Washington D.C.--Just two-days-ago, Judge Gladys Kessler ruled against Deborah Jeane Palfrey's several motions to dismiss racketeering charges (which would have cancelled any chance of a criminal trial) based-on government misconduct and the unconstitutional application of local prostitution laws, as well as a request of more "particulars" in the evidence the prosecution contends it has against her.
Also denied was the contention by the defendant that she was the victim of "selective prosecution"--Kessler stated in the ruling that the defendant "provided no evidence" to this claim. Meanwhile, literally hundreds of escort services operate unmolested in the D.C. area at the writing of this piece. Palfrey's civil attorney, Montgomery Blair Sibley had this to say about the rulings:
The limited information that the Judge did order be turned over to Jeane reflects how un-level the playing field is that has been created by the DOJ-controlled Congress that passes any procedural rule DOJ suggests. Here, 11 months after seizing her property, Jeane has yet to receive the names of those who accuse her, let alone the sum and substance of their testimony. (correspondence with the author)On the same day of the ruling, it appears that the DOJ leaked a tiny-morsel for an over-credulous press to seize-on (they did this in October and December of 2006 by providing http://www.thesmokinggun.com/ affidavits and other edited-samples of e-mail correspondence). This is standard procedure at DOJ, and especially at the FBI. It could very well be their fingerprints in the case, though it appears there is no participation by the Bureau (or that it's submerged).
The prosecution isn't telling anyone anything, not even the defendant. This should concern anyone who values our system of due process, and how it has eroded over time. Now, the appearance of guilt is enough, without the prosecution being required to provide adequate proof before a trial. The fact underscores the true relevance of the case: how awry the federal judicial process has gone in-favor of the government's prosecutorial powers (never mind the phone list).
The recent e-mail(s): somebody at the DOJ leaked these heavily-edited tidbits. What's interesting is that while Jeffrey A. Taylor (D.C.'s U.S. attorney, providing obstruction for contempt charges in another high-profile case) is invoking "secrecy rules" through spokespeople when queried about the identities of Palfrey's accusers, he also allowed the leaking of information meant to damage Palfrey's standing as a defendant. This is highly improper behavior by the prosecution in any case, but that's the climate within our federal justice system, courtesy of an impaired and compromised Congress. For those in the press who don't understand, the foundation of our legal system is "innocent until proven guilty."
Yet, WTOP appears to have taken-the-bait, just as The Smoking Gun did last year. Maybe they all want to believe so badly--a priori--that Ms. Palfrey is guilty, at least at TSG. This is the primary e-mail excerpt, and it echoes the vagueness of the ones published at The Smoking Gun last year: "Why did you do this to me? I never did anything to you." Did what? WTOP alleges it was sent to the former Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld legal secretary, "Jennifer." Another excerpt--again without much solid context--continues with, "It is plain 'foolish' to take a perfectly viable revenue stream (of any kind) and just throw it away, without solid justification." And...?
One might imagine that the prosecution isn't holding many cards--just women who want their liberty back in return for testimony against Ms. Palfrey. So far, that's the appearance from outside the prosecution's tent. They might consider that their cooperating witnesses could turn-on-them if the trial goes south. [Ed.-- Ms. Palfrey informs me that the statements made by "Jennifer's" attorney that his client never engaged in prostitution "...has created a legal opportunity for me to obtain heretofore unattainable information." Perhaps WTOP's Neal Augenstein isn't buying the prosecution's line after all, he and his editor published the comment, or we wouldn't even know about it!]
As we all know, you can get a lot out one-or-two-sentences with no context...unless one wants so badly to believe the worst. That's an a priori assumption, and it could be directed at the members of the federal grand jury, the people who will do the real deciding on this whole affair. But what's especially leading about the WTOP article is the headline: "E-Mails Expose Inner Workings of Palfrey's Escort Service." Do they? They're extremely vague and short-excerpts. The bulk of the article focuses on "Jennifer." Her attorney claims that she's not being pressured by the prosecution to testify, which could be true, but it appears she could be testifying against Palfrey.
If she's not being pressured as a "cooperating witness," it would likely make her one-of-the-few in this case. What should be reported is how little the government has to prove in virtually any case against an American citizen. Jennifer's motives? She could be angry she lost her job at Akin, Gump... , but it's doubtful a credulous press will be asking those questions. Even if they do, there's always an Editor over their shoulder, which we can assume is probably where the headline came from.