Backpage Gets a Mistrial After Prosecution Goes Too Far

Backpage Gets a Mistrial After Prosecution Goes Too Far


It does mark a small victory for Backpage, if short-lived. More encouragingly, it might serve as a useful warning to prosecutors and policymakers who’ve historically lumped in various types of sex work with serious crimes.


“If you conflate the entire set of areas of work that sex work can pertain to, such as dancing, online cam work, movies, prostitution, fetishes, the whole thing … if you conflate all of that with ‘sexual exploitation’ or ‘sex trafficking,’ it means that we can not have an accurate understanding of situations where people actually are in abuse,” Penelope Saunders, who’s been observing the trial in Arizona, said in a phone interview. Saunders is the executive director of the Best Practices Policy Project, an organization devoted to providing services for communities throughout the sex trade, from consensual sex workers to victims of abuse. She says that muddling the two makes it nearly impossible to distribute limited resources tailored to needs. “You would have law enforcement and immigration authorities distracted and brought in to arrest people for no reason.”

Saunders observed that the prosecution seemed to be “phoning it in” and found their approach “scattershot,” without laying out a clear legal argument.


“I am often surprised in the courtroom how little work the prosecution has to do in cases about prostitution and sex work,” she said. “The prosecution really doesn’t have a high bar to pass.”

Lacey and Larkin, along with former Backpage employees, still have to fight 93 counts. The prosecution could have focused primarily on evidence suggesting that the group had been aware of and permitted sex work on the site.


A status hearing is scheduled for October 5.

This post has been updated to include comment from Whitney Bernstein.


Hacker Lawyer Jay Leiderman Is Dead at 50

Jay Leiderman Obituary: Lawyer to Anonymous Hackers Dead at 50

The cause of Leiderman’s death has not been declared and will likely take months to certify, the medical examiner’s office said. The Ventura Police Department had no comment. Calls to Leiderman’s law office went unanswered.

Before his work with hackers, Leiderman defended a Ventura man who’d been arrested in a drug bust, and whose cellphone an officer searched without a warrant. The California Supreme Court eventually heard the case but ruled the officer’s actions constitutional. The decision sparked a rush by state legislators to try and shield electronic devices from warrantless searches. The U.S. Supreme Court issued a contrary ruling two years later. In his majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that cellphones are “such a pervasive and insistent part of daily life” that, were aliens to visit Earth, they “might conclude they were an important feature of human anatomy.”


A life-long Deadhead and punk music fan, Leiderman successfully defended a slew of clients arrested under anti-drug laws. He once took on clients who had their kids taken away after police found marijuana hidden in their home. And he won. He was as a fierce advocate for medical marijuana patients in particular for more than a decade, writing a book on the issue in 2011 for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. In 2013, he joined other activist lawyers in founding the Whistleblower Defense League. At its launch, he accused the Justice Department and FBI of targeting political dissent with weapons of oppression, harassment, and fear.

“People are being subpoenaed, indicted, and incarcerated,” he said, “simply for exploring the truth.”


In an essay on his website, Leiderman defended lawyers who get a bad rap for taking on unpopular clients, including those charged with unspeakable crimes. The guiltier the client, he believed, the greater the need for skilled representation. “I can only state that what follows is my own brand of patriotism,” he said. “I defend those charged with crimes because it is both my duty as a lawyer, and as an American.”

Apple Accused of Retaliation After Workers Spoke Out on Pay, Harassment

Apple Accused of Retaliation After Workers Spoke Out

The complaints follow a rare burst of activism within Apple by, so far, a small number of workers. The workers organized under the hashtag #AppleToo last month with the stated aim of exposing “persistent patterns of racism, sexism, inequity, discrimination, intimidation, suppression, coercion, abuse, unfair punishment, and unchecked privilege.”


“For too long,” they said, “Apple has evaded public scrutiny.”

In a Win for Gig Workers, Uber-Backed Prop 22 Ruled Unconstitutional by California Judge

One of the downsides of the California initiative process is that it allows illegal laws to be enacted. And since corporations have First Amendment rights when “talking” about their initiative, the voters can be fed outright lies and falsehoods in order to fool them into voting for something illegal and against the interests of non-corporations (people).

