IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Judge, lawyers seek to define meaning of ‘pimp’

Lawyers and a judge in New Hampshire are trying to come up with a precise definition for the word "pimp," after it came up at the rape trial of  a door-to-door magazine salesman.
/ Source: The Associated Press

As jurors deliberated the fate of a door-to-door magazine salesman accused of raping a customer, they asked to look at his mobile phone, which contained photos of the woman performing a sexual act.

When they turned on the phone, they saw the words "Joe Pimp" on the screen.

That surprised Joseph Haniffy's lawyers, who hadn't seen the screen.

They had agreed that jurors could look at the phone, which was admitted into evidence.

They're arguing for a new trial for Haniffy, who eventually was convicted of rape and is awaiting sentencing.

Meanwhile, the lawyers and Judge Edward Fitzgerald have been researching a precise definition for the word "pimp," referring to such sources as an Internet rap dictionary.

Haniffy's lawyers, Donna Brown and Meredith Lugo say because the phrase came up during jury deliberations and not at trial, Haniffy didn't have a chance to defend himself.

They cited one juror, who, when asked what she had seen on the phone, initially said "Joe something."

When pressed, the juror said, "Joe — something derogatory."

Prosecutor George Stewart said the words on Haniffy's mobile phone would be important only if there was a disagreement at trial about who owned the phone.

There was no dispute, he said, because Haniffy gave it to police and told them it was his phone.

Stewart argued that that the word "pimp" was insignificant.

"It is not subject to reasonable dispute that the defendant presented himself — both on the stand and in his statement to the police — as a coarse and vulgar representative of humanity with no compunction about using obscenity and profanity and describing woman and sex in insulting terms," he wrote in his arguments against a new trial.