I’ve pretty much given up on trying to predict what will go on in a courtroom these days. When last we checked in on New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft’s hooker trial in Florida, his attorneys had convinced a judge to block the public release of a police surveillance video allegedly showing Kraft engaged in some “activity” with a prostitute and paying her in cash. Their next task (and one that seemed far more difficult) was to convince the judge to throw out the video entirely so it couldn’t be used against him at trial.
I conceded at the time that Kraft’s legal team was good. But are they really that good? Looks like they are because the judge has now agreed to permanently suppress the footage. (Boston Globe)
Robert Kraft scored a major legal victory Monday when a Florida judge suppressed video evidence that allegedly shows the New England Patriots owner paying for sex acts inside a spa, substantially weakening the government’s case.
In a 10-page ruling in Palm Beach County, Judge Leonard Hanser sided with Kraft’s lawyers, who had argued the warrant Jupiter, Fla., police obtained to secretly install cameras inside the Orchids of Asia Day Spa was flawed.
“Defendant’s motion to suppress is granted and all evidence obtained against defendant through and in connection with the search warrant is suppressed,” Hanser wrote.
At this point, State Attorney Dave Aronberg is reportedly debating whether he will appeal the ruling, continue trying to prosecute the case or drop the charges entirely.
It sounds like they have very little in the way of additional evidence. They didn’t send anyone in undercover (as would usually happen in a prostitution sting) and it’s unlikely the owners or employees will be testifying against Kraft and the 24 other men who were caught up in this. If they had done that they would at least have some testimony to offer in front of the jury. But if the prosecutor was relying entirely on the video to make his case and it’s now gone up in smoke, what evidence will they have to offer?
This entire mess has tossed the case up in the air because detectives suspected there was human trafficking going on at the spa, rather than just garden variety prostitution. And since the judge agreed that the initial warrant was issued under a faulty premise, all of the evidence obtained as a result of that warrant is inadmissible.
I have to confess to being somewhat stunned. When this story first broke it sounded like the state had an open and shut case in front of them. I was seriously questioning what Kraft and his lawyers were thinking when they decided to fight the charges rather than just copping to a misdemeanor. But it goes to show that if you have enough money you can buy one heck of a lot of justice for yourself. Kraft may wind up simply walking away free without ever facing a jury. And it will only cost him a few million dollars in legal fees to do it.