In the case of People v. Enskat (20 Cal.App.3d Supp.
1, 98 Cal.Rptr. 646 (1971)), Enskat was arrested and charged with exhibiting
obscene movies. At trial, the prosecution did not introduce the offending
movie into evidence, but instead offered a few still photos taken by police in
the movie theater, as well as testimony by people as to how dirty the movie
was. Enskat was convicted, but the Appellate Court reversed, saying that in on
obscenity case, the movie is clearly the best evidence and should be
considered a 'document' covered under the best evidence rule.
The prosecution had argued that the physical film itself
was not the issue, but instead it was the 'projection of light on the
screen' that defined the term 'exhibiting'. Therefore the film shouldn't
be considered a 'document'. However, the Appellate Court found that
argument to be unpersuasive.
In this case, the reason why the prosecution didn't have
the film was that the defendant still had it. They could have asked for
the film as part of discovery, and if the film was not produced, then that
would be a good reason for using secondary evidence, and the best
evidence rule would have been satisfied.