After nearly four years of litigation, U.S. District Judge Susan Brnovich declared a mistrial in the Backpage.com matter pending in the District of Arizona. The Judge found that the government repeatedly flouted the Court’s orders by presenting inflammatory testimony not related to charged offenses in an attempt to play to jurors' emotions.
The Court held that the cumulative effect of the inflammatory child sex trafficking references made by prosecutors in opening statements and by its witnesses “is something that [it] can’t overlook and will not overlook.” It said the government “abused [the Court’s] leeway” and unfairly tainted the jury with inflammatory testimony, instead of focusing on the charged crime.
Bienert Katzman Littrell Williams LLP partners Thomas Bienert, Jr. and Whitney Bernstein represent one of the Backpage.com founders. “The government knows that it can’t prove its case against our client,” said Whitney Bernstein, “so it instead tried to manipulate the jury with heartbreaking and horrendous tales of uncharged child sex trafficking untethered to the case.”