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Naming Names as a Criminal Defense Strategy

As the Blog of the Legal Times reports, today was just another day in court for Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the madam charged with running an illegal prostitution ring that included some of the nation's most powerful men as its clients. And Palfrey's already started naming some of her clients, not as blackmail, or even in an effort to raise funds, but instead, because she claims that they have information that would exonerate Palfrey, according to this Washington Post story, Alleged Madam Says Strategy Paying Off (April 30, 2007).

Palfrey claims that she's not guilty of federal racketeering charges for running an illegal escort service because the women who provided the service -- all independent contractors -- only engaged in lawful activity such as massages, and that to the extent that the women provided extra service, they violated their contracts with Palfrey. Palfrey's claims seem plausible -- according to the article, she holds a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and studied law. Further, she'd already been arrested for running a prostitution ring in California over a decade ago and spent 18 months in jail. So presumably, she'd have taken additional caution to comply with the letter (if not the spirit or intent) of the law the second time around.

Palfrey argues that her former customers can attest that her service didn't provide illegal service. And that's the reason that she claims that she wants them identified:  so that they can testify in her defense. Of course, it probably doesn't hurt Palfrey's case that some of her clients may try to exercise their connections to make Palfrey's case go away in order to keep their names out of the public eye. 

It's hard to feel sorry for Palfrey's clients, though the judge assigned in the case seems determined to protect their identity as long as possible. After all, they must have known after Clinton's Lewinsky affair or Jessica Cutler's Washingtonienne blog that no one in Washington can keep a secret, especially when it comes to sex. 

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on April 30, 2007 at 06:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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