Robert Kraft is trying—again—to get the video evidence from his solicitation case kept out of the public record. On Tuesday, his lawyers submitted a motion asking a Palm Beach County judge to permanently prohibit any Florida agency from releasing video that, according to police documents, shows him getting a hand job. Kraft faces two counts of misdemeanor solicitation after he was one of about two dozen men charged in a Jupiter police investigation into possible prostitution at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa earlier this year. Kraft has pleaded not guilty.
Kraft previously asked for the video to be sealed, and County Judge Leonard Hanser ruled that it should not be released at least until the case is resolved or a jury is seated; the judge wrote that his concern was Kraft’s right to a fair trial, in which the video could be key evidence. Hanser did reject Kraft’s lawyers’ arguments that the video violated Kraft’s right to privacy and that it wasn’t a public record.
Since then, Kraft’s lawyers have gotten that video evidence tossed from his criminal proceedings. They argued—and Hanser agreed—that cops did not sufficiently minimize surveillance inside the massage rooms, especially of innocent people, which meant the evidence had to be suppressed. Evidence from a subsequent traffic stop of the car in which Kraft was a passenger also was suppressed. Without either of those, there’s already speculation that the charges against Kraft will be dropped.
Which leads to the latest argument from Kraft’s team: Because the videos were “illegally obtained,” per the motion, the public has no right to see them:
Now that the Court has concluded that the Videos were illegally obtained and subject to suppression, it follows that the public has no right to access these materials—which materials never should have never come into existence in the first place. As such, the Court has ‘good cause’ under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure to modify the scope of the Protective Order for the sake of dispelling any doubt that State is permanently prohibited from releasing the same Videos that it had no legal basis to obtain, much less to retain and release.
The motion goes on to say that the videos must be sealed immediately because otherwise the state attorney’s office can drop the case (which Kraft wants) and then release the video to the media outlets that have requested it (which Kraft really doesn’t want).
Kraft’s wealth always meant the criminal charges would have little to no impact on his daily life. What mattered to him was the embarrassment that would stem from the public seeing a video of him with a sex worker. His lawyers says releasing the video would “enable the media to serve as an illicit instrument of law enforcement by putting wrongfully obtained materials to their most damaging possible use in the public arena, thereby doing damage far surpassing any possible misdemeanor conviction.”
The lawyers go on to say that allowing the video to be released would “incentivize” law enforcement to conduct more illegal searches.
Will Hanser agree? A good chunk of the case law cited in the motion is federal case law, because there’s no specific exemption in Florida law for suppressed evidence. And Hanser noted in his previous decision that Florida’s public record laws strongly favor openness, writing at the time that a previous ruling from the Florida Supreme Court limited his actions to “no further than the circumstances warranted.”
The full motion is below.