Judge Advises Voter Guide Fix for Porn Condom Initiative

     SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) — A former porn actor who is suing a lawmaker and porn stars for submitting what he says are false arguments against a November ballot measure to require condoms in adult films accepted a judge’s tentative ruling Wednesday.
     Former porn actor Derrick Burts, who claims he contracted HIV from another performer in 2010, agreed to a judge’s recommendation that the official ballot argument against Proposition 60 be revamped and edited to remove false statements issued by state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, and other opponents.
     If approved by voters in November, Prop 60 would require condom use in California’s multibillion dollar porn industry, force producers to register with the state and pay for performers to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases. Producers and distributors could also be sued for violating the new safety regulations.
     Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley agreed with Burts that several of the opponents’ statements set to appear on millions of voter pamphlets this fall are misleading, specifically that Prop 60 “weakens safety standards” and their predictions of the fiscal impact on tax revenues.
     “Nothing in the measure weakens safety standards. The opponents are free to argue that adoption of the measure will weaken workplace safety, but they may not falsely argue that the measure will weaken safety standards,” Frawley’s tentative order said.
     The judge also said that the opponents used an old fiscal estimate from the Legislative Analyst regarding Prop 60’s impact and that their arguments should be updated to include the latest figure.
     Burts sued the Prop 60 opponents on July 28 in an effort to prevent California Secretary of State Alex Padilla from including the current version of their arguments on the voter pamphlet, soon to be delivered to California voters.
     While Burts and his attorney Bradley Hertz agreed to Frawley’s tentative order in court Wednesday, the opponents argued against some of the proposed changes.
     Stacy Don, attorney for the Prop 60 opponents, asked the court to allow testimony from real party in interest and porn actor Rachel “Chanel Preston” Taylor.
     Despite an objection from Burts’ attorney Bradley Hertz, Frawley allowed the porn star to take the stand and talk about her career as both an actor and producer.
     Clad in a fitted jacket and closed pink blouse, wide-rimmed glasses and with her brown hair pulled tight in a ponytail, Taylor spoke for more than 10 minutes about the inner workings of the porn industry.
     She said that Prop 60 will unfairly target actors like herself who not only work in films produced in porn studios, but also film and distribute their own content. If passed, she says Prop 60 could open her and other entrepreneurs up to liability lawsuits and that the line between “producer” and “actor” in the porn industry is cloudy.
     Taylor estimated that 75 percent of the members in the “Adult Performer Advocacy Committee” produce their own content through webcam shows or by marketing segments of films they’ve performed in.
     “There are not enough jobs for performers to make money without producing,” Taylor testified. “Actors often use other avenues.”
     Taylor said she has more than six years in the industry and operates her own website.
     Under Prop 60, she could be classified as an adult film producer and liable for safety violations and potential civil lawsuits.
     Frawley’s tentative order does side with Taylor and the opponents regarding claims that Prop 60 could create a “lawsuit bonanza.”
     “Whether the measure will allow a ‘special interest group’ to profit from the proposition is a matter of opinion, as is the question of whether the measure will give rise to an ‘unprecedented’ lawsuit bonanza. These are not objectively false or misleading statements,” the tentative ruling states.
     In total, Frawley suggested editing or removing six of the opposing arguments as well as corrections to the titles of those who signed the arguments. For example, actor Marie Louise “Nina Hartley” Levine was incorrectly listed as a registered nurse on the proposed pamphlet.
     “We think the court got the tentative ruling right,” Hertz said.
     Frawley’s final ruling is expected before the end of the week.

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