Delay of Game

Six Months and Half the Distance to the Goal

At the May 22 status hearing, Judge Frederick Weisberg asked the defense if they were able to go to trial by the end of this year; Weisberg even grabbed his December calender to look at dates.   A pump fake?

Defense counsel David Schertler and Tom Connolly argued December would be impossible because the Government was so slow turning over material, their independent testing of many of the items would be delayed.  Ruled in bounds.

But the D also had a couple other plays to run out the clock:  a prior engagement with the gentlemen from Blackwater, former contract employees Nicholas Slatten and Dustin Heard, who were indicted on manslaughter charges in the aftermath of the September 16, 2007  Nisour Square shooting incident in Baghdad.

This complex trial scheduled for February 1, has 50 witnesses flying in from Iraq; a long and complicated ordeal that will go on for a number of months.

Q: What else was in the Team Swann playbook?

At the May hearing the defense told Weisberg there would be no time to prepare for that February 1, court date since the Wone trial was expected to last two months.  December was impossible.

A: The long count.

At the September 18 status hearing for Kathy Wone’s $20 million wrongful death civil suit, that defense team coordinated by Schertler and his colleague Robert Spagnoletti, was now claiming the criminal trial would last one month.

In less than four months time they went from running a prevent defense to a hurry up offense.

What explains the new compressed trial length?  There’s no telling.

Were they being square with Weisberg in May that the Wone trial was going to last two months, making a December trial date impossible?

Could this trial have been getting under way right about now, three and one half years since Robert’s murder?

Could there have been the possibility there would be a verdict, maybe after the first of the year, well  before Erik Prince’s ringers have to suit up?

And now, six months out from the Wone trial date, the defense is saying the May 2010 trial date is in jeopardy because of the possible substitution of  referees judges, Lynn Leibowitz for Frederick Weisberg.

The new judge will have too much trouble getting up to speed and ruling on pending motions they contend.

What ruling they get from the booth Chief Judge Lee Satterfield is not yet apparent.  He makes the call if  Weisberg hits the showers and Leibowitz makes the starting lineup.

-posted by “Bronco” Craig

20 comments for “Delay of Game

  1. Nelly
    12/02/2009 at 11:55 AM

    A wild guess re: the compressed trial time estimate:
    Needham, Diane, and Joe’s dwindling supporters are feelin’ the financial pinch. Why do a 2-month trial if the client can’t pay?

    • Clio
      12/02/2009 at 7:02 PM

      I agree, Nelly. Finances are paramount to the defendants, as they stated in their request to keep Weisberg. Their charade may be bleeding them and their relatives dry.

      • Meto
        12/02/2009 at 8:43 PM

        Nelly and Clio:

        I won’t gainsay that finances could well be affecting the Defense strategy, but I note a “eat my cake and have it too” mentality that appears to pervade the Defense filings in the criminal and related civil cases:

        (1) When they need to delay the criminal case they tell Judge Weisberg that the criminal case will take two months, but when they want to delay the civil case they claim that the criminal case will take one month;

        (2) When they want to protect the Floride real estate, they appear to seek Florida Domicile, but when Florida connections risk their freedom while the case is pending, they are from D.C.; and

        (3) They appear to want Judge Weisberg, but appear, in my opinion, to be laying the groundwork for a delay of any criminal trial.

        As someone who appeared in the Alexandria Federal Court (Eastern District of Virginia), known as the “Rocket Docket”, Joe likely well knows the phrase carved below the statue “Winged Justice” that hovers over the front door of that Courthouse – “Justice Delayed Justice Denied”. The lack of punctuation (no comma between “Delayed” and “Justice”) is deliberate. Leavings aside finances, and as long as a Defendant is not awaiting trial in jail, delay works to the benefit of a defendant. Joe is very smart and likely knows that rule.

        I, for one, will be more than a bit surprised if the trial begins May 10 as presently scheduled.

        If I am wrong, I will willingly return to Caesar’s front lines in Further Gaul (or Spanish Gaul) as punishment.

        Respectfully,

        Meto

        • Meto
          12/02/2009 at 8:52 PM

          “Bronco” Craig, Nelly, and Clio:

          One more thing — “Bronco Craig” appears to rely on football figures and a football team nickname in this post. Leaving aside the fact that the dreadful Redskins beat the Broncos just a couple of weeks ago, I am reminded much more of the famous “Four Corners Offense” employed by fine North Carolina basketball teams in the 1970s and 1980s. The Great Coach Dean Smith recognized that the best defense is a terrific offense, even one that scored minimal points so long as the other team didn’t get the ball. That is what is going on here, in my opinion — the “Four Horseman” are playing classic Four Corners Offense.

