The Law School Authority

Miller v. CA Case Brief

Summary of Miller v. CA (1973)

Miller producing pamphlet advertising “dirty” books and videos.  Arrested under CA penal code which makes it a misdemeanor to knowingly distribute obscene material.

1.       Ct tries to define obscenity b/c due process reasons (need “fair notice” of what’s criminal and not), and need to decide if ideas have value (do not want to inhibit ppl if there is value)

2.       HoldingConviction for a crime is ok IF

a.       The average person, applying contemporary community stds, would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to PRURIENT CHARACTER

(1)     Less protection for booksellers b/c applying a community (not a national) std.  Since those rural communities were the only ones prosecuting for this anyway, with a national std they are forced to use more liberal stds

(2)     More protection to booksellers b/c taking the work as a whole

(3)     Prurient = response needs to be unusual, inordinate or perverted

b.      Work depicts/describes, in patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by applicable state law, and

c.       Work lacks SLAPS (serious, literary, artistic, political, or scientific value)

3.       Thus, a pornographer could avoid this test by adding articles to the mix (e.g. Cosmo, Playboy)



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