Judge Lifts Restraining Order Banning D.C. Madam From Revealing Client List

A woman accused of running a prostitution ring in the nation's capital is free to distribute thousands of pages of phone records after a federal judge lifted a restraining order on Thursday.

U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler's order granted the request of Deborah Jeane Palfrey, 51, of Vallejo, Calif., to quash restrictions by government prosecutors that prohibited her from giving away the list.

"As a result, Jeane has determined to release those records under certain conditions to qualified individuals or organizations," wrote her attorney, Montgomery Blair Sibley, in an e-mail.

Palfrey and her attorney have said the list contains up to 15,000 names and could shake up Washington by revealing high-profile individuals.

Prosecutors had won two temporary restraining orders to prevent her from distributing the list, first to preserve its availability, and then to prevent the harassment of potential witnesses through its distribution.

But prosecutors' arguments did not hold up, the judge ruled. The availability of the list is not in jeopardy and it was not seized or listed with her other assets that were subject to forfeiture, Kessler wrote.

Freezing "the personal property of an individual, not yet convicted of any crime" would be an extraordinary step, the requirements of which government prosecutors failed to satisfy, the judge wrote.

Palfrey is facing federal racketeering and conspiracy charges for running what she says was a legal escort service. Prosecutors say the business netted more than $2 million from 1993 to 2006.