Originally created 03/03/05

Injunction for X-Mart denied



Score one more point for local officials hoping to limit pornography in the Garden City.

In a ruling handed down Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Dudley H. Bowen Jr. denied a preliminary injunction motion by Augusta Video X-Mart, an adult bookstore embroiled in legal battles since 2002.

Judge Bowen's ruling keeps the pornography shop, which has already been closed for more than a year, out of business for several more months, X-Mart attorney Gary S. Edinger said.

"It's disappointing," Mr. Edinger said of the ruling.

As a result of Judge Bowen's decision, Mr. Edinger plans to take the city of Augusta to federal court in order to reopen X-Mart, he said.

The trial will focus on whether the Augusta Commission had sufficient reason to change city code regarding adult entertainment and if the city provides enough sites for adult businesses, he said.

Mr. Edinger said he anticipates a summer trial date.

X-Mart has been embroiled in legal battles against the city of Augusta for several years.

Most recently, in October, attorneys for X-Mart requested the injunction to prohibit the enforcement of an April 2003 ordinance that prevented the shop from opening.

Located near the intersection of Molly Pond Road and Gordon Highway, the business was denied an adult entertainment license in 2002 after the commission changed city licensing laws to keep such businesses from opening along "gateway corridors," or highly visible parts of the city.

But a series of legal proceedings and administrative mistakes continued to open and close X-Mart in a yo-yo fashion.

In a federal lawsuit, Judge Bowen ruled the ordinance change invalid, allowing X-Mart to open Jan. 20, 2003. The commission filed an appeal with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, and in November the court ruled in the city's favor.

The commission revoked the store's license in December, but one month later, the city's Department of License and Inspection sent X-Mart a 2004 tax bill. X-Mart paid the bill and received a license, but the city soon rectified its mistake.

Mayor Bob Young called the recent ruling good news but said the litigation probably isn't over yet.

"We anticipate they will exercise their right to appeal," Mr. Young said. "These folks don't give up easily."

Reach Kate Lewis at (706) 823-3215 or kate.lewis@augustachronicle.com.