CHICAGO Attorney J.D. Obenberger, who represented a rainbow of adult industry clients for the past three decades, has passed away. Obenberger was 66. A former federal prosecutor, Obenberger led a successful Chicago-based legal practice, along with attorney Reed Lee, that focused on First Amendment rights and served content producers, gentlemens clubs and website owners. Known as Joe to clients and friends, Obenberger was an active member of the First Amendment Lawyer’s Association and the Free Speech Coalition. Obenberger spoke regularly to adult entertainment business members at various trade conferences in the U.S. and abroad on a host of nuts-and-bolts topics designed for them to successfully run their businesses, including how to dodge obscenity prosecutions and what to know about record-keeping requirements. One of his last cases involved ongoing litigation over Chicagos Admiral Theatre, which sought a $407,000 PPP loan application covering 42 employees as the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered nonessential businesses across Illinois. The gentlemens club, closed since March 15, was rejected for a federal loan and Obenberger filed a suit on behalf of the venue. That case, according to court records, has yet to reach a federal judge and is pending. Obenberger notably became on the adult entertainment industrys radar after he successfully litigated the Mike Jones criminal obscenity case in 2000. Jones, who ran Illinois-based L&M Enterprises, was accused by authorities of producing and distributing content involving underage performers after a pediatrician reviewed pictures from Jones’ website of “people who look like children.” Jones, however, was exonerated of all charges after Obenberger was able to convince the court the Jones content was not of underage individuals performing sex. Obenberger, on his XXXLaw.com website, said he was proud of working to protect clients like Jones at every step of government attack, from intervention during the execution of a federal search warrant through the entire process, from charges to trial. As an advocate for clients involved in the adult industry, I know that as I defend them, it will be with both feet planted firmly in the traditions, constitution, laws, and history of a free people, Obenbergers website says. The narrow, fringe, dogmatic zealotry of our opponents will be exposed for what it is. Come what may, we shall together assure that the people who came to these shores in the hope of freedom will remain free. In the 2008 book American Unzipped by Brian Alexander, Obenberger was described as possibly the most vociferous champion of the adult industry in the U.S. Obenberger also was an author, penning Pleasureboating on the River Rubicon and published in hardcover by the Thompson-West Publishing Co. in its 2007 anthology, Online Pornography. In addition, he wrote numerous articles with a legal focus for various adult trade publications. A former army officer, Obenberger was elected municipal alderman twice and mayor pro tem once. He also was elected Republican committeeman three times in two states and taught college courses. Obenberger, born in Milwaukee and graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School, had numerous passions outside of the law office, including gourmet cooking, photography, gardening and short-wave radio. The cause of his death, which occurred Saturday, was unknown at post time.
written by: Rhett Pardon