D.C. Madam Gets New Lawyer

Deborah Jeane Palfry, the accused D.C. Madam has a new lawyer: Preston Burton, a partner in the Washington office of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe.

Burton was appointed by the Judge after Palfrey complained she and her initial court-appointed lawyer, A.J. Kramer, didn't see eye to eye.

Palfry is eligible for a court-appointed lawyer because the Government seized her assets, leaving her without funds with which to retain counsel.

So what about her civil lawyer Blair Montgomery Sibley, and his less than brilliant strategy to leak her client roster to ABC News and plan on issuing subpoenas to clients in the hope they would say their escorts didn't provide sex?

U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler said she does not recognize Sibley, a controversial and flamboyant figure in the civil case Palfrey has filed against former escorts, as a legal party in Palfrey's criminal defense. Last week, the judge barred him from entering the well of the court to sit with his client.

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    brilliant legal strategy (none / 0) (#1)
    by smiley on Tue May 08, 2007 at 10:54:10 AM EST
    You don't like slipping the phone records to ABC?  I think it was about the best thing they could have done, short of publishing the entire list on the internet.  

    They can't possibly think that any of these guys will help her with their testimony.  That's a transparent cover story.  She's trying to force the government to drop the prosecution by embarrasing powerful men in the government by revealing their pay-for-sex habits to the general public.  Whether or not it works, she has already performed a great service to the public.  If it turns out that she's blackmailing the right sort of people, it might even get the charges against her dropped.

    And it's working.  If Palfrey had not given her records to ABC, Randall Tobias would still be using your tax dollars to pay for his hookers.  If Dusty Foggo wasn't already indicted over the Abramoff / Wilkes / Cunningham fiasco, you can be sure that he would be forced to resign over this, becuase I would bet a thousand dollars that one of the numbers on Palfrey's list belongs to Dusty.  And I'm sure there are hundreds of other lickspittle apparatchiks just like Tobias and Foggo who are still working in the Bush administration, dilligently undermining basic human rights, treating women like property, trying to foist their twisted religiousity on an unwilling population.  Palfrey's list gives me some small hope that all of these hypocritical bastards are afraid to answer the phone because it might be ABC news.  

    This is how it should be!  Government should be afraid of the people, not the other way around.  It's too bad that it takes a sex scandal for the proper state of affairs to reassert itself.  Perhaps if the loyal bushies had felt a modicum of fear of punishment for not doing their jobs right in the first place, we wouldn't be in this mess.

    Listen: it doesn't matter how these people are brought down.  Everyone who is a Bush appointee deserves to have the remainder of their lives ruined by whatever means possible.  Anyone like Palfrey (and her lawyer) who takes positive steps towards that end deserves commendation.

    you may be reading HER correctly: (none / 0) (#3)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue May 08, 2007 at 11:30:21 AM EST
    "They can't possibly think that any of these guys will help her with their testimony.  That's a transparent cover story.  She's trying to force the government to drop the prosecution by embarrasing powerful men in the government by revealing their pay-for-sex habits to the general public."

     But, that still is an idiotic strategy. Let's start with the obvious. Once you deliver the records to independent 3rd parties you know longer have ability to use the "threat" of disclosure as leverage. The 3rd parties are no more or less likely to disclose and embaraass anyone dependent on the actions of the prosecution.  if the "powerful peole" are going to get revealed anyway then the government has no reason not to prosecute even if we assume it has any interest in protecting these people.

      Secondly, the prosecution CHOSE to seek an indictment. That is an assertion that it believes it has a meritorious case or otherwise a serious ethical violation. Dropping charges after a PUBLIC threat to expose powerful people would reek of wrongdoing. It would be more likely that such tactics would make the government MORE adamant about seeking a bad outcome for her than less.

       While I think it's a dubious tactic no matter how employed, the only conceivable way to do it is to PRIVATELY convey the threat before you have delivered the records to 3rd parties.


    one of today's papers, noting her new (none / 0) (#2)
    by scribe on Tue May 08, 2007 at 11:20:41 AM EST
    attorney, also noted that she is alleged to have claimed to have given copies of the phone records to some bloggers, whom she expects to be more journalistically aggressive than ABC's Ross and his bad case of cold feet.

