Just a moment: She showed the judge her rump - acquittal

The photojournalist had never experienced anything like this: A nightclub dancer held out her ass to the US judge, proving her innocence. A picture and its story.



J Dam Damask

It was a clear statement: The 20-year-old stepped in front of the judge's table, turned on her high heels and stretched out her rump Judge David Demers.

In the photo, the situation looks like a provocation at first glance. But given the serious faces of all involved, says photographer Jim Damaske, the appearance was not misleading. Because in the trial it was actually about exactly what the judge got to see.

Damaske was in 1983 an observer of this strange incident in the courtroom of Pinellas County in the US state of Florida. He worked for the local newspaper "Clearwater Sun". "Our court reporter had gotten a tip from the lawyer that something like that would happen," the 61-year-old said on a one-day request. After working as a photojournalist for more than 30 years at the "Tampa Bay Times", Damaske retired a few weeks ago. On that day he shot his most printed photo.

Three nightclub dancers had been accused of "showing too much" as they leaned forward during their performance. The accusation: "immorality". They violated a decree by the Pinella district, which prohibits nudity in places where food and drinks are served to protect health, public order and community morality.

The judge was worried about his career

Undercover agents had reported the three dancers and appeared in court as witnesses. On the other hand, the defense attorney told the judge that the women's panties were too large to show what the police claimed to have seen. Therefore, the lawyer suggested that the ladies could demonstrate their appearance in the office so that Judge Demers himself can get an idea.

Demers was only four months in office at this time. He was at the beginning of a career he hoped would be long and successful. He probably saw this goal in jeopardy, he would now be auditioned by strippers: "Oh no, they will not do that in the office, if anything, then in court," Demers told the lawyer.

Rare and strange photos from courtrooms

In German courtrooms, photography is usually not allowed. The journalist Leo Rosenthal (here crouching in front of the American UN Ambassador Adlai Stevenson) sometimes sat down over it. During the Weimar Republic, he secretly took photographs of Berlin trials and photographed thieves and criminals with hidden cameras, as well as Einstein and Hitler - both as witnesses.

The iconic image of a German courtroom is the sovereign appearance of the resistance fighter Helmuth James Graf von Moltke in front of the notorious People's Court in Berlin. Moltke belonged to the Kreisau circle, on January 11, 1945, he was sentenced to death and hanged twelve days later.

Humiliated: The resistance fighter and field marshal Erwin von Witzleben had been taken off the belt, so he had to hold his pants when he stood before the People's Court, who pursued alleged political crimes and imposed numerous death sentences. Witzleben was one of the first eight to be sentenced to death for attempting to assassinate Hitler on July 20, 1944.

Louding on the bench , Gestapo founder and Air Force Chief Hermann Göring was one of the defendants before the International Military Tribunal when the indictment for the opening of the Nuremberg war crimes trial was read on November 20, 1945.

Disregard for the court also expressed the four defendants in the Kaufhausbrandstifter trial on the day of the verdict at the end of October 1968 at the Frankfurt / Main district court. From left: Thorwald Proll with cigar, Horst Söhnlein, Andreas Baader and Gudrun Ensslin - Baader and Ensslin were later co-founders of the terrorist group RAF.

The German magazine "Quick" praised in 1981 this secretly taken in a London courtroom photos.

Photos from courtrooms are anything but taken for granted. They are banned in the US Supreme Court, the Supreme Court of the United States. The German photographer Erich Salomon managed a shot in 1932 - he faked a broken arm and hid the camera in the arm sling.

At US federal courts, however, photographers were allowed - until the trial of German immigrant Bruno Richard Hauptmann, accused in 1935 of kidnapping and murdering the baby of aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh. Because Lindbergh's prominence about 700 reporters came to the process, including about 130 photographers. In order not to disturb the trial in the court of Flemington in the US state of New Jersey, the photographing was only allowed three times a day at fixed times. Not all photographers stuck to it, including ...

... the one who photographed Lindbergh on January 3, 1935, contrary to the instructions of the court in the witness stand. As a result, cameramen - with a few exceptions - were banned from numerous US courtrooms for the next 40 years.

It was only in the late 1970s that Florida's Supreme Court opened its tentative negotiations for photographers and cameramen for a year. This made possible the nationwide transfer of the case against 15-year-old Ronny Zamora; he was accused of killing an 82-year-old neighbor just before leaving with friends for a trip to Disney World in Orlando. The photo shows Judge H. Paul Baker and the 15-year-old witness Alan Cohen. Florida then decided to continue opening its trials for image reporters.

Jim Damaske benefited from the opening of US courts for photographers and cinematographers from the late 1970s: In 1983, he shot his most famous picture at a trial in Pinellas County, Florida - how a dancer convinced the judge of her innocence by showing her backside.

He assumed that at the time, Demers said in an interview in 2012, that women would not do so in the courtroom. But they did.

"I looked at the girl and thought, no matter what happens, I should not have any facial expression, do not smile, do not frown, do nothing, because no matter what, it is misinterpreted." That worked quite well. "When you look at the photo," Demers says, "my face is as empty as it can be - and that was quite deliberate."

After two of the women had shown the poses in question, the judge ruled that their underwear did not reveal too much. With their unconventional appearance in court, the dancers thus proved their innocence.

Damaskes photo spread over the news agency UPI and later appeared in a textbook for photojournalism. In Germany, photography is not allowed during ongoing negotiations; while in US courts, on condition that they shared their material with other media, a cameraman and a photographer had just been admitted. For photojournalist Jim Damaske, the local court date had paid off.

And Judge Demers? He had resigned himself to this when, after 31 years of honorable service, he resigned from office, no doubt that was the case with which he would be remembered.

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REF: http://www.spiegel.de/einestages/florida-1983-warum-eine-taenzerin-dem-richter-ihren-hintern-zeigte-a-1247374.html