Kraft will not be tried for soliciting prostitution
Florida prosecutors on Thursday announced they were dropping misdemeanor charges against Kraft for soliciting prostitution, after a court ruled that the video evidence against him could not be used. The case raises legal issues about privacy rights and policing at a time when police conduct is coming under increased scrutiny. But it is also feeding into an ongoing national dialogue about policing and privilege – who is held accountable and who can escape culpability for their actions.
The South Florida Sun Sentinel said Florida State Attorney Dave Aronberg appeared “angry and defiant” in a Zoom session with reporters, and took shots at Kraft’s wealth. “Individuals with significant means have the ability to hire the best lawyers and investigators to dissect every decision point made by law enforcement to find a weak spot and then exploit it to achieve an acquittal or a dismissal,” Aronberg said, explicitly calling out “economic inequities” in the justice system.
The case against Kraft hinged on a video that allegedly showed Kraft paying for a sex act at a Florida day spa in January 2019. Twenty-four other men were also charged with solicitation of prostitution.
But lower court judges, then a Florida Appeals Court, ruled that video evidence of the men must be thrown out because it was obtained improperly by the police.
Kraft’s attorneys argued in court that no effort was made to minimize the surveillance and only focus on the alleged crime, as is required by federal law, and the judges agreed.
The Palm Beach Post notes that Florida authorities used similar surveillance in a 2014 prostitution sting in Boca Raton. “No one in the 2014 Boca Raton case challenged the authority of the sneak-and-peek warrant, possibly because none of the defendants had Robert Kraft’s deep pockets,” the Palm Beach Post wrote. “Kraft, 77, is reportedly worth $6 billion and has hired a group of high-profile attorneys to fight the charges.”
Of course, the fact that Kraft hired high-priced lawyers to defend him does not mean the legal ruling was wrong. But in a time when the role of racial and economic privilege in the justice system is getting a second and third look, the question is, as Boston Globe columnist Joan Vennochi put it, “whether the three-judge panel would have reached [the same conclusion] if the case didn’t involve the privacy rights of a rich, white man who owns a football team.”
Gov. Charlie Baker rebukes President Trump, calling his refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power “appalling and outrageous.”
Baker denies “bullying” school districts with his repeated calls for in-person learning if the community is low-risk for COVID-19.
Monica Tibbits-Nutt, the vice chair of the T’s Fiscal and Management Control Board, tweets that she was “deeply disappointed” with a CommonWealth story with the headline “T targets white, wealthier riders with service cuts.”
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FROM AROUND THE WEB
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The Boston Planning and Development Agency, after seven hours of testimony and deliberation, unanimously approves the development of a new neighborhood at the site of the Suffolk Downs race track in East Boston. (WBUR)
A Beverly school committee member resigns and walks out of a meeting, citing a lack of professionalism and respect by the board as they deliberate how to reopen schools. (The Salem News)
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New survey data show support for the Black Lives Matter movement has slipped. (Boston Globe)
Joyce Ferriabough Bolling says there was no justice for Breonna Taylor or her family in this week’s actions by a Kentucky grand jury not to charge any police officers in her death. (Boston Herald)
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Quincy Public Schools started offering in-person learning this summer to students with disabilities and special needs, earning the praise of Gov. Charlie Baker yesterday. (Patriot Ledger)
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gives the green light for the Weymouth compressor station to open. (WBUR)
Water systems will be required to test for and remove PFAS chemicals from drinking water supplies under new state rules. (The Salem News)
Voters in Essex will decide on the ballot whether to place a six-month moratorium on the installation of new cell towers. (Gloucester Daily Times)
New data show Massachusetts residents have the second highest utility bills in the country. (MassLive)
In a Supreme Judicial Court ruling issued yesterday — the last decision authored by Chief Justice Ralph Gants before his death earlier this month — the court said it is proper for judges to probe allegations of racial bias among jurors. (Boston Globe)
The Springfield NAACP is calling for the removal of Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood, saying she is unable to turn the troubled department around. (MassLive)
NPR explores the ethics of not disclosing the close personal friendship between court reporter Nina Totenberg and the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (NPR)Poynter analyses the reaction of the TV networks to the verdict in the Breonna Taylor case and concludes the coverage was strikingly similar from CNN to Fox News.