Mouthpieces

A Friend is Slain in Your Home?  STFU

One of the more unsettling aspects of the then-suspects’, now defendants’ puzzling behavior following Robert’s murder was their complete silence on both their friend’s death and their own innocence.

And Speak No Evil

Speak No Evil

None of the three Swann Street housemates found it necessary to distance themselves from the crime by way of public statements or even through their attorneys.

The first time we heard from any of them was more than two years after the murder.  Price, hat in hand, was trying to scare up funds for his legal defense.

So it was left to the hired guns to do the talking.  Kathleen Voelker, at that point representing the domestic partners, was initially very measured in her comments, telling the Legal Times Emma Schwartz, “They remain hopeful that the police will identify the intruder who committed this senseless crime.”

David Schertler, on the clock for Ward, was wildly optimistic with Schwartz, saying “My client has not done anything wrong, and I don’t believe he will be charged.”

When Allison Klein banged out the first Washington Post story, Voelker wasn’t returning phone calls while Schertler stayed on message.  Quoting Klein’s story,

“Schertler…said Ward had nothing to do with Wone’s slaying.  Schertler said Ward told police that neither of the other two men was involved, either.”

When the grand jury started poking around, Voelker – perhaps feeling more heat ramped up her language – told the Post’s Allan Lengel that,  “…the three men have told police ‘unequivocally that none of them were involved.'”

Innocent until proven guilty is a cherished precept no doubt, but is there a way to look any guiltier than by hiding behind such an impenetrable wall of silence? 

-Craig

34 comments for “Mouthpieces

  1. Robert Meacham
    08/31/2009 at 2:39 PM

    Thank for your work on this case. I heard about this site through a friend and I admire your indefatigible effforts to find the truth. I wish I only could help.

    Robert

  2. Robert Meacham
    08/31/2009 at 2:39 PM

    Thank for your work on this case. I heard about this site through a friend and I admire your indefatigible effforts to find the truth. I wish I only could help.

    Robert

  3. Clio
    08/31/2009 at 4:45 PM

    Our dear trouple, of all people, should know that the spirit of Stonewall is not the same as stonewalling. While strategically correct from a legal standpoint, staying silent has done nothing for their public, pre-8/2/2006 images as tribunes of “the lavender menace.” What a pity!

    • Bea
      08/31/2009 at 6:19 PM

      So right, Clio.

      I am VERY curious if Kathleen Voelkner still considers herself a staunch supporter of her old pal Joe. I’m sure she was fine with Bernie Grimm taking over (she’s a white collar crime attorney) but I wonder if she felt used or duped into speaking for Joe and Victor in the beginning – and whether she EVER had a frank discussion with Victor apart from Joe.

      I went back and read the begging-email to “Friends and Family” that Joe sent on Arent Fox email before he was canned. Wonder if he sent any follow ups on his Gmail account (no, not his “special” Yahoo account) and if contributors get any kind of update (or tote bag).

      • Clio
        08/31/2009 at 11:20 PM

        Yes, Ms. Voelker must be regretting her words in retrospect, but that raises other questions about other women friends/colleagues of Joe who have volunteered to take up his “Lost Cause” — who is, then, Carol McGee, Esq., the named Trustee of the trouple’s Legal Defense Fund and of the firm Alston & Byrd? Is she still on board the Price at any price?

        I do hope that contributors to the (generically-named) Legal Defense Fund may get some token for their (potentially embarrassing) troubles: if not “a tote bag,” then, perhaps, a pair of gloves, or an array of door chimes, or, maybe even, a cutlery set for the really high rollers.

        • 09/01/2009 at 8:09 AM

          i was thinking more along the lines of an enema bag or douche kit; i think the cutlery set is incomplete.

        • Craig
          09/01/2009 at 9:40 AM

          Which brings up a thought – Do confidentiality agreements between an attorney and client expire when he/she drops the case?

          Besides friendship, is there anything preventing Ms. Voelker from sharing what she knows about the crime?

