SAN FRANCISCO — Criminal contempt charges against Hustler magazine owner Larry Flynt were thrown out today by federal appeals court and an order to release Flynt from custody was issued.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, saying it wished to "draw a curtain on a seamy and tawdry episode," voided Flynt's contempt charges and ended the 15-month string of sentences he has served for contempt of court--one for appearing wearing an American flag as a diaper and with a Purple Heart pinned to his shirt.
Judge Stephen Reinhardt said it is possible that the punishments served Flynt's purpose more than the court's. Reinhardt said it would not be in the interests of the "judicial system or the public to prolong this travesty any further."
The appeals court said there was serious doubt that Flynt had the mental capacity to commit contempt.
In another decision today, the court said a California law allowing warrantless, unannounced inspections of family day-care homes is unconstitutional.
The judges ruled in a Santa Clara County case that the current law is "over-broad" and invalid unless "sufficiently limited" by regulation to prevent general searches.