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Clearing the Throat

SMUT

"Your honor, if we may interrupt just for a minute, we can work this out very quickly," assistant district attorney Larry Hardoon told a state court judge one morning late in July.

Minutes later, it was all over--charges were formally dropped against Carl Stork '81 and Nathan Hagen '81, the two Quincy House students arrested last spring after they showed "Deep Throat" in the House dining hall.

In return, the district attorney's office got an agreement from Stork and Hagen to release the name and address of the distribution company that had rented them the print, supposedly to allow them to prosecute that firm.

But the district attorney already knew the company's name and address--it was on the film cannister they seized--and they knew as well that there was almost no chance they could prosecute an out-of-state firm like the New York distributor that rented the movie to Hagen and Stork.

"It was a face-saving measure for the district attorney," Alan Dershowitz, professor of Law, who defended the pair free-of-charge, said. Dershowitz speculated that the federal court suit filed by Stork and Hagen, claiming their rights were violated by the arrest, made the state more willing to drop charges.

That federal suit is still pending, although American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Jeanne Baker, who is handling the case, concedes that it will be next to impossible to recover damages from the district attorney's office for wrongful prosecution.

"The prosecutor has substantial claims to prosecutorial immunity," she said.

It was a deposition taken by Baker that led to the charges' being dropped. Middlesex County district attorney John Droney, speaking through an interpreter because of a serious speech impediment, told Baker that "I believe any showing of this film is connected with organized crime."

Following the same line of questioning for the next few minutes, Baker got Droney to say that what he would really like to do was shut down the distributor. Offered a "hypothetical situation," Droney said he would free Stork and Hagen if they supplied the name of the distributor.

"We had a short recess and I looked at the can of film which they had seized at Quincy House when the movie was shown," Dershowitz said. "There was the name of the company and the address right on it," he added.

Baker said she thought Droney might have "been trapped into making a couple of responses, but I believe he was from the outset looking for a way to proffer a deal."

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