          Since she’s not on the clock anymore , is she allowed to talk with either the government or the current defense teams?
          Or us?

          • Just Another Friend
            09/01/2009 at 10:08 AM

            DC Bar Rules of Professional Conduct sec. 1.6(g)
            “The lawyer’s obligation to preserve the client’s confidences and secrets continues after termination of the lawyer’s employment.”

            • CDinDC
              09/01/2009 at 10:56 AM

              Boy…guess that answers that. LOL

            • Craig
              09/01/2009 at 12:17 PM

              JAF – Thanks.

              Here’s the DC Bar doc that you site.

              But what about this line — as to possibly furthering the crime of obstruction or conspiracy???

              (d) When a client has used or is using a lawyer’s services to further a crime or fraud, the lawyer may reveal client confidences and secrets, to the extent reasonably necessary:

              (1) to prevent the client from committing the crime or fraud if it is reasonably certain to result in substantial injury to the financial interests or property of another; or

              (2) to prevent, mitigate or rectify substantial injury to the financial interests or property of another that is reasonably certain to result or has resulted from the client’s commission of the crime or fraud.

              • Bea
                09/01/2009 at 12:53 PM

                My take, and Themis may disagree, is that the exceptions to a lawyer keeping his/her mouth shut relate to ongoing crimes – not that it’s not “a crime” to continue covering up the murder, but under the law, Ms. Voelker can’t tell what she knows since she represented Joe/Victor UNLESS she was told that the boys were planning on having another sleepover victim and intended to rape/murder him too. Then she could/would have to prevent this crime.

                • AnnaZed
                  09/01/2009 at 1:40 PM

                  Doesn’t Mrs. Wone stand to be impacted adversely financially in the civil suit? Does that apply?

                • CuriousInVa
                  09/01/2009 at 2:39 PM

                  The exception would also arise if the client admitted to the lawyer they did it. A lawyer cannot stand up in court and argue that a client is not guilty if the client has admitted to the lawyer that they committed the crime (that is, unless the client admits the crime but says it was in self-defense, they were insane, etc. ). Otherwise, confidentiality can only be waived by the client – never the attorney.

              • Just Another Friend
                09/01/2009 at 5:07 PM

                I couldn’t speculate whether the exception applies, but I would point out that the exception is discretionary. As you scroll down the linked page, see Note 20:
                “This rule permits but does not require the disclosure of information relating to a client’s representation to accomplish the purposes specified. In exercising the discretion conferred by this rule by paragraphs (c) and (d), the lawyer may consider such factors as the nature of the lawyer’s relationship with the client and with those who might be injured by the client, the lawyer’s own involvement in the transaction, and factors that may extenuate the conduct in question.” Etc.

                There are attorneys who specialize in ethics. What we really need is one of those, or a criminal attorney who has first-hand experience with this situation. I would note that even if an attorney was in a situation fitting within this exception, I would expect him/her to be relatively limited and targeted with his/her disclosures. In other words, I would be extremely surprised to see Ms. Voelker posting here.

  4. Clio
    08/31/2009 at 4:45 PM

    Our dear trouple, of all people, should know that the spirit of Stonewall is not the same as stonewalling. While strategically correct from a legal standpoint, staying silent has done nothing for their public, pre-8/2/2006 images as tribunes of “the lavender menace.” What a pity!

    • Bea
      08/31/2009 at 6:19 PM

      So right, Clio.

      I am VERY curious if Kathleen Voelkner still considers herself a staunch supporter of her old pal Joe. I’m sure she was fine with Bernie Grimm taking over (she’s a white collar crime attorney) but I wonder if she felt used or duped into speaking for Joe and Victor in the beginning – and whether she EVER had a frank discussion with Victor apart from Joe.

      I went back and read the begging-email to “Friends and Family” that Joe sent on Arent Fox email before he was canned. Wonder if he sent any follow ups on his Gmail account (no, not his “special” Yahoo account) and if contributors get any kind of update (or tote bag).

