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Defending rogue cops in criminal court

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Photo from website of U.S. District Court (W.D. Mi.).

On the one hand, I believe strongly in providing an aggressive defense to everyone suspected of a crime. On the other hand, rogue cops who commit crimes shielded by their badges certainly would present a challenge to my resolve to defend anybody accused of a crime, although I would do it anyway. For one thing, how often do I know that my client is culpable of the alleged crime? Moreover, if a lawyer wants only to represent only angels, s/he either should stick to drunk driving, drug possession and other minor accusations, or switch to trusts and estates.

Enter former Metropolitan Transit Authority police officer Darren Way, who was convicted of forcing sex with a sex worker through the continuously visible display of his badge and uniform, having allegedly refused to pay as he was departing, saying that payment would justify a solicitation arrest:

"After they had sex, when [sex worker] Vincent brought up money, appellant told her, ‘there is something you need to know about D.C. One, if I am in uniform and I give you money after we had sex, it is solicitation. And then he said welcome to D.C.’ Vincent was afraid that now that a police officer knew that she was prostituting, that he could ‘at any time . . . just come and take advantage of the situation.’" Way v. U.S., ___ F.3d ___ (Sept. 9, 2009; published Nov. 5, 2009, with updates).

Sex workers are as entitled as everyone else to not be victimized by non-consensual sex, whether the consent is for romantic reasons, pleasure reasons, commercial reasons, or any other reasons. Would sex worker Vincent have provided paid-for services had Mr. Way asked? That was her choice. If Way had asked and if Ms. Vincent had agreed, then misdemeanor solicitation of prostitution is the worst that Mr. Way would have faced, in this day and age where adult prostitution should be legalized.  

Mr. Way lost his appeal — and his way — whereby the appellate court found the evidence sufficient to convict. Way . Jon Katz