Monday, March 10, 2008
Four individuals had a criminal complaint filed against them. Two were charged with a conspiracy to violate federal laws related to prostitution. The other two face charges of prostitution and money laundering. (See NYTImes here) Enter client 9 - an individual unnamed in the charges. The details of the D.C. meeting involving client 9, and how the woman meeting him was to arrive are outlined in the NYTimes here. Some of the questions that are likely to be explored in the upcoming days are:
- Did Spitzer violate the Mann Act? The Mann Act, 18 U.S.C. Sec. 2421, provides: "[w]hoever knowingly transports any individual in interstate or foreign commerce, or in any Territory or Possession of the United States, with intent that such individual engage in prostitution, or in any sexual activity for which any person can be charged with a criminal offense, or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned..." Even if this did amount to a technical violation, one has to seriously question whether consensual acts warrant prosecution.
- Will Spitzer need to be a witness in the case against the four individuals charged with conspiracy, prostitution, and money laundering? Will he be given immunity? In the federal system this would be "use" immunity as opposed to "transactional immunity," which means that anything he said or derived from what he said could not be used against him.
- Was it really necessary to include all of these acts in the charging instrument? Prosecutors, obviously, knew who they were dealing with in this case. But, on the other hand, did fairness require this to happen - should any one person be protected here more than others?
From a purely punishment perspective, and irrespective of Spitzer having any criminal culpability, it seems obvious that a "shaming" has occurred here. Even if there was some criminal culpability, should taxpayer's dollars be spent on investigating and prosecuting this man. The higher the office holder, the longer the fall from power, and in this case it is pretty hard ground that Spitzer is landing upon.