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My wife and I work together. This means I get to spend pretty much every minute of my life with her. This sometimes gets in the way because, of course, it means I have to spend so much time giving thanks to a higher power for my incredible good fortune. Other than that, it is the unalloyed blessing everyone who knows Kelly imagines it to be.[ 1] For one thing, it makes for some terrific conversation on the way to work. One recent morning, for example, we spent the entire 35 minutes talking about now-former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer and the holocaust that he now inhabits. It was a lively and candid discussion marked by the kind of perceptive sagacity and insightful, evenhanded deliberation you’ve come to expect from your courts of appeal. There were elements of history and moral philosophy and sociology and religion and politics and a fair sprinkling of psychology. The upshot of that discussion? I am not allowed to spend more than $150 on a prostitute. Part of this is based on the fact that if I hire a prostitute, I will need the rest of my money for a good divorce lawyer and a nice, furnished apartment at the Oakwood Gardens.[ 2] The rest is based on our agreement that the $4,400 Gov. Spitzer is alleged to have paid is just way out of line when the math is done conscientiously. As to this latter point, Kelly and I figure that when you factor in the actual time of usage, the cost of one of the governor’s prostitutes to me would be approximately $176,000 an hour. Which seems high. Actually, even $4,400 an hour is high when you figure that if I took the entire hour, we’d be spending most of it doing a Sudoku puzzle and watching an episode of “House Hunters” (two episodes if we Tivoed them and fast-forwarded through the commercials). Yet somehow the governor of New York, a smart man with a graduate degree, a product of two of the finest universities in the world, a man who has spent almost 50 years on the planet and has proven repeatedly that he can both divide and multiply, considered this a good deal. Even though he was doing it on a greased high-wire suspended over a flaming pit of hungry alligators.[ 3] What gets into people? I mean, hiring a prostitute is risky business for Joe Average. You can be the manager of an auto parts store, faceless to everyone you meet, barely able to get a waitress to come to your table, but you solicit a prostitute and suddenly there will be searchlights and sirens, helicopters and news vans, and your booking photo will be Fed-Exed to every member of your church congregation. Ask any john who’s ever been busted for it. It’s a low-percentage play. But if you hire a prostitute when you’re the governor of the most famous place in the solar system, you go beyond the realm of the bad idea and ascend to the level of transcendental lunacy. For crying out loud, you’re a guy who’s on the six o’clock news every night. You’re being watched and listened to constantly. Everybody knows your face. Your chances of escaping notice are absolutely nil. You’ve gone from a snow ballin hell to a snow flake.[ 4] And I’m sure the governor would identify with the hell metaphor right now. So it’s time for the Jay Leno question. Remember when English actor Hugh Grant, one of the most attractive and urbane men on the planet, was caught in flagrante backseatowith a transvestite prostitute? At the time, he was dating Elizabeth Hurley, a woman so beautiful I would have paid her $4,400 to pound on my instep with a claw hammer.[ 5] So help me, everything about Grant’s transgression was inexplicable. Well, less than a week later, he appeared on the “Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and Leno asked him what I’ve always considered the single best question in the history of television journalism. Leno looked at him for about 20 seconds without saying anything and then asked the question everyone in America wanted asked, “What were you THINKING?” And Grant had no answer. He had the grace to admit he had no answer. But he had no answer.[ 6] Nor, of course, does Spitzer. The talking heads do. Television is already full of pop psychologists trying to explain the inexplicable, trying to find some intellectual explanation for supremely anti-intellectual behavior. According to Slate.com, Dr. Laura tried to blame it on Mrs. Spitzer. Honest. Dr. Laura’s theory is, “When the wife does not focus in on the needs and the feelings sexually, personally, to make him feel like a man, to make him feel like a success, to make him feel like her hero, he’s very susceptible to the charm of some other woman, making him feel what he needs.” This, of course, is absolute rubbish. This might be an explanation for cheating,[ 7] but we’re not talking about cheating. We’re not talking about falling for another woman’s “charm.” We’re talking about hiring another woman’s body. This isn’t an emotional faux pas, it’s a commercial transaction. Blaming his wife is like blaming the trailer park operator for the tornado. Others have suggested resorting to prostitutes might indicate the governor had some issues with his mother. So now we’re blaming the tornado on the trailer manufacturer. I’m sure that there are dozens of journalists doing background on the governor’s mother even as I write this. Has to be Freudian, right? No. It doesn’t. It might or might not be, but it doesn’t haveto be anything but stupid. You want someone to blame? Blame the tornado. You want an explanation? Here’s an explanation: My gender does stupid things. Spectacularly stupid things. Sure, the other gender does stupid things, too. But they seem to lack my gender’s sublime capacity for the sex-driven, complete double-twisting, triple axel, “Look, Ma, both hands behind my back,” flaming, somersaulting, breaking-every-bone-and-crushing-your-spleen catastrophe. Exhibits A & B: Messrs. Grant and Spitzer. Exhibits C, D, E & F: Charlie Sheen, Eddie Murphy, Rob Lowe, Dodger pitcher Dave Stewart.