Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network. To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 492 3000.

Recent MA Homicides, Robberies And Deadly Police Chases Make Renewed Pressure On Prostitution And Craigslist Timely

As expected, criminal justice history repeats itself in Massachusetts and its neighboring states. As discussed in earlier blogs, we have a new “Craigslist Robber” and our original “Craigslist Killer” has made the news again by robbing the Commonwealth of another high profile trial. He killed himself. As also discussed, armed robbery suspects are evading investigating officers, police officers are running over pedestrians and failing at picking them back up and even the heroic efforts of law enforcement politicians and our legislature’s efforts to stem the unstemmable tide of bullying has been called into question.

And that’s only over the past week or so! This can be embarrassing for our law enforcement leaders.

Fortunately, we have a solution.

Let’s crack down on the real plague to society…prostitution…and put some extremely public pressure on that damned Craigslist!

What? You think I’m kidding? Look, I’m kind of a creative sort, but I don’t think even I could make this stuff up.

A couple of days ago, in Hartford, Conn., 17 attorneys general very publically sent a joint letter to Craigslist demanding that it remove its adult services section altogether because the website has apparently failed to adequately block potentially illegal ads promoting prostitution.

“Only Craigslist has the power to stop these ads before they are even published,” Kansas attorney general Steve Six said in a statement. “Sadly, they are completely unwilling to do so.”

Now, of course, this joint letter acknowledges that Craigslist faces the prospect of losing revenue if it were to remove the adult services section. But then, again, it’s not like this is a bad economic climate! There’re plenty of jobs out there and money to pay new employees with, right?

On the other hand, “No amount of money, however, can justify the scourge of illegal prostitution and the suffering of the women and children who will continue to be victimized, in the market and trafficking provided by Craigslist,” the letter said.

And I’ll bet you thought I was exaggerating in my sarcasm in the past when I used the word “scourge”.

Meanwhile, Craigslist says it supports the efforts to stop “illegal exploitation”, spokeswoman Susan MacTavish Best said in a statement that did not indicate whether the website plans to get rid of its adult services section.

“We hope to work closely with them, as we are with experts at nonprofits and in law enforcement, to prevent misuse of our site in facilitation of trafficking,” she said.

But, it would seem, law enforcement politicians’ patience regarding the scourge is running out.

As they point out, “Some encounters set up through Craigslist have ended in violence and even death.” They continued with the fact that, “Last week, a former medical student accused of killing a masseuse he met through Craigslist committed suicide in the Boston jail where he was awaiting trial.”

If that’s not proof of culpability on the part of Craigslist and sex workers, I do not know what is!

There is no report of a movement to close down city streets in Chelsea after an innocent pedestrian was run down by a police officer on his way to help a neighboring police force engaged in a foot chase.

By the way, was the name of that officer released yet….?

But, I digress with comparatively unimportant matters.

Fortunately, as it did with its championship-level anti-bullying legislation, Massachusetts stands out in the blaming and attacking of Craigslist.

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley released a separate letter Tuesday that was sent to Craigslist officials saying basically the same thing. However, she added the crucial advice that “You should continue to build on your success in connecting users to each other and providing a forum for the exchange of legal goods and services.”

Kinda makes you proud to be in the Bay State, doesn’t it?.

Attorney Sam’s Take:

I know what you are thinking.

” ‘Attorney Sam’s Take’? Wasn’t that whole thing an Attorney Sam’s Take, complete with dripping sarcasm?”

Well, maybe. However, there is a point yet to be made which effect you.

First of all, be aware that logic does not dictate the mindset of politicians and that Attorney Generals are politicians. Unfortunately, such politicians, along with their counter-parts in the legislature, are what create both the laws as well as the pressure on police officers in their priorities in enforcement.

Once upon a time, we purportedly wanted prostitutes off the streets. Police tried to get them off the streets, but it was a never-ending battle. Now, many prostitutes have moved off the city streets and onto the internet highway. One would imagine that this would be heralded as a move toward making city streets “safer and cleaner”.

The problem is that there remain tougher problems out there which are embarrassing to both law enforcement and their political leaders. And so it becomes even more important to choose targets which are easier to criticize and make pretty headlines that sound good…so long as the public does not really think about it.

So far, the public hasn’t really thought about it.

So it works.

“So, Sam, how does that effect me?”

Because should you ever be involved, or seem to be involved in something that is related to one of these easy targets, your life-style and liberty are in danger.

Let’s say you are somewhere that has a prostitution sting. You are arrested. You may have your day in court months later, but in the meantime, the police will release your name, address and probably photograph as being engaged in the sex trade.

That is, unless you are a police officer perhaps. Authorities don’t seem to like to release the identity of that kind of person when investigated for doing what most of the rest of us would be arrested for. (See Monday’s blog)

Maybe you will be found not guilty down the road…but in the meantime, your family and career are likely derailed. If you had been on probation at the time, you may find yourself behind bars for violating the terms of that probation by being arrested.

So, the bottom line here is that you must view any pending investigation or actual arrest very seriously. Logic does not apply here. You may be held in custody and lose your family and employment while being “presumed innocent.”

Taking it seriously means a variety of things including hiring experienced counsel at the first possible moment to guide you through a process that may well make very little sense to you.
Should you wish to consult with me in a free initial consultation in such a matter, please feel free to give me a call at 617-492-3000 .

TOMORROW: Law Enforcement And Me

To view the original story upon which today’s blog was based, please go to http://www.boston.com/news/local/connecticut/articles/2010/08/24/state_ags_craigslist_should_drop_adult_services_1282669692/

Contact Information