City Hall

Federal Court Sides With City of Dallas Exxxotica Ban

Exxxotica will not be coming back to Dallas — at least for the time being. U.S. District Court Judge Sidney Fitzwater ruled Thursday morning that the umbrella organization for the adult expo banned by the Dallas City Council in February, Three Expo events, did not prove at a hearing that it was likely to beat the city of Dallas after a full trial, and turned down Three Expo's request for a temporary injunction that would've required the city to schedule Exxxotica for May 20-22.

"Plaintiff Three Expo Events, L.L.C. —a promoter of adult-content conventions—moves for a preliminary injunction compelling defendant City of Dallas, Texas to contract with Three Expo a second time for use of the City’s Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center to hold a three-day adult entertainment expo called “Exxxotica.” Concluding that Three Expo has at most shown that the Convention Center is a limited public forum, and that the City has established that its decision to decline to contract with Three Expo a second time was both reasonable and viewpoint neutral, the court denies the motion," Fitzwater wrote, highlighting the relevant bits of his opinion.

We're still waiting on comments from the players in the lawsuit — we'll update this space when we get them — but the basic takeaways are as follows:

1. Fitzwater agreed with the city that the convention center is not a traditional or designated public forum. Instead, he ruled that the hall is a limited public forum; a commercial enterprise that the city can rent out in whatever way it deems to be in the best interest of the city.

2. The city likely had a right, according to the judge, to refuse to enter into a contract with Three Expo because Exxxotica 2015 did not abide by the agreement between the city and the expo. The alleged lewd acts that occurred at last year's show mean that the city should not "be ordered to enter a new contract with the plaintiff," Fitzwater writes.

"On this record, the City has proved that its posited justifications for refusing to enter into a contract with Three Expo for Exxxotica in 2016 were reasonable in light of the purpose to be served by the Convention Center," Fitzwater opines.

3. Finally, Fitzwater says that the city's resolution does not amount to a viewpoint restriction. Whatever council members may have said before they voted for the ban, the resolution that actually bans Exxxotica is neutral, according to Fitzwater.

"Essentially, Three Expo’s counsel asserted that, in refusing to contract with Three Expo, the City Council was motivated by a desire to suppress Three Expo’s point of view that (1) sexually explicit materials are good, (2) people should be exposed to seminars and healthy talks about human sexuality, (3) one should have a positive view of human sexuality, and (4) people have a right to have an access to sexually explicit materials and sexually explicit entertainment. But Three Expo has failed to present any evidence that is sufficient to rebut the City’s showing that it declined to contract with Three Expo based on beliefs about the expected content of the Exxxotica expo rather than opposition to any of these four viewpoints," Fitzwater writes.

Fitzwater's ruling does not mean that the case is over. It just means that Exxxotica is not set to receive any relief from the court prior to its going to trial. J Handy, Exxxotica's founder, said Monday that Three Expo needed to get on the convention center schedule this week if it was to pull off a May convention. That won't be happening, but the legal fight goes on.

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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young