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November 9, 2009

"Sex With Informant Voids Prostitution Case"

The title of this post is the headline from this lengthy new report from The Legal Intelligencer.  Here is how the piece starts:

In a case of first impression, the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled last week that state troopers committed "outrageous government conduct" when investigating alleged prostitution at a massage parlor in the Lehigh Valley by giving money to an undercover informant to have sex four times with two different women at the parlor.

On Thursday, the unanimous panel of Judges John T. Bender and Jack A. Panella and Senior Judge John T.J. Kelly Jr. upheld Lehigh County Common Pleas Judge Robert L. Steinberg's 2008 order dismissing charges of prostitution and promoting prostitution against defendant Sun Cha Chon.  Steinberg found the state police investigating alleged prostitution at Shiatsu Spa committed outrageous government conduct and violated Chon's constitutional rights to due process.

Though this ruling clearly hinges in part on the nature of the criminal activity which the government instigated, the notion that a criminal prosecution should be thwarted because of "outrageous government conduct" involving a confidential informant could have broad implications.  The press report indicates that the Lehigh County District Attorney's office plans to appeal the decision, and this case is worth watching if and when it gets to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

November 9, 2009 at 02:34 PM | Permalink

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