Obscenity case will be heard by jury
BONNEAU -- A jury will decide if a woman who got a hefty traffic ticket for displaying big plastic testicles on the back of her pickup truck violated the state's obscene bumper sticker law.
Virginia Tice, a local resident, planned to appear in traffic court Tuesday to ask for a jury trial if the judge didn't drop the charges. As it turned out, Police Chief Franco Fuda beat her to the punch. Fuda asked for a jury trial before Tice had a chance to appear before the judge.
"The statute says obscenity should be determined by community standards," Fuda said Tuesday afternoon. "I didn't think it was fair for a judge to decide that."
The Savage & Savage law firm will represent Tice when she goes to trial, attorney Scott Bischoff said.
"It's not really a complicated case," he said.
Bischoff said he called Fuda to ask for a jury trial, and Fuda told him he already had requested one.
"I had never heard of that," Bischoff said.
He expects the case to go to trial next month.
A relative who answered the phone at Tice's house Tuesday said that Tice didn't want to talk about the case before the trial.
Tice was given a $445 ticket July 5 after pulling her pickup truck with big red fake testicles hanging from the trailer hitch into a gas station. They're called Bulls Balls and are bigger and more expensive than the popular Truck Nutz.
Both are sold online as the ultimate expression of a manly truck, but some people consider the things obscene.
Katie Fairbanks, the Dallas Morning News' Problem Solver, tackled the issue of plastic testicles in a column last year. She concluded that nothing can be done about them, and she passed on a bit of advice from a reader: "Use caution when passing this sort of driver."
At least three state legislatures -- Virginia, Maryland and Florida -- have debated outlawing the fake testicles, although none has done so.
The last major flap over the state's obscene bumper sticker law was in the 1990s, when S.C. Highway Patrol officers were pulling over drivers for decals of the cartoon character Calvin urinating.
A Gaffney couple called for a jury trial, the American Civil Liberties Union defended their right to free speech, and a judge dismissed the case.