Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Spitzer Agrees to Resign

Spitzer agrees to resign over his ties to a prostitution ring.

When I first saw this story, I thought he was being nailed for participation in the money side of the ring. The guy is already Governor of NY, but money is a universal motivator. "So what?" I thought. "He got greedy and got caught."

But the story is much stranger than that. It's being reported that Spitzer met with a high-dollar prostitute in a DC hotel. Why would he pay for sex? He's in a position of power, there HAVE to be other women who want to sleep with him for free. Of course, adultery wouldn't make the situation any more morally acceptable than prostitution. I'm just talking about whether or not his decision was rational.

When I voiced this opinion to my friend Gloria, she reminded me that the prostitute was likely under a contract that would bind her to keeping silent about the affair for the rest of her life. Most likely, Spitzer didn't pay for the sex -- he paid for discretion.

I'm sure a good lawyer could turn that into an argument and get Spitzer off (in more than one way).


stupid young lawyer said...

I’ve got to disagree with you as to three points. First, as to your reaction to the situation as you initially understood it, although money is a powerful incentive even to those who have more than they’ll ever need, the relatively small amounts he’d stand to derive from participation wouldn’t justify the risk posed. The guy’s dad is worth ~$500 million, he’s obviously a politician, rather than a businessman, so it’s a rational assumption that his self worth is based on political successes, as opposed to financial.

Second, a charge of prostitution is much more unacceptable in his situation than adultery would be. Not only did he break his marriage vows, which were made to the his wife and the public (removing it from the realm of purely private matters), he knowingly broke the laws he was sworn to uphold. Much more reprehensible; I’d be willing to bet he’d keep his job if the situation was ltd to adultery.

Finally, your third paragraph is shaky at best. There’s no doubt that there’s a contract involved in every instance of prostitution. But where are you going to find support for the idea that subjective intentions can override outward manifestations where a significant no. of one of the party’s past course of dealings involve an exchange of money for sex? Such an argument would undermine the credibility of the lawyer and defendant irreparably. In any case, it’s na├»ve to think a jury might believe the payment was for anything other than sex, especially where the parties have no prior relationship in any other context. When you consider that (1) any such contract would be void ab initio on public policy grounds, and (2) as a former NY AG, it would be impossible for him deny knowledge of that, it becomes close to impossible to even set forth that kind of argument. I’m no criminal attorney, but I’ll venture to say that you’ll never beat a solicitation rap by claiming the defendant really desired some sort of tangential service.

As for ATL, IMHO, I think you should use the opportunity to engage in legal analysis. The criticism is harsh, but you’ll get an honest barometer you can learn from.

G said...

I didn't mean an actual contract. I meant that it was more likely that a high-priced hooker would value discretion (as a professional matter) than the power-hungry or fame-seeking women who swarm politicians like Louboutins on sale. If Lewinsky was doing it for the dolla dolla bills (y'all), she might have kept her fat mouth shut.


Sharon said...

You're right, I extended the logic to a contract. With that kind of place, I'm sure they had some kind of contract.

stupid young lawyer said...

OK, I definitely agree with Gloria's comment. Silence is (I would assume) crucial to any high priced hooker's success. I don't get your comment, Sharon . . . .