The State is fighting tooth and nail to ensure that their illegally conducted surveillance of the Orchids of Asia day spa can be used in a case involving two misdemeanor charges of solicitation. A county judge has already ruled that the video evidence is inadmissible, but that hasn’t stopped the state from appealing the decision.
The situation is bizarre for a number of reasons. Firstly, the State has already dumped an inordinate amount of money in pursuing very petty charges. However, the county sheriff’s department that conducted the unlawful raid has a lot to lose in terms of credibility. If the county judge’s decision is upheld, then a high-profile decision would have landed against it during which the official record would indicate that the acquisition of the surveillance was done unlawfully.
Nonetheless, it seems like they’re beating their head against a brick wall and wasting taxpayer money to do it simply so that they can secure petty convictions against a high-profile defendant. But even law enforcement must obey the law.
The State Has Not Conducted Itself Well in This Matter
After dumping the words “human trafficking” in the headlines and threatening to disclose video of Kraft and others in compromising positions at the day spa, the lone piece of evidence that they were able to acquire was tossed out of court. While many might think that this is a “technicality”, technicalities are what the law is built on. Technicalities protect citizens from the overreach of zealous authorities who are looking to get their names in the headlines at the expense of those who they are ostensibly tasked with protecting and serving.
While the appeals court accepted the request to grant the State a hearing in the matter, it’s hard to believe that they will overturn the Circuit Court judge’s decision. Essentially, if the court allows the evidence into the record, they would give the state broad discretion to break into private property, install hidden cameras, and record the goings on.
Throughout the trial, defense attorneys for Kraft maintained that the state misled the judge who issued the so-called sneak-and-peek warrant. It has also been noted that the state did not require such an invasive warrant in order to prove their case against the Orchids of Asia day spa. Police simply secured the warrant under an allegedly false pretense of human trafficking because it was easier than doing actual police work.
What Happens if the Appeals Court Overturns the Ruling?
In order for the court to overturn the ruling, the State must argue that the surveillance was conducted legally and within the bounds of the law. The sneak-and-peek warrant was authorized under the Patriot Act and allows law enforcement the ability to conduct invasive surveillance easier. However, these warrants were authorized under the guise of stopping terrorism and while human trafficking is a perhaps equally terrible crime, the state was never able to prove that any human trafficking existed. Nor was anyone ever charged with human trafficking.
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