As I piece together the details of the Deep Throat trials, the lawyers involved in this case are essential to my family’s story. After all their actions are the reason I have a story to tell. I recently contacted Brett Stein who was one of the attorneys that represented my father in the 1976 Deep Throat trial. It was easy to find him. A Google search revealed he was a practicing attorney in Memphis. I dialed the number I found and a gentleman answered, “Brett Stein’s office.”
I said, “Is Brett Stein in?”
“This is. How can I help you?” Brett said with a charming southern drawl.
I was surprised it was him. I went from slightly distracted checking emails to immediately trying to snap back in to focus. I stammered to speak and said, “Hi, you don’t know me but…um… did you represent Anthony Battista in the Deep Throat trial in 1976?” It was quiet on the other end so I just kept talking. “It was the trial with Harry Reems, the pornographic movie, do you remember? Was this your case?”
I sounded like an idiot.
“Who may I ask are you?” said Brett.
A fair question I thought.
“I’m Anthony Battista’s daughter…..Kristin Battista. I think you may have represented my dad in this trial?”
I realized I should have said my name first.
Brett responded, “Well, I’ll be…,” he said. “I just can’t believe it after all this time. I certainly remember that trial. I did represent your father. How did you find me?”
I was relieved I found the right person and he sounded friendly. I replied, “The Internet. You can find anything on the Internet these days.”
Brett asked, “Is your dad still alive?”
I chuckled and said happily, “Yes, he is still alive. He had heart surgery this year but doing well.”
We spent the next 15 minutes talking about what a kick it was, more than 30 years after this case, to get a call from me. Brett was gracious and wanted to know what my dad was up to. He was surprised he was still in the pornography business. I told him about the family memoir I am writing and we agreed to talk another time at greater length.
We spoke about eight weeks later. He eloquently described that just because this case was highly publicized didn’t make it more important than any of his other cases. He viewed all of his cases as big cases not just the ones that got media attention.
He said, “You can’t let that sort of thing [media] bother you when you are trying to do your job. I understand the media has their job to do but so do I.”
He seemed so different from the assistant US attorney, Larry Parrish that prosecuted the case. I had a stack of clips on my desk about Larry. He was known as good Christian and dedicated to getting rid of pornography. He had many monikers; the Memphis Heat, Mr. Clean and the Smut Raker and described as giving fiery speeches to juries. He was written about like a modern day John Cochran.
Brett is quite the opposite from Larry the “Memphis Heat.” He seemed unassuming and did not seek the spotlight. He was unfazed by the national media attention around this case and reflected a devotion to the cause of first amendment rights.
My dad found Brett Stein and his partner Phillip Kuhn (more on him later, I talked to him too) in the yellow pages. My father described Brett as a southern Jewish gentleman, short with red hair and he always wore his cowboy boots to court. He was a young, single guy in his thirties at the time of the trial and he and Phillip spent many more hours on the case then they charged my dad in fees.
This will be one of many conversations I’ll have with Brett. My father spoke highly of him and his partner Phillip and so far I can see why.