Judge Biggers entered an opinion dismissing the prosecution against Judge Dr. Weiner. There’s a lot of news at the level of put-the-cards-on-the-table; he talks about the ways that the Mann Act was used against unpopular political targets (Jack Johnson, Charlie Chaplin). And then there’s this, explaining the prosecution in terms that do not reflect well on the Government:
The court is aware from arguments and briefs submitted to the court that Dr. Weiner has acted as a strong advocate for quality healthcare in Clarksdale and the surrounding area. As part of this advocacy, Dr. Weiner has been an outspoken critic of the health care organization which manages the local hospital there – a publicly-held company which Dr. Weiner holds responsible for various deficiencies in the provision of healthcare at the hospital. As a result of his criticism, Dr. Weiner is apparently not in good favor with that company as evidenced by statements such as that made by an agent of the company, a former hospital administrator in Clarksdale, who defense counsel advise allegedly stated prior to Dr. Weiner’s arrest that the corporation was “going to get Dr. Weiner out of there even if it had to do it in handcuffs” (or words to that effect). An e-mail from this same administrator reveals his reaction to the arrest of Dr. Weiner. When advised that Dr. Weiner’s office computer was searched, that the search revealed that Dr. Weiner communicated with persons he thought were women visiting the SugarDaddyForMe website, and that information was taken which, inter alia, led to the indictment herein, the administrator responded in an e-mail, “Alright!!!!!!” The court is also advised that another official in this management company with whom Dr. Weiner has had numerous conflicts is a retired veteran of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The court is further advised that SugarDaddyForMe.com receives thousands of hits a day; yet, according to the information from defense counsel herein, the government has prosecuted not one other individual besides Dr. Weiner for an alleged Mann Act violation accomplished via this website.
The order also describes the “conduct” that lead to the prosecution:
Transcripts of Dr. Weiner’s communications with “Wild Ginger” and “Mary” reveal that these “women” played the role of inducers more than Dr. Weiner did. Dr. Weiner made unequivocal statements to the undercover agents posing as Mary and Ginger that he was not interested in a “hooker” and was then informed and persuaded that the women were not hookers. For instance, during one e-mail exchange, Wild Ginger inquired of Dr. Weiner, “What’s in it for me?” Dr. Weiner responded that there is a “major difference between a sugar baby and a hooker” and that he was no longer interested in her in light of her “crass” inquiry. He stated, “I will pass . . . the talents you are promoting are ubiquitous.” After some effort, Ginger subsequently convinced Dr. Weiner that she was not a hooker and informed him that she wished to travel from Memphis, Tennessee, to Tunica, Mississippi, and she invited him to travel there to meet her. Mary informed Dr. Weiner that she would be traveling through Mississippi on her way home to Mobile, Alabama, from a Memphis business trip, and she suggested that they meet in Clarksdale, Mississippi.
… “Mary” came closest to “potential hypothetical interstate travel” when she told Dr. Weiner she would stop by and see him on her way back to Mobile from Memphis. Obviously realizing she had thereby negated the inducement element of the offense by informing Dr. Weiner that she would be crossing state lines for her own purposes, she called him back on the morning of their planned meeting and, in an apparent attempt to correct her previous error, told him she was not going to Mobile – she was returning to Memphis after their meeting – that is, she had made a “special trip” across state lines just to see him. Mary’s apparent attempt to correct her earlier negating of the inducement element was unsuccessful, however, because she called Dr. Weiner when she was already in Mississippi to tell him her plans to return to Memphis after their meeting. Dr. Weiner told her that her plans were nonsensical and never did he induce her to cross the state line. As far as he knew, she was on her way back to Mobile – a trip for her own purposes – until she called and told him, while already in Mississippi, of her plans to return to Memphis after their meeting. As for Ginger, it is uncontested that she suggested Dr. Weiner meet her in Tunica. Just as with Mary, Dr. Weiner did not induce her or attempt to induce her to cross a state line. DismiOThe agents repeatedly played the roles of inducers in the present case. Their actions were nothing less than blatant, though unsuccessful, attempts to manufacture federal jurisdiction and are reminiscent of the behavior of the agents in one of the seminal cases on manufactured jurisdiction.
The Court also repeats a hypothetical in proposed at the argument about the motion to dismiss:
The court finds this case analogous to an imagined scenario presented in open court at the oral argument hearing on this motion, to wit: a Memphis resident asks a female friend to travel to Oxford, Mississippi, in order to engage in prostitution there. In this scenario, we will imagine the residents of Memphis sitting in their living room, and one says to the other, “Well, you know, I think I’ve found a good place for us to set up our business. Let’s go down to Oxford. You’ve got all those college boys down there; they’re looking for somebody like you. They’d really be impressed by you. So let’s go down there and set up in a motel there, and we can really make some money.” The female responds, “Well, I’m not really sure I want to do that. I like it up here.” The male says, “No, let’s go down there. I want to. I want to go down there and take you down there.” He attempts back and forth to entice her to come down here to Oxford, but she says, “Well, I just don’t want to go.” The court asked the government at the November 5 hearing whether this hypothetical conversation would be a violation of the Mann Act and a federal offense subject to up to twenty years imprisonment (and in the present case would result in loss of a medical license). Specifically, the court asked the prosecutor, “Has he [the male from Memphis] committed a federal crime?” The prosecutor responded, “Under the statute, yes, Your Honor.” The court disagrees.
It’s a very interesting opinion. You can read it here.