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"Cook County Sheriff Sues Craigslist for Erotic Services Category":
Eric Goldman has the complaint and legal analysis over at the Technology & Marketing Law Blog.
Angus:
Stupid is as stupid does. A total waste of time and taxpayer dollars.
3.5.2009 6:01pm
pmorem (mail):
Crook County politicians attempting shut down the (more respectable) competition. Also known as "political grandstanding".
3.5.2009 6:47pm
PeterWimsey (mail):
Given the suggestion on Goldman's blog that the CL postings actually make it cheaper to arrest persons committing these offenses, the sheriff's department is taking the exactly wrong approach.

They should encourage CL to offer additional categories such as "Stolen Merchandise" and "Illicit Drugs" so that persons who commit these crimes could likewise be efficiently caught.
3.5.2009 7:16pm
ohwilleke:
Goldman's suggestion that an enforcement cost of $700 a case is low seems implausible to me. The legal system costs of a low level felony for the prosecutor, public defender and judge combined is something under $70 per case on average, and far fewer prostitution cases are meaingfully litigated.

A typical prostitution arrest is quick, and often involved dozens of suspects in a single sting operation with a decoy john or a decoy prostitute, who is really a law enforcement officer. I suspect that we are talking about half an hour to an hour of time for two cops, another half an hour for one cop at booking, and frequently one day of incarceration (followed by a guilty plea with a fine and time served sentence). If it cost $40 an hour for labor for the cop, and $100 for the incarceration costs per day, One is talking something like $240 of enforcement cost per case, and probably less than $300 once legal costs for this petty offense are figured in. But, that has to be netted against the fines and court costs paid by the defendant who pleaded guilty.

Realistically, prostitution arrests are normally close to break even operations for law enforcement economically.

Also, since the time of the police has to be paid by the city whether or not arrests are made, and a surprisingly small part of a cop's job is to arrest people (the average cop arrests only about one person a week), it isn't obvious that any additional costs result from prostitution arrests -- maybe some gas money and a little overtime.
3.5.2009 7:40pm
ArthurKirkland:
Perhaps this sheriff -- and the lawyer(s) who contributed legal talent to this endeavor -- should next target The Wall Street Journal and Investors Business Daily, whose pages have facilitated fraud, waste and assorted misconducts amounting to tens of billions of dollars, with taxpayers handed the bill.
3.5.2009 9:27pm
arbitraryaardvark (mail) (www):
Are there grounds for a counter-claim, perhaps something free-speech related?
3.5.2009 9:29pm
ArthurKirkland:
The sheriff and his lawyers sought, let alone expected, scrutiny of the complaint. This makes the poor writing particularly striking.
3.5.2009 9:40pm
Ricardo (mail):
Craigslist has a very pragmatic justification for its erotic services section: it helps keep these ads off of other categories. CL also has a lot of self-policing by allowing users to flag inappropriate ads but with a category devoted to erotic services, advertisers have less of an incentive to cross-post in places where people will be less interested in their "services."

So if this lawsuit wins, wouldn't the next step be to sue craigslist for not removing erotic services advertising quickly enough from other categories? The erotic services category at least helps to segregate these ads from the rest and if it helps the police investigate pimps and escort services, doesn't everyone win?

By the way, has there ever been a successful lawsuit against phone book publishers for carrying ads from "escort services" and "massage parlors"?
3.5.2009 9:44pm
Jeffery W Wilson (www):
"Plaintiff Demands Trial By Jury."

Is it safe to presume that craigslist will file a motion for summary judgement? If craigslist wins, will Cook County be on the hook for legal fees?
3.5.2009 10:11pm
Sean O'Hara (mail) (www):
Are "erotic services" necessarily prostitution? Couldn't the category include strippers, photographers and film-makers seeking models, pornography sales, and other perfectly legal services?

