A federal judge spared an embarrassing appearance on the witness stand for Sen. David Vitter in a prostitution case when she abruptly canceled a hearing scheduled for next week.
The Louisiana Republican was under subpoena to testify about his ties to a Washington escort service. Deborah Palfrey, the so-called D.C. Madam. Palfrey wanted question Vitter about whether he paid for sex.U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler canceled the hearing Wednesday, saying it served no purpose in the criminal case. Kessler said that she was convinced Palfrey was just trying to game the judicial system.
Kessler is no political hack. However, it is hard not to see the relevance of the demand for Vitter’s testimony. Palfrey is trying to establish that any money transactions were arrangements between the women and their clients — and did not involve Palfrey or occur with her direction. Judges are increasingly interjecting themselves into these evidentiary decisions and pruning criminal defense cases. It may be true that defense counsel was calling Vitter for the sensational aspect, but he may also have had a perfectly valid purpose. If Vitter was (as it seems) a former client, he has direct knowledge of these transactions.
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