Heist Team Allegedly Stole $500,000 From Drug Dealer by Using an Apple Watch as a Tracker

For anyone who hasn’t watched The Wire, the number one rule, “Don’t talk in the car, on the phone or on anything that ain’t ours, and don’t say shit to anybody who ain’t us.” Had the show been made after smart phones became ubiquitous, I’m sure the same would be applied to texting and the cloud.

I watched the doc series Heist on Netflix as well, and if any of those guys had followed this basic rule, they probably wouldn’t have been caught. I’m not even a criminal and I know to at least use only burner phones, fake accounts using untraceable proxies and VPNs.

Apple Airtags Used to Prove That Contractor Illegally Trashed Unhoused People’s Property

Airtags Show Contractor Illegally Trashed Unhoused People’s Property

The situation in Portland has become dire: On July 28, the Willamette Week reported that the family of an unhoused woman who died in 2019 was planning to sue the city, alleging that her death had been directly caused by a Rapid Response-led sweep one week earlier that had resulted in her medication being trashed.

That suit, which is also being brought by Fuller, is an attempt to compel the city of Portland to shift its policies regarding the clearing of encampments and to prove that the city has systematically and repeatedly failed to follow laws implemented to safeguard the property of the homeless.


“All we are asking is for the City to follow the laws that are already in place,” said attorney Michael Fuller told OPB in a statement. “We hope the Mayor will simply agree to the relief we’re seeking, rather than waste hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars litigating against our team of volunteer attorneys for the next year.”

Frontier Airlines Attendants Put on Paid Leave After Duct-Taping Violent Passenger to Seat

“Unfortunately, the proper policies for restraining a passenger were not followed,” Frontier told ABC in a statement. “As a result, the flight attendants involved have been suspended pending further investigation.”


However, after backlash from the Association of Flight Attendants, which represents flight attendants, as well as the video going viral on sites like Facebook and Twitter, the airline changed its tune.

“Frontier Airlines maintains the utmost value, respect, concern and support for all of our flight attendants, including those who were assaulted on this flight,” the airline told Local 10 in another statement on Tuesday. “We are supporting the needs of these team members and are working with law enforcement to fully support the prosecution of the passenger involved. The inflight crew members’ current paid leave status is in line with an event of this nature pending an investigation.”


Bizarrely, this isn’t even the first incident involving a duct-taped passenger in the past few weeks. According to the Washington Post, American Airlines staff on a flight from Dallas-Fort Worth to Charlotte in early July physically intervened to stop an emotionally disturbed woman from allegedly attempting to open the jetliner’s outer door after takeoff, subsequently using tape to force her to remain in her seat. In that incident, American Airlines told the Post in a statement that the company “[applauds] our crew for their professionalism and quick effort to protect those on board,” though the airline didn’t clarify to the paper whether the ad hoc method of restraint was permitted by its policies.

Airlines have reported dramatically increased rates of in-flight disruption during the novel coronavirus pandemic, involving everything from passengers who force jets to return to the terminal to assaults against staff. Numerous incidents have involved passengers who refuse to wear masks, which remain mandatory for persons boarding commercial flights except when they are eating or drinking.


The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released updated figures on August 1 showing 3,715 reported incidents of unruly passengers throughout 2021, with some 2,729 related to mask mandates. That’s despite zero-tolerance policies in place that the FAA has cited to slam such travelers with massive fines in the tens of thousands of dollars, on top of whatever criminal charges they may face. According to the Washington Post, while the disruptive might face immediate removal and a ban from whatever airline they were flying with, airlines don’t share information about unruly fliers and prosecutions are unwieldy affairs that can take years to reach any resolution.

Closing a case may require the involvement of “airline employees, FAA inspectors and lawyers, Transportation Department judges, local authorities, state and federal courts, FBI agents and U.S. attorneys,” the Post wrote. Prosecutors are extremely selective in which incidents to pursue, and airlines have had mixed success at seeking restitution from nuisance passengers.


A recent survey conducted by the Association of Flight Attendants found that of 5,000 flight attendants, at least 85% had dealt with an unruly passenger in the last year, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. At least 17% said they had witnessed a physical confrontation, with respondents citing masks as the most frequent cause and alcohol and flight delays following closely after.

“What we’re really seeing is an increased level of hostility on the aircraft, which is something I don’t think we’ve ever seen before in this industry,” Paul Hartshorn, a spokesman for the union, told the Post. “It’s just incredibly dangerous.”