      • Clio
        08/31/2009 at 11:20 PM

        Yes, Ms. Voelker must be regretting her words in retrospect, but that raises other questions about other women friends/colleagues of Joe who have volunteered to take up his “Lost Cause” — who is, then, Carol McGee, Esq., the named Trustee of the trouple’s Legal Defense Fund and of the firm Alston & Byrd? Is she still on board the Price at any price?

        I do hope that contributors to the (generically-named) Legal Defense Fund may get some token for their (potentially embarrassing) troubles: if not “a tote bag,” then, perhaps, a pair of gloves, or an array of door chimes, or, maybe even, a cutlery set for the really high rollers.

        • 09/01/2009 at 8:09 AM

          i was thinking more along the lines of an enema bag or douche kit; i think the cutlery set is incomplete.

        • Craig
          09/01/2009 at 9:40 AM

          Which brings up a thought – Do confidentiality agreements between an attorney and client expire when he/she drops the case?

          Besides friendship, is there anything preventing Ms. Voelker from sharing what she knows about the crime?

          Since she’s not on the clock anymore , is she allowed to talk with either the government or the current defense teams?
          Or us?

          • Just Another Friend
            09/01/2009 at 10:08 AM

            DC Bar Rules of Professional Conduct sec. 1.6(g)
            “The lawyer’s obligation to preserve the client’s confidences and secrets continues after termination of the lawyer’s employment.”

            • CDinDC
              09/01/2009 at 10:56 AM

              Boy…guess that answers that. LOL

            • Craig
              09/01/2009 at 12:17 PM

              JAF – Thanks.

              Here’s the DC Bar doc that you site.

              But what about this line — as to possibly furthering the crime of obstruction or conspiracy???

              (d) When a client has used or is using a lawyer’s services to further a crime or fraud, the lawyer may reveal client confidences and secrets, to the extent reasonably necessary:

              (1) to prevent the client from committing the crime or fraud if it is reasonably certain to result in substantial injury to the financial interests or property of another; or

              (2) to prevent, mitigate or rectify substantial injury to the financial interests or property of another that is reasonably certain to result or has resulted from the client’s commission of the crime or fraud.

              • Bea
                09/01/2009 at 12:53 PM

                My take, and Themis may disagree, is that the exceptions to a lawyer keeping his/her mouth shut relate to ongoing crimes – not that it’s not “a crime” to continue covering up the murder, but under the law, Ms. Voelker can’t tell what she knows since she represented Joe/Victor UNLESS she was told that the boys were planning on having another sleepover victim and intended to rape/murder him too. Then she could/would have to prevent this crime.

                • AnnaZed
                  09/01/2009 at 1:40 PM

                  Doesn’t Mrs. Wone stand to be impacted adversely financially in the civil suit? Does that apply?

                • CuriousInVa
                  09/01/2009 at 2:39 PM

                  The exception would also arise if the client admitted to the lawyer they did it. A lawyer cannot stand up in court and argue that a client is not guilty if the client has admitted to the lawyer that they committed the crime (that is, unless the client admits the crime but says it was in self-defense, they were insane, etc. ). Otherwise, confidentiality can only be waived by the client – never the attorney.

                  • Bea
                    09/01/2009 at 6:26 PM

                    If a defendant tells his lawyer that he’s guilty, and wants to take the stand to say he didn’t, then the lawyer has to withdraw so as to not perpetrate “a fraud on the court”. Other than that, lawyers don’t tell what their clients told them. Not even after they’re no longer their lawyers. I’d love it if Kathleen could speak, but it’s a basic tenet of law that allows one to feel confident to speak to one’s lawyer – not unlike a priest during confession, or a psychiatrist during a therapy session. They can all STOP a FUTURE crime from happening, but very rarely testify about what they know of a past crime if learned while under the privilege.

                    • CuriousInVa
                      09/01/2009 at 9:49 PM

                      My point exactly… I deal with this on a daily basis….if Joe or any of the others confessed to the lawyer, the lawyer can’t say a word about it but also cannot enter a straight up plea of not guilty.

