Jenkins v. Georgia
418 U.S. 153 (1974)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Jenkins v. Georgia, 418 U.S. 153 (1974)

Jenkins v. Georgia

No. 73-557

Argued April 15, 1974

Decided June 24, 1974

418 U.S. 153

Syllabus

Appellant was convicted, prior to the announcement of Miller v. California,413 U. S. 15, and companion cases, of violating Georgia's obscenity statute for showing the film "Carnal Knowledge" in a motion picture theater. The jury had been instructed on obscenity under that statute, which defines obscene material in terms similar to the definition in Memoirs v. Massachusetts,383 U. S. 413, 383 U. S. 418. The Georgia Supreme Court affirmed.

Held:

1. Appellant, whose conviction was on appeal at the time of the announcement of Miller, is entitled to any benefit available thereunder. Hamling v. United States, ante, p. 418 U. S. 87. P. 418 U. S. 155.

2. There is no constitutional requirement that juries be instructed in state obscenity cases to apply the standards of a hypothetical state-wide community -- Miller approving, but not mandating, such an instruction -- and jurors may properly be instructed to apply "community standards," without a specification of the "community" by the trial court. P. 418 U. S. 157.

3. The film is not obscene under the constitutional standards announced in Miller, and appellant's conviction therefore contravened the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Pp. 418 U. S. 157-161.

(a) Juries do not have unbridled discretion in determining what is "patently offensive," since

"no one will be subject to prosecution for the sale or exposure of obscene materials [that do not] depict or describe patently offensive 'hard core' sexual conduct.',' . . . ."

Miller, supra, at 413 U. S. 27. Pp. 418 U. S. 160-161.

(b) This Court's own view of the film impels the conclusion that the film's depiction of sexual conduct is not patently offensive. The camera does not focus on the bodies of actors during scenes of "ultimate sexual acts," nor are the actors' genitals exhibited during those scenes. The film shows occasional nudity, but nudity alone does not render material obscene under Miller's standards. P. 418 U. S. 161.

230 Ga. 726, 199 S.E.2d 183, reversed.

REHNQUIST, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and WHITE, BLACKMUN, and POWELL, JJ., joined.

Page 418 U. S. 154

DOUGLAS, J., filed a statement concurring in the result, post, p. 418 U. S. 162. BRENNAN, J., filed an opinion concurring in the result, in which STEWART and MARSHALL, JJ., joined, post, p. 418 U. S. 162.

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