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Doubt Legality of Police Film Seizure

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1 Doubt Legality


The legality of the seizure by
Ann Arbor police of an alleged-
ly obscene film was questioned
in a "friend of the court" brief
filed in Municipal Court by the!
Civil Liberties Board of the Uni-
versity Faculty Assembly.

The film, "Flaming Crea-'
tures," was seized Jan. 18 by
Detective Lt. Eugene Stauden-j
maier after it had been on the1
screen a few minutes in the Uni-
versity's Architecture Auditori-j
um. It was wnoi theSExperi-
mental Film Series prestoted
by the student Cinema Gaild.?
Three studenfc^members o^the'
Cinema Guild BoaT*^*1'^ fac-
ulty member employed as as-
sistant manager were arrested
on charges of showing an ob-
^•(•isp film. \

i ;!<. Civil Liberties Boar d
asked to enter the case as an
amicus curiae to raise the ques-
tion "whether the procedure
employed by the police in this
case to enforce the state's ob-
scenity law is consistent with
the first amendment" to the
U. S. Constitution.

The brief notes that "the pow-
er to act as arbiter of public
performances, which the Su-
preme Court has prohibited even
to courts in the absence of a
prior adversary hearing, and
which the University does not—
under academic freedom prin-
ciples—permit to be exercised
by any official acting as Uni-
versity censor, has here been
exercised by a single employe
of the city police department."

The police seized the film
without the court first having
passed on the question of ob-
scenity, the brief notes.

"What is at stake here," con-
tends the board, "is whether a
police officer is to have the
power to determine, ex parte
(from one side only), that the
members of the University com-
munity shall not see certain
films or plays, or read certain
books, prior to a determination
by a duly authorized judcicial
officer that such materials may
be outside the protection of the
constitutional right of free

The Civil Liberties Board said
it was "concerned about the
precedent this case might set
with respect to freedom of ex-
pression and of inquiry within-
the University community." In
its motion to enter the case at
this point on the question of
search and seizure, the board
asked the court's permission "to
participate in such further mat-
ters as may come before the
court in this case."

A report to the University
community, covering broadei
issues, will be made in the
near future, according to Civil
Liberties Board Chairman Abra-
ham Kaplan, a professor of phil-