Wednesday, December 18, 2013

People v. Enskat case brief

People v. Enskat case brief summary
20 Cal.App.3d Supp. 1 (1971)

Appeal from the Municipal Court for the Los Angeles Judicial District of Los Angeles County (California), upon defendant's conviction for violating Cal. Penal Code § 311.2.

Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging that defendant had violated Cal. Penal Code § 311.2 in the exhibition of purportedly obscene motion pictures, which the police had seized without a warrant. Instead of securing a warrant, police officers entered the theater where the pictures were being played and then took portions of the film. At trial, a best-evidence objection was overruled on the ground that the rule did not apply. Defendant was convicted after a jury trial.


  • The court reversed and held that no evidence, other than the writing itself, was admissible to prove the contents of a writing. 
  • Motion pictures were to be accorded the same constitutional protection as books and other forms of expression, and, as the content of a film was always an issue in an obscenity case, the best-evidence rule would apply if a film were a writing under California evidence law.

Judgment reversed because the best-evidence rule was violated.

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