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Prosecutors admit “sneak and peek” warrants in Kraft case were flawed

Privacy has become a pivotal issue in the Robert Kraft case. If the case is dismissed, how will the NFL handle the Patriots owner?

The prosecution of Patriots owner Robert Kraft -- or, more accurately, his aggressive effort to challenge it -- has brought to light troubling police practices regarding so-called “sneak and peek” warrants aimed at gathering evidence of prostitution in Florida massage parlors. It has become clear via the various legal skirmishes that law enforcement failed to take steps to protect the privacy rights of people who were simply getting massages, and nothing more.

It has become clear in part because prosecutors have now admitted it, in open court.

We all agree they were not minimized properly,” assistant state attorney Greg Kridos said Monday in the case against the two women charged with prostitution as a result of surveillance efforts at the Orchids of Asia day spa in Jupiter, Florida. “Judge, I’ll be the first to tell you, we should have done it differently. . . . To those people, we obviously apologize. That should not have happened.”

Kridos made the concession, which surely will boost the class action filed on behalf of persons who were recorded while receiving massages, in support of the idea that the violations of individual privacy flowing from the secret recording of clearly innocent people should not protect those who were allegedly engaged in wrongdoing. The presiding judge disagreed, as multiple other judges in Florida have done.

The fight now shifts to the Fourth District Court of Appeal, in West Palm Beach. Regardless of the ruling, the issue undoubtedly will be headed to the Florida Supreme Court. Which means that the Kraft prosecution will linger for as long as it takes to pursue the matter through the two levels of the appellate court system in Florida. Ultimately, the losing side in the Florida Supreme Court could attempt to throw a Hail Mary pass to the U.S. Supreme Court, which would cause the matter to linger even longer.

Here’s what it all means, as a practical matter, for Kraft and the NFL: Because no action can be taken against Kraft under the Personal Conduct Policy until the criminal case ends, the league will take no action until the appeals are fully pursued and resolved.