Opening arguments are expected to start today in the Lacey/Larkin trial, with the prosecution throwing low blows and the defense fending off the feds' dirty tricks.
Update 9/4/2021: As I Tweeted yesterday after court, the defense unanimously moved for mistrial after federal prosecutor Reggie Jones gave an inflammatory and prejudicial opening statement to the jury. Jones essentially accused the defendants of crimes committed by others, with which the defendants are not charged and had nothing to do with; i.e., child sex trafficking. He also introduced evidence that should be excluded, defense attorneys said. Court recessed a little after 4 p.m. on Friday, with the defense not giving its opening statement. Parties will submit briefs to the judge, who said she would study the issue over the long weekend. Court reconvenes on Wed., Sep. 8.
Update 9:50am: Have just heard that Kevin Rapp may not be giving opening arguments. Might be one of the other lawyers. Maybe DOJ trial attorney Reggie Jones. Will post updates on Twitter @stephenlemons.
Today’s main event is scheduled for the Sandra Day O’Connor U.S. Courthouse in downtown Phoenix, as opening arguments get underway in the trial of award-winning newspapermen, Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin.
Lacey and Larkin are charged with up to 100 counts related to facilitating misdemeanor state prostitution offenses in violation of the U.S. Travel Act, including attendant money laundering and conspiracy charges.
The federal government seeks to hold them responsible for the criminal conduct of users of the Craigslist-like classified ads site, Backpage.com, which they owned from 2004 to 2015.
Ironically, of the 50 ads posted by users that are mentioned in the indictment, well over half were posted after Lacey and Larkin sold the company to the prosecution’s star witness, Carl Ferrer.
Look for the prosecution to fight dirty, as always, with the opening statement likely to be given by lead federal prosecutor Kevin Rapp, known for his self-righteousness and mudslinging. (See update above.)
The prosecution will attempt to link Lacey, Larkin and their four co-defendants to heinous acts committed by others that they have absolutely nothing to do with and are not relevant to the actual charges.
For a backgrounder on the trial, please check out the Reason magazine documentary on the case, “The Rise and Fall of Backpage,” and please see a statement released earlier this week by Lacey and Larkin and follow this author’s coverage of the trial on Twitter at @stephenlemons.