                      If the lawyer suspects guilt but has not heard a confession, then they must follow their client’s wishes. If at any time during the proceedings, the client admits guilt the atty cannot continue the representation that the client is not guilty. However, they also cannot speak about the details gained during representation. If the client refuses to w/draw the not guilty plea then the atty has to w/draw but still cannot speak a word about any details.

                      If after the trial the client admits guilt, the atty can do nothing about it. They still cannot speak a word.

                      It all has to do attorney guidelines and with perpetuating a fraud upon the court. You cannot argue anything that you as a lawyer know to be untrue.

                      But, at the some time, you cannot reveal client confidences that you might believe to be untrue or even reveal them after you withdraw b/c you know them to be untrue.

                      Most attys agonize over when it is appropriate or necessary to reveal a client confidence and go to judges or state bar associations to get rulings on whether they are in a position to waive the privilege.

              • Just Another Friend
                09/01/2009 at 5:07 PM

                I couldn’t speculate whether the exception applies, but I would point out that the exception is discretionary. As you scroll down the linked page, see Note 20:
                “This rule permits but does not require the disclosure of information relating to a client’s representation to accomplish the purposes specified. In exercising the discretion conferred by this rule by paragraphs (c) and (d), the lawyer may consider such factors as the nature of the lawyer’s relationship with the client and with those who might be injured by the client, the lawyer’s own involvement in the transaction, and factors that may extenuate the conduct in question.” Etc.

                There are attorneys who specialize in ethics. What we really need is one of those, or a criminal attorney who has first-hand experience with this situation. I would note that even if an attorney was in a situation fitting within this exception, I would expect him/her to be relatively limited and targeted with his/her disclosures. In other words, I would be extremely surprised to see Ms. Voelker posting here.

  5. Ex-Foxer
    08/31/2009 at 6:58 PM

    Not sure if Joe ever sent any follow-ups to his letter, but there was actually a follow-up sent to several attorneys at Arent Fox by an associate that Joe was good friends with. Here’s the interesting part: the follow-up letter was the exact same letter, just with a few words changed to make it look like it had come from the associate, and not Joe. The follow-up was only sent to a select group of individuals; I wasn’t on the list, but saw the email nevertheless. I have no idea if Joe included any Arent attorneys on his initial email, or if he let the associate do all the dirty work in that regard.

    • Bea
      08/31/2009 at 8:14 PM

      Wow. My guess is that Joe knew he was being let go by Arent, or thought it highly likely, or he wouldn’t have used the Arent email system. Like I said before, it’s like sending out a letter on firm letterhead – it’s just NOT DONE.

      • Clio
        08/31/2009 at 10:39 PM

        Yikes! Mr. Price was apparently good at getting “associates,” both at the office and at home, to do part or all of the “dirty work” for him. What a cad that he was (and still remains)!

  6. Ex-Foxer
    08/31/2009 at 6:58 PM

    Not sure if Joe ever sent any follow-ups to his letter, but there was actually a follow-up sent to several attorneys at Arent Fox by an associate that Joe was good friends with. Here’s the interesting part: the follow-up letter was the exact same letter, just with a few words changed to make it look like it had come from the associate, and not Joe. The follow-up was only sent to a select group of individuals; I wasn’t on the list, but saw the email nevertheless. I have no idea if Joe included any Arent attorneys on his initial email, or if he let the associate do all the dirty work in that regard.

    • Bea
      08/31/2009 at 8:14 PM

      Wow. My guess is that Joe knew he was being let go by Arent, or thought it highly likely, or he wouldn’t have used the Arent email system. Like I said before, it’s like sending out a letter on firm letterhead – it’s just NOT DONE.

      • Clio
        08/31/2009 at 10:39 PM

        Yikes! Mr. Price was apparently good at getting “associates,” both at the office and at home, to do part or all of the “dirty work” for him. What a cad that he was (and still remains)!

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