Protection says prosecutors hid proof in Backpage trial

After a 10-week battle between federal prosecutors and protection
attorneys, the trial in opposition to former homeowners and operators of Backpage.com
is lastly nearing its conclusion. 

Attorneys representing these accused of facilitating prostitution and cash laundering
by their involvement within the now-defunct categorised promoting
web site targeted their closing arguments much less on the proof introduced
to the jury and extra on what the federal government elected notto share.

Bruce
Feder, representing former Backpage govt vice chairman Scott
Spear, in contrast the prosecution to “The Wizard of Oz,” and himself to
Toto, “pulling again the curtain” to disclose what the federal government didn’t
need the jury to see. 

“You’ve been misled,” he informed the jury Tuesday morning. “All the proof has not been introduced.”

Feder pointed to an exhibit first launched by the federal government: a letter
from the Nationwide Middle for Lacking and Exploited Kids accusing
Backpage of selling intercourse trafficking and asking its homeowners to close the
web site down. 

However prosecutors erred in coming into the exhibit, unintentionally together with a 15-page response from Backpage lawyer Don Moon. The response makes direct reference to protections supposedly given to Backpage by Part 230
of the Communications Decency Act, in addition to a number of examples of
prior litigation wherein Backpage was discovered with out legal responsibility for
both the advertisements on the location or the actions of advertisers and clients
exterior of it. 

“He talked about why (Backpage) is protected by the First Modification,” Feder informed the jury. 

U.S.
District Decide Diane Humetewa, a Barack Obama appointee, has already
dominated in opposition to admitting proof referencing these subjects. 

Paul Cambria, representing former Backpage proprietor Michael Lacey, first introduced up the response letter in his closing argument
Friday, to the shock of each Humetewa and prosecutor Kevin Rapp, who
had simply completed his personal closing. However Cambria didn’t point out Part
230 or prior litigation, as Humetewa reduce him off early, asking him not
to waste time studying your entire doc. 

Rapp requested Humetewa
Tuesday morning to strike the response letter from proof with a purpose to
stay constant along with her earlier rulings. Humetewa declined.

“The federal government has had a number of years to excellent these reveals,” she mentioned. “This one bought by.”

Humetewa
saved the exhibit in proof, however didn’t enable attorneys to debate
Part 230 or prior litigation. Each Feder and Cambria urged the jury
to learn the response in its entirety. 

Gary Lincenberg,
representing former Backpage chief monetary officer John Brunst, mentioned
the federal government failed to attach his consumer to any of the charged
counts. 

Prosecutors confirmed proof of fifty funds comprised of
Backpage to a mess of abroad holding companies and once more again
to the homeowners. However no connection was made between any of the grownup advertisements
and any of the wire funds, he mentioned.

“They’re not hid,” Lincenberg added.

Each Lincenberg and Feder insisted that the federal government didn’t show that any of the 50 charged advertisements within the indictment have been unlawful on their face,
not to mention whether or not any of the defendants even noticed these 50 advertisements out of
the lots of of hundreds of advertisements posted on the location every day for extra
than a decade. 

Lincenberg acknowledged that prostitution occurred on the location however mentioned that Brunst did his finest to average it.

“Just one witness mentioned something unhealthy about Mr. Brunst,” he mentioned, referencing former CEO Carl Ferrer, who testified in opposition to defendants as a part of his plea deal. “And that man is a liar.” 

He
spent a bit of his two-hour closing argument working by examples
of Ferrer’s testimony contradicting previous statements he’s made in regards to the
firm

Feder mentioned each Ferrer and Dan Hyer, a former gross sales
supervisor who additionally testified for the federal government in return for a lenient
sentence, have been “singing for his or her supper.” 

The closing argument as to former Backpage operations supervisor Andrew Padilla was easy.

“His intent was to not do something aside from his job,” David Eisenberg mentioned on Padilla’s behalf. 

Eisenberg
informed the jury that Padilla merely moderated posts — all the time by eradicating
content material, by no means including — in accordance with instructions from his bosses.
He didn’t interact in aggregation of posts or recruitment of any
advertisers, Eisenberg mentioned. Padilla even requested his superiors for extra
funding for the moderation division to raised do his job. 

Joye
Bertrand, representing Padilla’s assistant Pleasure Vaught, will give her
closing argument tomorrow. After prosecutors are given an opportunity for
rebuttal, Humetewa will learn last directions to the jury and place
the fates of the 5 defendants in its fingers.