Grand juries to determine what’s obscene

Separate grand jury investigations in two Kansas counties are expected to decide what’s too obscene for businesses to sell.

Courts in Johnson and Wyandotte counties began selecting grand juries Monday in the case pushed the Kansas City chapter of the National Coalition for the Protection of Children & Families, which delivered petitions to six county prosecutors in May seeking investigations of 32 businesses.

In the next several weeks, the jurors could decide what is and what isn’t obscene, setting standards for their Kansas communities. The jurors could be asked to watch adult videos, review adult toys, or even take field trips to the businesses.

“We don’t know yet what they’re going to want to see,” said Wyandotte County District Attorney Jerome Gorman. “Each community has to answer for itself what it will tolerate.”

The petitions in the six counties, including Jackson, Clay, Platte and Cass on the Missouri side and Johnson and Wyandotte in Kansas, ask the courts to look at strip clubs, sex shops and video rental stores.

While Kansas law requires a grand jury to be seated if enough signatures are collected, the public can’t call for one in Missouri. But in just two months, the group has had some success with Missouri prosecutors, said Phillip Cosby, executive director of the coalition’s Kansas City office.