The Montgomery County Council yesterday agreed to consider proposed emergency ordinance, backed by the state's attorney, that would make it a misdemeanor for any person to sell or distribute obscene materials in Montgomery County.
State's Attorney Andrew L. Sonner suggested the adoption of the emergency legislation, which would be effective until July 1, 1978, because a key parts of the current Maryland statute that prohibits the selling of obscene materials was declared unconstitutional by the Maryland Court of appeals last month.
"I could get the dirtiest books in the county and sell them to 12-year-olds right now and that would not be against the law, said county attorney Frank Lacey.
The law had been declared unconstitutional because it exempted employees of pornographic movie theaters from prosecution for selling or distributing obscene materials while not giving similar exemptions to employees of bookstores who might sell identical items.
Without the power to arrest and question employees of such bookstores, said Sonner, "we can't find out who their bosses are," hampering efforts to prosecute offenders.
Sonner said that, because authorities have no real enforcement powers now in the wake of the court's ruling, county residents faced the prospect of finding "all bookstores (in the county) carrying pornographic materials, and lots of peep shows."
Sonner said the bill he hoped the Council would approve would serve as an interim county measure until the state legislature was able to draft and adopt a new state bill on obscene materials that would be acceptable to the courts.
Some Council members said they had problems with Sonner's bill.
"The bill prohibits the distribution of obscene material, but it doesn't define what it is," said Council member Norman Christeller, who abstained from the vote on whether the Council should consider the bill.
"The county will now attempt to do in a few days what the Supreme Court has not been able to do in a 100 years," said Council President Elizabeth Scull, "That is: define obscenity."
"There are a lot of people who are willing to go into the market and buy these materials, said Sonner, who denied the Council would have to define what constitutes obscenity.
Nertheless the Council asked its staff and the county attorney to draft three amendments for consideration, one of which would define "obscene". The others were to deal with whether the state's attorney could prosecute people charged under the county law and whether anyone should specifically be exempted from prosecution.