Foto

Robert Kraft: Prosecution says it 'cannot delay the release' of video

Criminal Circuit Judge Joseph Marx issued a temporary protective order Wednesday that will keep the video footage in the Robert Kraft sex spa case temporarily under seal. Marx's order will be in effect at least through an April 29 hearing. His ruling was prompted by filings earlier in the day in which the prosecution threatened to publicly release the video and the defense alleged ''prosecutorial misconduct.'' Attorneys for the New England Patriots owner could seek the solicitation charges be dismissed after prosecutors unexpectedly maneuvered to publicly release video footage captured inside the Florida spa, according to a court filing Wednesday. The Palm Beach State Attorney's office made an intent of notice motion that stated they “cannot delay the release" of the footage absent a court order under Florida open-records law. Kraft’s legal team wrote in a Wednesday filing that it could "seek dismissal on the State's "prosecutorial misconduct" after prosecutors appeared to allow for the public release of the footage. "I will take your unresponsive response as an admission of your deliberate disregard of what you represented to Judge (Leonard) Hanser and Judge Marx on Friday," William Burck, one of Kraft's attorneys, wrote in an email to the Palm Beach County State Attorney on Wednesday. The email exchange, filed in court records, came after the motion made by prosecutors in the cases of Hua Zhang and Lei Wang, managers of the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter. Both face multiple charges relating to their alleged roles in running a prostitution operation. Kraft pleaded not guilty to two misdemeanor solicitation charges and asked for a jury trial. Even without the protective order, it remained highly unlikely any of the footage will be released without a judge's approval, former assistant U.S. Attorney David Weinstein told USA TODAY Sports. "What prosecutors did was put the decision squarely on the judge," said Weinstein, a partner at Hinshaw & Culbertson. "We already knew that there's no longer an ongoing investigation by law enforcement, so that exemption under the law is gone. It's now going to be up to a judge to determine if releasing the video to the press outweighs the harm it would do to the defense of Kraft and the others charged." During Kraft’s hearing Friday, Assistant State Attorney Greg Kridos told Judge Hanser that prosecutors did not intend to release the footage without judicial approval. “I can promise the court that nothing is being released until you issue an order,” Kridos said. Kridos noted that Kraft’s case is different from the one involving Zhang and Wang. Their cases are presided over by the same circuit court judge – which is a level above the court where Kraft's case is housed – and it would be that judge who likely would be the one who will decide if and when the videos would become public, Weinstein said. “Unfortunately, by today threatening to release the video without awaiting further order of this court, the prosecution has made clear that its ‘honorable position’ was, in actuality, just their latest ruse,” ” Jack Goldberger, one of Kraft’s attorneys, wrote in an emergency motion to intervene. “Releasing the videos now would flout both Judge Hasner’s and this court’s authority, adding to a pattern of prosecutorial misconduct that is nothing short of appalling.” The State Attorney did not immediately respond to an inquiry by USA TODAY Sports on Wednesday on how soon the video could become public. On Friday, the judge in Kraft’s case delayed a decision on efforts by media organizations - including USA TODAY - to release the footage because "defendants are not entitled to shield records from public scrutiny in this case of significant concern." The judge overseeing the Zhang and Wang cases has not ruled on whether to release the footage – which could contain footage of the 25 men charged in the prostitution sting as well as innocent customers in the spa during the five-day surveillance operation. Follow A.J. Perez on Twitter @byajperez