The decision will not be simple. Kraft works closely with the commissioner, and is a member of several powerful committees that oversee the league’s media strategy, finances and labor negotiations, as well as the committee that sets the commissioner’s salary. Kraft also owns one of the most successful franchises in league history, and within owner and executive circles, he is known as “the assistant commissioner,” with no small hint of resentment.
Joe Tacopina, a New York lawyer who filed a federal class-action civil rights lawsuit on behalf of Joyce Vedral, a fitness expert in her 70s, and other law-abiding massage patrons captured on the video, said Mr. Kraft’s case — and the prosecutions of all the other men accused — was most likely doomed.
“This case should be dismissed within an hour,” Mr. Tacopina said.
Mr. Tacopina, a former prosecutor, said the video surveillance was illegal, because police had failed to do what is called “minimization,” monitoring and stopping recording when there is no criminal activity.
“You can’t just keep it running and say, ‘We’ll deal with it later,’” he said. “It is a basic tenet of surveillance, and it’s shocking that these law enforcement officers had not done this. These were serious Fourth Amendment violations here, and the judge had no choice but to suppress the tape.”
Mr. Tacopina said he would now move to make sure that the recordings of his clients were kept under permanent seal.
To ensure that the surveillance video is not released as part of other cases, Mr. Kraft’s lawyers quickly filed a motion to the court asking for the videos to be permanently sealed.
“The court should make it abundantly clear that the state cannot make an end run around the court’s orders by simply dismissing its charges against Mr. Kraft and then releasing the videos with impunity,” the lawyers wrote.