Two weeks ago, Christopher Quinn, a prosecutor in Georgia, was arrested for soliciting a prostitute. To the surprise of many, Mr. Quinn, is still working at his office and receiving a government pay check. This story was broken by writer Peter Holley of the Washington Post.
Christopher Quinn is not making any court appearances. Nonetheless, in Florida, and specifically, Palm Beach County, if a prosecutor is arrested, that prosecutor will be fired. It will not make a difference as to whether it is a felony or misdemeanor arrest. When prosecutors are hired in Palm Beach County, they are told that if they are arrested, whether they are innocent or not, they will be fired. The State Attorney’s Office in Palm Beach County has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to one of their own being arrested.
The State Attorney’s Office in Palm Beach has this policy because they believe that there is an inherent conflict of interest in a prosecuting attorney bringing charges against people when they themselves are also being prosecuted. Although even a prosecutor, is innocent until proven guilty, the Office believes that they must hold their own employees to a higher standard.
Mr. Quinn was charged with pandering, a misdemeanor, but also, a felony RICO violation. According to police, it is alleged that Mr. Quinn was a member of an exclusive brothel known as the Gold Club. Mr. Quinn’s attorney has argued that you can’t be both a customer and also part of the RICO conspiracy.
In Palm Beach County, if someone is arrested for soliciting a prostitute and it is their first offense, they will be offered what is called, Pre-Trial Intervention. The defendant will have to take part in a class that details the dangers and emotional effects of prostitution. They will also be required to have an HIV test and perform community service hours. Upon the completion of these requirements, the misdemeanor charge will be dismissed.
From all accounts, it is believed that this prosecutor was always fair and this was uncharacteristic of him. If all Mr. Quinn did was use the services of a prostitute, then I support his office for not firing him. Frankly, I would rather have people who aren’t, “perfect” prosecuting my clients. All of us make mistakes and those mistakes should be looked at as a whole rather than the mere act. Everyone should be fully cognizant that “we are all one bad decision away from disaster.”