    We'll see.

    decon (none / 0) (#4)
    by cpinva on Tue May 08, 2007 at 05:53:10 PM EST
    let's start with the even more obvious: just because she gave copies of the phone records to a 3rd party, doesn't mean she can't expose the owner's of those numbers in public herself. so much for abc's sniveling response.

    you act like we didn't just finish up the duke case, wherein a duly elected prosecutor did exactly that: brought, with no tangible evidence, a malicious prosecution, against 3 people subsequently totally exonerated. duhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    this case never goes to trial. if the gov't actually had a meritorious case, ms. palfrey would be plea bargaining as we speak. you'll note she isn't.

    THINK! (none / 0) (#5)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue May 08, 2007 at 06:26:38 PM EST
      If the argument is she wishes to use her knowledge of the identities of some johns to extort concessions from the government, then she damn well better make sure that knowledge is exclusive to her.

      If I threaten your wife about your affair unless you give me money, how stupid do you have to be to give me the money when I tell you I've already given the information to others who can tell her even if you pay me.


    What's the legal standard? (none / 0) (#6)
    by biggrat on Wed May 09, 2007 at 02:24:51 PM EST
    The names and numbers may play a real role in her defense.  She sent the women out as escorts.  If they engage in sex for pay without her approval, she's not a "madame" is she?  That's where the book of names comes into play.  Can't she call them as witnesses that will say that in their dealings with her, she did not offer sexual services in return for payment?

    And if her "independent contractors" engage in activities outside those she has authorized, doesn't that get her off the hook?  

    If the standard is that the women took money for sex and she was their employer and therefore culpable, what does that do to any company with a secretary or junior vice-president that hooks on the side?  

    Thank you.

    there is no question (none / 0) (#7)
    by Deconstructionist on Wed May 09, 2007 at 02:57:31 PM EST
    She can call them as witnesses and use the subpoena powers of the court to compel their attendance.

    THEORETICALLY, she might be able to subpoena some guys to testify:
    a: there was no sex at all;

    b: there was sex but it was, in the view of the witness,  not a quid pro quo for the escort fee; (Perhaps some of thse guys just believe they are so good lookng and charming the escorts just couldn't resist a little gratis nookie. That does make one wonder then why the guys needed escorts in the first place. If they can charm women into bed so easily why couldn't they get someone simply to be with them socially without paying?)

    c: That there was sex for money  but as they understood it they paid the agency for the social engagement and then the escort mader her own private deal for sex.

      The risk of that is multiple. That whole perjury deal might make some guys nervous about being too cute in their testimony. On cross-examination, if any of the witnesses had multiple engagements with the agency provided escorts and they routinely involved sex some suspisious minds might consider that probative in an inculpatory sense.

      Beyond the embarassment, there is likely a local ordinance or state statute against solicitng prosecutes everywhere these encounters took place. That's not a huge deal in legal terms but many people might decide the 5th Amendment should be used. that's only applicable if the witness believes in good faith that his testimony would tend to incriminate him. That necessarily requires the existence of something the witness believes might be illegal.

      The johns are not subject to federal prosecution because there is no federal soliciting statute but the District and Virginia and Maryland all have them. As a practical matter since federal courts can't grant immunity from state charges any immunity would have to be voluntarily assented to by the locals. It's not hard to think the locals might be more willing to agree to forego the guys who are agin her and not gor her.

      Finally, while the reasonable surmises  of the johns based on what they observed first hand might be admitted over a "specuulation" objection, even if a john testified HE thought his sex for cash deal was exclusively between the him and hooker, we know the prosecution has hookers ready to testify otherwise.

     And. to the surprise of many of you, jurors aren't generally so stupid and naive as toi believe things that are ontrary to all they knew about the world before they walked into the courtroom and sound like total BS. Men paying women to visit them in hotel rooms is going to be tough to sell as merely $300 worth of pleasant conversation.



    'Course There's a Question (none / 0) (#8)
    by biggrat on Wed May 09, 2007 at 03:12:53 PM EST
    "jurors aren't generally so stupid and naive as toi believe things that are ontrary to all they knew about the world before they walked into the courtroom and sound like total BS"

    You're saying that the legal side of it doesn't matter, that "everyone knows she's a madam".