[ 8] Exhibit G: My own experience AS A PROSECUTOR.[ 9] Having spent 15 years in the district attorney’s office, I can vouch for the fact prostitution gives prosecutors fits. It’s a misdemeanor, but it’s one of those third-rail misdemeanors. Legally, it’s a 30-watt misdemeanor; politically, it’s a 20,000-volt exposed wire. The prostitute defendants are usually sad, often sympathetic, waifs eking out a miserable substitute for a living by pitilessly demeaning themselves.[ 10] But the voters seem to have an interest in their punishment that far outstrips the crime. They’ll go to church and pray for them on Sunday, but on Tuesday, in the voting booth, they’ll crucify any prosecutor perceived as not throwing the trick book at them. The result is and always has been prosecutorial schizophrenia. My first job as a lawyer was prosecuting misdemeanors for a great district attorney named Cecil Hicks.[ 11] Cecil had a rule: Prostitutes go to jail. End of story, end of discussion, end of inquiry. No prostitution case could be dealt for a fine or community service[ 12] or anything else. Prostitutes had to go to jail. It wasn’t that Cecil was a rigid moralist. We weren’t working for Elmer Gantry. As far as I know, he didn’t consider the crime itself any more reprehensible than the dozens of other misdemeanors he didallow his deputies to plead out for less than jail time. But he was convinced prostitution would be a great entree into the county for organized crime, and he was determined to keep organized crime out of Orange County. So prostitutes did jail time. I don’t know if he was right. But I know prostitutes would plead to almost anything in Los Angeles County if they could get the judge to wrap up their Orange County cases as part of the deal. Fines were merely a cost of doing business for them, but jail time was hugelycounterproductive. And I know there is virtually no organized crime presence in Orange County today.[ 13] And Cecil Hicks could be elected district attorney tomorrow if he were still alive. Which puts him considerably ahead of Gov. Spitzer on at least four fronts. First, Cecil, rest his soul, is dead. Spitzer only wishes he were. Second, even dead, Cecil is more electable right now than Spitzer. Third, Cecil is buried. Spitzer will be radioactive for a thousand years; they’ll have to launch his body into space in a lead-lined trash barrel. And fourth, everybody I’ve ever talked to about Cecil Hicks respected him as a prosecutor and remembers him as a good man. Everyone has a Cecil Hicks story. Tomorrow, you will be unable to find anyone who ever shared a meal with Eliot Spitzer. So what does this have to do with you? I hope nothing. I hope you didn’t need to be reminded of any of this. But, like all cautionary tales, it has an audience � often one that nobody suspects. Maybe you’re it.But even if you’re not, there’s a definite bright side to this for you. Ours is a stressful profession. Sometimes it flat-out beats us up. You may have had a day like that today. Or a week. Or more. You may have lost a summary judgment motion … or a trial … or a witness … or a partnership. You may be headed home right now with your head down. But take heart. No matter how bad your day was � no matter how bad your week, your month, your year… it’s better than Eliot Spitzer’s. Count your blessings. And kiss your spouse.
[ 1] Did I mention Kelly reads every column? [ 2] Assuming, that is, that my needs cannot be met quite nicely by the nearest available funeral home. [ 3] Yeah, that’s a bad deal for the alligators, but an even worse one for Spitzer. [ 4] The operative word here being “flake.” [ 5] Now, of course, my limit would be $150. [ 6] He also had no Elizabeth Hurley. Ever again. [ 7] Or it might not be. [ 8] And that list, I’m embarrassed to admit, took only three minutes and no resort to the Internet. [ 9] I thought that phrase needed to be shouted in case a train happened to be going by when my wife read it. [ 10] Gov. Spitzer’s associates in The Emperor’s Club notwithstanding, prostitutes are the stoop laborers of crime (no pun intended). [ 11] “I knew him, Horatio; a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy.” And, like Hamlet’s Yorick, he carried me on his back until I gradually turned into a lawyer. [ 12] They were already servicing the community; that’s what got them in trouble. [ 13] There are also very few elephants � a fact I attribute to Cecil’s “Elephants Go to Prison” rule. Contributing writer William W. Bedsworth is an associate justice at the Fourth District Court of Appeal in Santa Ana. He writes this column to get it out of his system. He can be reached at [email protected]. You can read more columns like this in “A Criminal Waste of Time,” a book fromThe Recorder featuring more than 30 of the best columns from Justice Bedsworth. Order by calling (800) 587-9288 or visiting www.lawcatalog.com/bedsworth.

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