Criminal Law Keyed to Johnson
People v. Samuels
Marvin Samuels (Defendant) made several sadomasochistic films depicting individuals being whipped. Defendant sent one of his films to the Eastman Kodak Company (Kodak) for processing, and Kodak turned the film over to the police. Pursuant to the California Penal Code § 245, Defendant was charged with assault by means of force likely to cause bodily injury, among other crimes. One of the films was admitted into evidence and depicted a naked man who was strung up and whipped by Defendant. Defendant testified that the man had responded by telephone to Defendant’s request for volunteers for sadomasochistic films. Defendant also testified that the force of the whippings was faked and that cosmetics were used to simulate the lash marks. However, three qualified film experts testified that an examination of the film indicated that the man’s injuries progressively developed, that there were no splices in the film, and therefore, that the camera was never stopped to apply cosmetics. In addition, the film experts concluded that no retouching was done and that the film was an accurate depiction of what was actually happening. Defendant was found guilty by jury of aggravated and simple assault. Defendant appealed, arguing that the prosecution had failed to prove the crime of aggravated assault and that the man’s consent was an absolute defense to the charge, such that the trial court’s instruction that consent was not a defense was in error.
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