Last time we heard from New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft regarding his upcoming trial on charges of soliciting prostitutes, I found his legal team’s strategy a bit on the odd side. His lawyers entered a not guilty plea on all charges, but only after he issued a formal apology for the way he had “disappointed everyone” and let down all of the fans. That seemed like poor planning to me, but perhaps he’s playing a longer game here and sees a way out of this trap. This week his attorneys have been busy trying to get the court to throw out some of the main evidence against him. That would be some video supposedly showing him engaging in sexual activity with a prostitute and paying her. Can he do that? (Boston Globe)
Media outlets seeking access to video evidence in Robert Kraft’s prostitution case in Florida are chasing “eyeballs and clicks” for their websites by publishing footage that is “basically pornography,” a lawyer for the New England Patriots owner said Friday.
William Burck made the assertion during a hearing in Palm Beach County, where the 77-year-old billionaire faces two misdemeanor counts of soliciting prostitution at a Jupiter spa in January.
Kraft has denied engaging in illegal activity, pleaded not guilty, and requested a jury trial. Video cameras secretly installed by police, pursuant to a warrant, allegedly captured Kraft receiving sexual favors in exchange for cash inside the Orchids of Asia Day Spa on two consecutive days.
So these are two separate motions that the judge has to consider. One calls for any video held by the prosecution to be sealed and not released to the public. That one is easy enough to understand. Kraft doesn’t want the embarrassment of having such videos showing up on cable news and having the trial held in the press before they ever get to a courtroom. (And let’s be honest… do you really want to see that?)
The second part is trickier. His attorneys want the video suppressed so that prosecutors won’t be able to show it to a jury during the trial. As far as I know, claiming that a video amounts to being “basically pornography” is not grounds for striking it from evidence. Generally, when something like this is suppressed, it’s because there are questions over whether or not there was a valid reason for the activity to be legally recorded or if the person was being unfairly targeted without probable cause.
In this case, law enforcement had obtained a warrant and installed the cameras in advance, suspecting that prostitution was taking place. To the best of my knowledge, they didn’t even know Kraft would be in the vicinity before he allegedly showed up on film. It’s difficult to imagine a set of circumstances where the judge allows the video to be tossed out unless there was some problem with the initial warrant that we haven’t heard about yet. Kraft has no claim to privacy since he was in a public place of business, not his own home or office.
Of course, if his lawyers somehow succeed in blocking the video, that will significantly weaken the prosecution’s case. At that point there could be all manner of “he said, she said” arguments as to what went on inside that spa. And if that’s the case, perhaps Kraft and his team are smarter than all the rest of us. If their strategy works, this story might have a happy ending for him after all. (Oh, come on… you knew I couldn’t finish the entire article without one happy ending joke.)