruption of the business of the corporate plaintiffs at one location for a number of days following the "raid".

 The City of Pittsburgh, the actual, although not the named defendant, in advance of the hearing agreed to return all of the films except approximately twenty which were duplicates of those in stock at the plaintiffs' "arcade"; those purchased by the police officers; and the one film which was in a projector allegedly being viewed by two 16 year old youths at the time of the raid.

 Unquestionably, the law regarding obscenity is in a period of change and there is a great deal of confusion regarding both the standards to be utilized in determining obscenity and the proper procedure to be followed in instituting various forms of legal action. The situation has resulted in the large number of cases coming before the courts and the consequent plethora of opinions. A ...


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