    The Innocence Project has freed a lot of people that "everyone" knew were guily of what they were charged with.  "All they know about the world" isn't always right.

    Your post is one of the most speculative pieces I've seen in a long time.  You've got straw dogs and red herrings all over the place.

    But I asked about the legal side of it.  I'm hoping for an answer.


    no, i'm not saying that at all (none / 0) (#9)
    by Deconstructionist on Wed May 09, 2007 at 03:24:26 PM EST
      I'm saying the likelihood of the jurors ignoring all the EVIDENCE that she is a madam, including scores of her own written missives, the testimony of prosecution witnesses that she arranged for them to have sex for money and took a cut of the money, a documented paper trail and so on is very unlikely to be defeated by her presenting a defense that sounds like pure fantasy to anyone over 10.

      This has no even remote relationship to the innocence project cases. There is no question of her identity or that she was responsible for operating the business. The only question is what services were provided by the business.

       In the innocence project cases we know a crime took place and the question was who did it. Here we know who did it and the only question is whether it was a crime.  anyone who can't see how tough this case is going to be for the defense simply has no common sense let alone no legal knowledge.

    Your post (none / 0) (#10)
    by biggrat on Wed May 09, 2007 at 04:07:54 PM EST
    assumes that all this "evidence" is available and credible.  That's one of the straw men you set up. You are assuming the truth and accuracy of the prosecution statements.  Why have a trial at all, if that's how we are going to run things?

    Saying "The only question is what services were provided by the business." was the point of my post, which you apparently missed.  If the "madam" was not selling sex, there's no crime, no matter what the escort did on their own. As an example, I used secretaries who hook on the side.  

    I referenced the Innocence Project because it provides examples of what happens when "everyone knows", but the plain truth is that we don't know a crime has been committed.  What we know is that there is an allegation of crime.  

    If you have legal knowledge to share, please do so instead of telling me I don't have any common sense.  

    Just because the police say it's so don't make it so.  See The Innocence Project.  


    No I assume (none / 0) (#11)
    by Deconstructionist on Wed May 09, 2007 at 04:25:05 PM EST
    it's admissibility and recognize its obvious probative value to support the argument thar SHE WAS SELLING SEX. That's not a straw man the government has disclosed to her that it has bank records, phone records, witnesses who will testify she hired them to work as prostitutes which they did under her direction AND memos she wrote describing, albeit some slight degree less incriminating than here is how to give a BJ after he pays you for it, how to conduct the business.

      The first thing that any remotely competent attorney must do is understand the other side's evidence and the inferences likely to be drawn from it. If you walk into a courtroom believing the other side has no case when it is obvious they have a strong case then you are a walking disaster as a lawyer. This is hardly a complex case. Anyone who can't grasp the likely persuasiveness of the government's case in this matter has no common sense. I'm sorry if that insults you but that's the way it is.

    I didn't say (none / 0) (#12)
    by biggrat on Thu May 10, 2007 at 08:10:38 AM EST
    the prosecutor set up a straw man.  I said that you did.  I also said you're taking their word for the accuracy and credibility of that case and assuming a jury will do the same.

    There are issues of fact to take before a judge and maybe a jury. Just because the prosecutor says a crime has taken place does not make it true. We have trials for a reason, and you seem perfectly willing to ignore that reason.  I'm surprised you want to bother with trials at all; it seems that you would be satisfied to simply take the prosecutors word for it that someone is guilty.  

    I asked a direct question that you don't seem to have any answer to beyond telling me how good the prosecution case is and telling me I don't have any common sense.  

    I don't see any point in continuing the discussion.


    son (none / 0) (#13)
    by Deconstructionist on Thu May 10, 2007 at 09:23:30 AM EST
     I'm  A CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY. I don't take prosecutor's words for anything but i understand the concept of EVIDENCE. i don't need the prosecutor to tell me the import of the evidence because i know enough to figure it out for myself. You don't and you also lack sufficient common sense to understand it when it is explained to you I explained to the reality of this situation based on what the evidence is and how it will employed at trial. I'm not saying that she has no chance of winning or that i assume the prossecution's witnesses are credible. i'm saying it is obvious that the case against her is a strong one and that the tactic she is employing will do little to help her.

      If you do in fact have "specific questions" rather than silly ranting. Feel free to ask them.