July 18, 2003 08:12am
AL Goldstein Conviction Tossed Out
(NEW YORK, NY) -- An appeals court has thrown out the harassment conviction of a foul-mouthed pornography publisher, finding that a prosecutor erred by using inflammatory language of his own. AL Goldstein, publisher of Screw Magazine, called the decision "[%#!&@] great" and said he is eager for a new trial.
"Come and get me," he said Friday in a phone interview. "I can't wait."
A jury convicted Goldstein, 67, last year of harassing a former secretary with a barrage of obscene phone calls, editorials and commentary on a cable television show. The secretary testified that her boss went on the attack after she quit during an argument over his travel arrangements.
In a ruling issued Thursday, the three-judge appeals panel unanimously threw out the conviction and ordered a new trial, sparing Goldstein a 60-day sentence on Rikers Island.
The court found that prosecutor David Cetron improperly used "gratuitous remarks" in his closing argument, calling Goldstein and his lawyer liars.
"The line was crossed in this case," the decision said, "especially as the evidence of guilt was by no means overwhelming."
The appeals court, however, also rejected defense arguments that Goldstein's alleged crimes were harmless rants protected by the First Amendment. A jury could have properly found "That the defendant used abusive and profane language ... And that various portions of the language constituted threats," the panel wrote.
Jerry Schmetterer, a spokesman for Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes, declined comment.