Besides, don't City Papers and the like carry ads for escort agencies -- paid ads, unlike Craigslist which lets anyone put up a listing for free.
3.5.2009 10:24pm
neurodoc:
A family member is head of security for a group of hotels. He told me a few years ago that while he still had plenty to occupy him in his job, prostitution is much less of a concern than it has been in the past for hotel dicks. Now, those who provide these services and those who purchase them make their arrangements unobtrusively by means of the Internet, so no soliciting in the lobby or bar, no pimps lurking, less frequent "eruptions," etc. Though perhaps not from the Cook County sheriff's perspective, but from the hotels' perspective this Internet way of doing this business is a good thing, and their security personnel can devote more of their time and attention to the various other issues with which hotels must deal.
3.5.2009 11:18pm
David Schwartz (mail):
Why does your 1040 form have a line for "embezzled or other illegal income"? Certainly that serves no purpose other than to insulate people from some of the harms of their crimes since reporting and paying taxes on illegal income means you can't get charged with the additional crime of not paying taxes on your illegal income. It also makes it easy for law enforcement to catch people try to report their illegal income.
3.5.2009 11:52pm
neurodoc:
David Schwartz: Why does your 1040 form have a line for "embezzled or other illegal income"? Certainly that serves no purpose other than to insulate people from some of the harms of their crimes since reporting and paying taxes on illegal income means you can't get charged with the additional crime of not paying taxes on your illegal income. It also makes it easy for law enforcement to catch people try to report their illegal income.
Wouldn't it be legally impermissible for the IRS or other law enforcement agency to use such a forced declaration to discover and prosecute wrongdoing other than underpayment of taxes?
3.6.2009 12:02am
whit:

Are "erotic services" necessarily prostitution? Couldn't the category include strippers, photographers and film-makers seeking models, pornography sales, and other perfectly legal services?



yes. and fwiw, i once heard a great way to deal with a potential prostitute who might actually be a female cop.

just tell them you will pay them for NUDE modeling, but that you would like to see a little up front.

it is illegal to pay for sex (in most jurisdictions). it is NOT illegal to pay a woman to strip for you. furthermore, no female cop is going to flash you boob ANYWAY, and if they do, you still haven't solicited PROSTITUTION, just modeling.

i saw this on the (i have to admit it) Manswers show, but it seems spot on advice.

not that i'd advise people to solicit prostitutes for sex, using nude modeling as a ruse to eliminate police action against you.

solicit them for nude modeling!
3.6.2009 12:49am
Ricardo (mail):
it is illegal to pay for sex (in most jurisdictions). it is NOT illegal to pay a woman to strip for you. furthermore, no female cop is going to flash you boob ANYWAY, and if they do, you still haven't solicited PROSTITUTION, just modeling.

On the other hand, I've heard it's common practice in some shady "massage parlors" for the prostitutes there to wait until the client is naked before offering sex. The idea being that an undercover cop is not going to strip down just to make an arrest. Except some of them not only strip but also proceed to actually have sex with prostitutes before arresting them -- and then testify about it in open court with the blessing of the department and local DA. Something tells me that's not an unpopular undercover assignment.
3.6.2009 1:45am
Visitor Again:
What an utter waste of money, arresting and prosecuting prostitutes and their clients. The police talk about secondary effects--abusive pimps, robberies of johns, drug use, neighborhood nuisance, etc. But all that is the result of criminalization of prostitution. What they ought to focus on is underage girls and boys engaged in prostitution--and then only to protect the children by punishing those who abuse them.
3.6.2009 2:38am
PatHMV (mail) (www):
Ricardo, in New Orleans the rumors about nasty vice cops abound. My friends in law enforcement there have told me stories about cops shaking down prostitutes for hand-jobs, only to arrest them AFTER "completion." And they actually will put it down in their official report, exactly what happened. I'm told also that they (and their DEA buddies) have the BEST parties in town...
3.6.2009 11:02am
whit:
new orleans is routinely accepted to be one of the most corrupt agencies around.

when you pay cops less than a barista makes in seattle, what do you expect?
3.6.2009 1:04pm
David Schwartz (mail):
Wouldn't it be legally impermissible for the IRS or other law enforcement agency to use such a forced declaration to discover and prosecute wrongdoing other than underpayment of taxes?
You would think so, but you would be wrong. The last high-profile attempt at an argument like that was by Leona Helmsley, if my memory serves me correctly.
3.6.2009 3:26pm
whit:

You would think so, but you would be wrong. The last high-profile attempt at an argument like that was by Leona Helmsley, if my memory serves me correctly.



right. but the admission in and of itself would be nowhere near enough to charge, let alone convict.

assume you made 20k this year from prostitution.

and you declared 20k in prostitution income.

your mere admission wouldn't be enough to prosecute you for prostitution.

but yes, it would give law enforcement a reason to investigate you FOR that crime.
3.6.2009 4:28pm

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