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Morality Tale

You tell me when this started to sound like a bad idea.

Back in 2004, Kenneth Daniels was representing a criminal defendant, Erica French, in Hardin County, Kentucky.  Erica, it turns out, had some information of value in another case.  The prosecutor in that case, Robert Stevens, had approached her about testifying in the other case.  Erica told Daniels that the conversation with Stevens had turned decidedly "personal." 

This created some concerns for Daniels, and those concerns only deepened when Erica told him that Stevens had arranged to come to her house the next morning to review the defense lawyers' cross-examination in the other case, in order to "prepare her to testify."

Right.

Erica told Daniels that she was concerned that Stevens was going to make certain demands, and that if she didn't give in to those demands, it was going to queer the deal in her own case.  Daniels then did two things.  The first was to assure Erica that her fears weren't reasonable.  This turned out to be untrue, but, in the grand scheme of things, Daniels' advice on this point was inconsequential.

That's because the second thing he did was to install video equipment in Erica's house, including a video camera set up in a vent in her bedroom.  He then told her to make sure she didn't have sex with Stevens. 

The next day, Erica called Daniels to report about her visit from Stevens.  Turns out that she'd gotten everything on video.  But that part about making sure she didn't have sex with Stevens?  Well... 

Daniels picked up the video from Erica, headed over to Stevens' office to have a chat, and over the next few days also contacted the Attorney General's office and the Kentucky Bar Association, and provided them a copy of the tape.

For his troubles, Daniels was indicted for video voyeurism, a felony in Kentucky and, later on, for intimidation, based on the claim that he tried to use the videotape to threaten Stevens.  He wound up entering a plea and going into a five-year diversion program.  A few months back, the Kentucky Supreme Court cut him a break:  it had suspended him for five years, but decided that if he got out of the diversion program earlier than that, it would reduce his suspension as well.  As long as it wasn't reduced below three years.

And the prosecutor?  The one who'd used the power of his position to extract sex, which comes fairly close to some of the more progressive definitions of rape?  He lost his job, of course, was prosecuted for misdemeanor "official misconduct," and was given a public reprimand by the Kentucky Supreme Court.

There's a moral there somewhere.

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