Florida prosecutors on Monday asked a judge to pause the speedy trial clock in the prostitution case pending against New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, so the government has time to appeal the judge’s recent order tossing crucial video evidence in the case.
In a brief motion filed in Palm Beach County, prosecutors said they’ll be in a bind if they’re forced, pursuant to Kraft’s right to a speedy trial, to put the case on before their appeal is resolved.
“Should the Court refuse to enter a stay on its Order the State will be forced to proceed to trial without its crucial evidence before the State is able to obtain a ruling from the Appellate Court,” prosecutors wrote. “Such a result is contrary to the interests of justice as it effectively precludes any meaningful appellate review.”
Kraft’s lawyers hadn’t filed a response to the motion as of 3 p.m. Monday.
The “crucial evidence” referenced by prosecutors allegedly includes video footage of Kraft, 77, paying for sex acts inside a Jupiter, Fla., spa on consecutive days in January.
Kraft has denied engaging in criminal activity, pleaded not guilty to two misdemeanor counts of soliciting prostitution, and demanded a jury trial.
Police had obtained a warrant to install hidden cameras inside the spa that allegedly captured Kraft and 24 other men engaged in illegal sex acts, but Judge Leonard Hanser last week sided with Kraft’s lawyers and ruled that jurors can’t see the footage at trial.
While the “sneak and peek” warrant to install the cameras met several legal thresholds, it did not take the necessary precautions to protect the privacy of those receiving legitimate massages, the judge ruled.
“The fact that some totally innocent women and men had their entire lawful time spent in a massage room fully recorded and viewed intermittently by a detective monitor is unacceptable,” Hanser wrote.
In a court filling last week, prosecutors signalled they were appealing the judge’s order.
A hearing in the case scheduled for Tuesday afternoon has been cancelled, an official confirmed on Monday.
Robert Whittel, a Florida defense attorney not connected to the case, said it’s not common for prosecutors to appeal a judge’s rulings during the proceedings for misdemeanor cases.
He added, “But this case is anything but the norm.”
“The prosecutors have said ‘We’re going to treat this and him as any other defendant, but the truth is, they’re not. They’re treating it far more aggressively than your average misdemeanor prostitution solicitation case,” he said.
Whittel said he thought it was reasonably likely the judge would grant a stay while prosecutors await a decision on their appeal.