Prostitution Cases and My First Jury Trial

“Court Case Friday”

My Case

As a new D.A. I was assigned to try a misdemeanor prostitution case. This was a “first” for me. The defendant was a female massage parlor employee who solicited money-for-sex from an undercover officer.

I was “gobsmacked” on the first day of jury trial, when Roger Diamond substituted in as the woman’s attorney. He was an A-Team criminal defense attorney. (I was just a newbie) He was the nation’s leading attorney defending these types of cases. His clients were well-to-do pimps and rich sex business owners. He had a posh office in a high rise on Sunset Blvd., in Hollywood. He allegedly never lost a trial.  I was outgunned.

After I presented my case=in-chief to the jury, I asked Roger if he was going to use an entrapment defense.  “No.  I never use that defense in this type of case.” I inquired, “What type of defense do you use?”  He smiled, “Just wait and see.”

Defense Cross-Examination

The defense went like this:

(“Def” = Defense Attorney Roger Diamond; “DA” = District Attorney (Moi))

Def:  Officer, when you were getting the massage, were you dressed?

Officer: No.

Def: Were you naked?

Officer: Yes.

Def: Completely?

Officer. Yes.

Def: Does your wife know?

DA. Objection, irrelevant!

Judge: Sustained.

Def: Officer, did you pay for the massage with your own money?

Officer: No.

Def: Were you using taxpayers’ money?

Officer: Yes.

Def: I am sure you were careful how you spent public funds?

Officer. Of course.

Def: Isn’t it true that you paid an extra $40 for the hot Hawaiian body oil?

DA: Objection, irrelevant!

Judge: Sustained.

Def: Was the masseuse dressed?

Officer: No, she was naked as well.

Def: Does your wife know?

DA: Objection, irrelevant!

Def: So, you were both naked, and you were getting massaged.  Did you have an erection?

Officer: No.

Def: Why, are you gay?

DA: Objection, irrelevant!

Judge: Sustained.

Officer: I was half erect.

(Roger Diamond paused and slowly walked in front of the jury. He raised his hand in front of his face, bent his index finger half way, and asked.)

Def: Which half?

(The jury burst out in laughter)

DA: Objection!

Judge: Sustained.

Verdict and Outcome

Diamond’s strategy was enough to convince the jury that the police investigation was absurd, and a complete waste of police time and taxpayer resources.

The jury hung, 6/6.  Since there was little chance I could ever get a conviction, I dismissed the case.

Massage Parlor Prostitution Cases

I later learned that massage parlor cases rarely resulted in a “guilty” verdict, especially if the conversation wasn’t recorded. Typically, while the officer was getting massaged, the dialogue with the prostitute lasted 30 minutes, but the officer could only remember 2 minutes of dialogue. He could just remember the “solicitation” itself, but nothing else leading up to the crime. 

Moreover, jurors often felt that the undercover officers were sometimes going too far and enjoying themselves too much. Plus, many jurors believed that these types of investigations were a complete waste of time and resources.

Police Misconduct – Case One

The three corrupting influences for law enforcement are: drugs, money, and sex.

When I was in the D.A.’s Office, there was a high publicity case where a local police department spent a huge amount of money sponsoring a catered “bachelor party” at an luxury hotel. Undercover officers played the “bachelor” and “guests.” Several stripper/prostitutes were hired to “entertain.” Expansive booze was flowing. The “bachelor” actually completed the sex act before the arrests were made.

The experienced prosecutor told the jury: “If you believe that the officers’ conduct in this case was outrageous, which is understandable, I recommend you complain to the police department. However, despite the conduct of the officers, the women involved were guilty of offering sex for money.” The jury returned a “guilty” verdict.

Police Misconduct Case Two

When I was in the D.A.’s Office, an undercover officer threatened to arrest a “street walk” unless she gave him oral sex. She complied. However, she saved his seaman in a baggie, which she used to file a complaint against the officer. He resigned from the force.

Street-Walker Prostitution Cases

Unlike massage parlor cases, street-walker cases usually resulted in convictions.  Very little conversation takes place between the officer and the “hooker.”  When the prostitute mentions money, experienced officers ask, “How much do you usually charge.”  That question nails the coffin shut.

Human Trafficking and Sex Slavery

Some people think that these types of cases should not be prosecuted at all. However, prostitution spreads sexually transmitted diseases throughout the community. Prostitution goes hand-in-hand with drug addiction and sales. Prostitutes, and their customers, are often robbed or beaten by pimps. Moreover, massage parlor prostitution frequently involves human trafficking, kidnapping, torture, and sex slavery. This is horrific and intolerable. Thankfully, special local, state, and federal prosecutors and police are now targeting these crimes. And, private organizations, like Tim Ballard’s “Operation Underground Railroad.”are also working to fight human trafficking and sex slavery.

Illegal Massage Parlor Hot Spots

(www.londonedition.net)

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