Tyler County District Attorney Lucas Babin lost his appeal in extraordinary fashion when Justice Willett, who earned a reputation as a Texas judge who can write really, really well, took the time to write a classic opinion. In a noted appellate opinion in late December 2023, Justice Willett released a judicial smackdown involving a controversial law. But lying just beneath the surface lies an even more dramatic Texas twist.
What happened with the Netflix case in Tyler County, Texas?
When the Tyler District Attorney (DA) indicted Netflix over its Cuties series, lots of eyebrows were raised. The law that the District Attorney used in its indictment was one that we had written about earlier and expressed deep concerns about its First Amendment violations, among other problems.
The law (Possession or Promotion of Lewd Visual Material Depicting Child) targets “lewd” visual images of children, including fully clothed children, but doesn’t bother in an attempt to describe what lewd images might actually be. So sixteen year olds could get indicted for sharing bikini pictures on Snapchat if the DA thought they were lewd.
In a terrific twist, it turns out that the Tyler District Attorney that took the case is none other than former actor Lucas Babin, noted for, among other acting credits, starring in the cast of MTV’s “Undressed” which examined the diverse sexual relationships involving sexual orientations and fetishes of college students and high schoolers…
So Tyler County DA Lucas Babin stars in an MTV series about fetishes of high schoolers, then decides to prosecute Netflix for Promotion of Lewd Visual Material Depicting Child. You can’t make this stuff up.
A lower court forced Babin to dismiss the case, and he ducked his tail between his legs. He dismissed the original case and had his office adopt a “policy precluding any Tyler County prosecution under” the controversial law “unless and until constitutional concerns, including those raised by Netflix, are resolved.” Netflix sought and successfully obtained a preliminary injunction against Babin and his prosecution. Babin appealed, and lost. Justice Willett wrote the final opinion, and in doing so, helped expose and confirm the hypocrisy of the former actor.
Read the opinion here!