Attorney General contesting ACLU suit

CNJ staff

A lawsuit filed in Santa Fe on the behalf of a Clovis man charged with distribution of sexually explicit material to minors is being contested by the Attorney General’s office.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit early last month, listing 9th Judicial District Attorney Matthew Chandler as the defendant.

The ACLU is asking the court to clear Dean Young, 31, of Clovis of any wrong doing in placing partially nude she-devil stickers on his car. They contend his right to display the stickers is protected under the state constitution.

The state is arguing the suit cannot be brought in Santa Fe because Chandler isn’t a state officer.

Assistant Attorney General Jerome Marshak offered two reasons Chandler is not a state officer. First, a district attorney only has jurisdiction in his district; and secondly, he can’t be impeached under the state constitution.

“Also this is a Curry County case, and Curry County should make the decision,” Marshak added. “I think our position is legally correct, otherwise we wouldn’t have taken it.”

The ACLU claims that the district attorney, when enforcing state criminal law, is acting as an agent of the state and therefore can be sued in Santa Fe.

A Clovis police detective cited Young in December for distribution of sexually explicit materials to minors for the stickers on his car. The stickers depict cartoon characters involved in what some say is a sexual act.

Young was advised to take the stickers off, and he refused.

In early March, ACLU officials said Chandler was listed on the suit because he was the one who made the determination the material was harmful to minors.

Chandler maintained Monday that this trial is not about a free speech issue, as the ACLU has cast it, but about the distribution of pornographic material to minors.