Robert Kraft is becoming an unlikely champion of individual rights in Florida.
The recent ruling in Kraft’s case that bars from use at trial the “sneak and peek” video generated inside a Jupiter, Florida massage parlor will boost significantly a separate legal proceeding aimed at securing justice for people who were simply getting massages — but who were nevertheless videotaped throughout the process.
Appearing Saturday morning on CNN, lawyer Joseph Tacopina explained that he represents a pending class of at least 31 “individuals who went into this massage parlor, licensed massage parlor I might add, to get legitimate massages and . . . somehow wound up being surreptitiously, illegally recorded by police in a state of undress or partial undress.”
Tacopina explained that none of the individuals who he represents are accused of any type of wrongdoing, and they were simply getting massages and ended up being recorded.
“It’s a nightmare,” Tacopina said. “It’s as if they put a camera in a bathroom and recorded people going to the bathroom. I mean, these people ranging from 40-year-old males to 75-year-old females in a state of undress getting massages. Nothing more. Legitimate massages. And wound up on a videotape that is perilously close to being put out in the public domain.”
It’s perilously close to being put out in the public domain because of an extremely broad Florida law that makes all documents and other evidence generated by law enforcement officials subject to disclosure on request. Kraft’s legal team also has been arguing aggressively that the illegal nature of the search should exempt the videos generated during the search from public disclosure.
“If this was not pushed and exposed and if it was Robert Smith not Robert Kraft we would have never known what happened here, and there were some serious invasions of privacy rights of citizens of Jupiter, Florida and serious violations of the law by law enforcement,” Tacopina said. “Robert Kraft, who I don’t represent, has done some very good things for this community.”
Kraft didn’t embark on this effort with a desire to help the community. But it should be a welcome incidental benefit to those who otherwise would have been victimized by overly intrusive police practices that remained unchallenged (possibly for years) because the police never tried to parlay those police practices into the prosecution of someone with the wherewithal and the willingness to fight.