Santa Ana : Notes OK in Adult Theater, Judge Rules

Robert McGuire, who has been paid by the city for the last 11 years to film movies at the Mitchell Bros. adult movie theater, can go back in and take notes but can't use a camera or a tape recorder pending an Aug. 8 hearing, a Superior Court judge ruled Monday.

The retired police officer earned $30 an hour to record activities at the 17th Street theater that the city has been trying to shut down via lawsuits for more than a decade. On July 16, theater security determined what McGuire was doing and ordered him out, prompting a legal challenge from James Clancy, an attorney under contract to the city.

Judge Harmon Scoville said he will decide whether McGuire is entitled to film the theater proceedings at an Aug. 8 hearing. At the same time, Scoville said he will rule on other pretrial issues, including motions by theater attorney Tom Steel to disqualify Clancy and move the trial to another county.

Scoville said his preliminary intention is to reject the request for a change of venue.

"You have all kinds of people here who have never heard of Mitchell Brothers. . . . I see no reason why we can't try it here in Orange County," he told Steele.

Despite Scoville's ruling, Clancy requested a ruling on the McGuire issue Monday, contending that the theater has consistently ignored his attempts to subpoena copies of the films. Scoville, he said, should rule whether they can continue to ignore that or "say 'nuts to you,' " he said.

Outside the courtroom, Steele said the theater would comply with Scoville's order and allow McGuire to continue his 10-year assignment, if only for the purpose of taking notes.

"We realize how habit-forming this can be," he joked.

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