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Church State Issues

Phoenix transgender activist continues prostitution appeal

Nov 25, 2014

Arizona Republic

Don't these police officers have any real criminals to hunt down???

Let's say Monica Jones is guilty as charged to all the crimes she is charged with. Who cares!!!! It's a victimless crime and didn't hunt anybody.


Phoenix transgender activist continues prostitution appeal

Jennifer Soules, The Republic | azcentral.com 6:04 p.m. MST November 24, 2014

Monica Jones, the Phoenix transgender woman convicted in April for manifesting prostitution, never had a chance for a fair trial, her attorney argued Monday morning as part of Jones' appeal.

Jones' attorney, Jean-Jacques Cabou, argued that his client had been convicted in a trial full of errors, where the only witnesses who testified were Jones and the arresting officer.

Jones was arrested in May 2013 after accepting a ride from an undercover officer during a prostitution-related sting operation conducted by the Phoenix Police Department.

The officer and Jones both agreed that she accepted a ride from the officer, but the two disagreed on several key factors, such as who initiated the ride and who instigated sexual contact.

Cabou also argued that prosecutors in the April trial in Phoenix Municipal Court preemptively discussed Jones' punishment before she was convicted. The discussion discredited Jones' testimony before she had the opportunity to take the stand and diminished the presumption of innocence she should have enjoyed, Cabou said.

In his rebuttal, Assistant City Prosecutor Gary Shupe said Jones was aware of the potential punishment for the crime based on a previous prostitution conviction. Shupe said the discussion in the trial about Jones' prior conviction did not equate to talking about her punishment before the verdict was delivered.

In order to violate the Phoenix ordinance, which outlaws the intent to buy or sell sex, a person must have attempted to engage a passer-by in conversation, stop cars by waving at them, inquire whether someone is a law enforcement officer or request that someone touch his or her genitals.

Though the appeal hinges on whether Jones received a fair trial in Phoenix Municipal Court, her attorney also dedicated a good chunk of his argument Monday to discrediting the Phoenix prostitution ordinance Jones was convicted of violating.

The ordinance violates fundamental free-speech protections such as the freedom to ask someone if they are a police officer, Cabou said, which should not be considered enough probable cause for an arrest.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Crane McClennen raised some questions and observations of his own once Cabou dove into his free speech argument.

"It's one thing to hail down a police officer for help with a lost dog or something, it's another thing to grab that officer's genitals," McClennen said.

Cabou also said the ordinance gives law enforcement the chance to profile and unfairly target those in marginalized communities.

"(The ordinance) basically means that we now have a law against looking wrong or suspicious," Cabou said.

Jones' case has captured local and national attention.

Monday's court room was standing room only after a group of local supporters came to hear the argument for appeal. Laverne Cox, a transgender woman known for her role on the Netflix series "Orange is the New Black," also came to Phoenix in August to support Jones.

Laverne Cox — a transgender woman and LGBT-rights advocate who's been nominated for an Emmy for her role on the Netflix series "Orange is the New Black" — was in Phoenix on Tuesday to support Monica Jones.

Jones, a full-time student at Arizona State University, said she is glad her case is giving her a platform to continue her activism, but the time and attention has started to affect her schooling.

"There's some good, I get to speak about these issues and sex-worker issues, but it also affects my schooling," Jones said. "It makes me uncomfortable in a place I should be comfortable."