Sunday, October 29, 2006

A Few Notes: A New Legal Theory For Collection of Fees & Prostitution Stings Bring a Call For Reform

Some interesting reading this week in the NY Law Journal:

I. Law Firm Can Sue In Fraud To Collect Treble Damages In A Failure To Pay Fee Case

In an issue that has become near and dear to my own heart, I am happy to hear about the decision in Chadborne Parke v. Bowen. Evidentially, even big firms like Chadbourne Parke get clients that will "gladly pay us Tuesday for a Hamburger today,". Bowen kept promising payment but never intended to pay. His bill topped $300k before Chadbourne partners had enough.

They sued in Fraud and the judge agreed to let the suit go beyond summary judgment. Seems Bowen worked for a deadbeat named Holt. Holt hired Chadbourne and then told them to deal with Bowen who kept stringing them along. If Chadbourne is successful, they could collect 3x what they are owed from Holt through suing Bowen who acted as his agent. Now clearly these are exceptional circumstances. Or are they? How often does a family member string you along on a case so that you won't drop it promising a check any day? No this is not that strange a situation. Happens all the time actually. We should see if Chadbourne wins its case and get their money, we might see more of this type of case to recover from a deep pocket.

II. Suffolk County New York is Cracking Down on Prostitution.

I saw this article when perusing the net the other day. Seems Suffolk and Nassau got some money from the Federal Fisc to go after prostitution to hopefully undermine the sex slave trade out of the far east. On the first day they arrested 21 people who allegedly worked and owned alleged massage parlors. All were Asian as reported in Newsday. On the next day, Suffolk went after 25 Johns. Well at least it doesn't seem to be sex neutral enforcement. It used to drive me nuts when I was at legal aid and representing street walkers that the "John" was never so much as arrested as long as he gave information v. The girl and agreed to come to a trial which never took place as the girls couldn't wait to hit the streets again.

A streetwalking problem and an incall house working in a residential area are problems to the neighborhood. That said, these types of raids are a waste of effort and taxpayers money.

A solution might be a red light district with licensing of houses of prostitution or of the prostitutes themselves. Anyone not getting a license would face a civil rather than a criminal penalty. Getting to the women and making sure that they are safe should be a number one concern. These "providers" need a number of social services that they cannot or do not know how to get. At the Asian massage parlors there is a concern about sex slavery, not so with so called escorts who work out of their consumers hotels. There the problem is more often robbery of the john. Licensing would curb that issue quickly. In the incall situation a district put aside somewhere in an industrial area with curfews and proper police surveillance could infact aid police in controlling crime, through license plate checks, observation and tips earned by knowing and seeing the providers of these services regularly.

The Tax ramifications could in fact offset if not eradicate any cost associated with the proposal. Of course the problem is that the political culture of areas that practice this proposal would have to be such that people could in fact decide their fates for themselves. Policing ethics and morals has never worked in the United States, but there are arguments for trying anyway. From a criminal defense standpoint however the sex trade will never be wiped out, and present criminal enforcement only punishes those most in need of help, and marginalizes them as well. Basically it victimizes the victim. Maybe the answer lies in legalization or at least decriminalization. Our present "solution" is only making matters worse at a great cost, to both the community and the accused.

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