          Respectfully,

          Meto

          • Clio
            12/02/2009 at 9:57 PM

            Sigh! Then, a war of legal attrition, while catastrophic financially to the trouple and their relatives, is their only hope to stave off the prison warden. They are hoping for a judicial Battle of the Somme, even if final defeat and disgrace will happen anyway — a little while longer down the road. How Grimm!

            BTW, sports references are usually foreign to me, but I actually understood them above. Thanks, Craig and Meto!

        • Michael
          12/04/2009 at 1:58 AM

          Meto –

          Thank you for the insight and articulate comment. These observations are reflective of the Defendants’ behavior since the night of the murder. If they are innocent, then why are they not working to identify and apprehend the “intruder” that murdered their “friend”? I would certainly investigate and use whatever resources at hand to help find the perpetrator if this happened to one of my friends.

          – Michael, co-editor

  2. Nelly
    12/02/2009 at 11:55 AM

    A wild guess re: the compressed trial time estimate:
    Needham, Diane, and Joe’s dwindling supporters are feelin’ the financial pinch. Why do a 2-month trial if the client can’t pay?

    • Clio
      12/02/2009 at 7:02 PM

      I agree, Nelly. Finances are paramount to the defendants, as they stated in their request to keep Weisberg. Their charade may be bleeding them and their relatives dry.

      • Meto
        12/02/2009 at 8:43 PM

        Nelly and Clio:

        I won’t gainsay that finances could well be affecting the Defense strategy, but I note a “eat my cake and have it too” mentality that appears to pervade the Defense filings in the criminal and related civil cases:

        (1) When they need to delay the criminal case they tell Judge Weisberg that the criminal case will take two months, but when they want to delay the civil case they claim that the criminal case will take one month;

        (2) When they want to protect the Floride real estate, they appear to seek Florida Domicile, but when Florida connections risk their freedom while the case is pending, they are from D.C.; and

        (3) They appear to want Judge Weisberg, but appear, in my opinion, to be laying the groundwork for a delay of any criminal trial.

        As someone who appeared in the Alexandria Federal Court (Eastern District of Virginia), known as the “Rocket Docket”, Joe likely well knows the phrase carved below the statue “Winged Justice” that hovers over the front door of that Courthouse – “Justice Delayed Justice Denied”. The lack of punctuation (no comma between “Delayed” and “Justice”) is deliberate. Leavings aside finances, and as long as a Defendant is not awaiting trial in jail, delay works to the benefit of a defendant. Joe is very smart and likely knows that rule.

        I, for one, will be more than a bit surprised if the trial begins May 10 as presently scheduled.

        If I am wrong, I will willingly return to Caesar’s front lines in Further Gaul (or Spanish Gaul) as punishment.

        Respectfully,

        Meto

        • Meto
          12/02/2009 at 8:52 PM

          “Bronco” Craig, Nelly, and Clio:

          One more thing — “Bronco Craig” appears to rely on football figures and a football team nickname in this post. Leaving aside the fact that the dreadful Redskins beat the Broncos just a couple of weeks ago, I am reminded much more of the famous “Four Corners Offense” employed by fine North Carolina basketball teams in the 1970s and 1980s. The Great Coach Dean Smith recognized that the best defense is a terrific offense, even one that scored minimal points so long as the other team didn’t get the ball. That is what is going on here, in my opinion — the “Four Horseman” are playing classic Four Corners Offense.

          Respectfully,

          Meto

          • Clio
            12/02/2009 at 9:57 PM

            Sigh! Then, a war of legal attrition, while catastrophic financially to the trouple and their relatives, is their only hope to stave off the prison warden. They are hoping for a judicial Battle of the Somme, even if final defeat and disgrace will happen anyway — a little while longer down the road. How Grimm!

            BTW, sports references are usually foreign to me, but I actually understood them above. Thanks, Craig and Meto!

        • Michael
          12/04/2009 at 1:58 AM

          Meto –

          Thank you for the insight and articulate comment. These observations are reflective of the Defendants’ behavior since the night of the murder. If they are innocent, then why are they not working to identify and apprehend the “intruder” that murdered their “friend”? I would certainly investigate and use whatever resources at hand to help find the perpetrator if this happened to one of my friends.

          – Michael, co-editor

  3. Clio
    12/03/2009 at 11:45 PM

    I had heard of political economy before, but “judicial economy” is a new concept to me. Besides its intended meaning, could judicial economy also imply “justice on the cheap” or “enough already?”

  4. Clio
    12/03/2009 at 11:45 PM

    I had heard of political economy before, but “judicial economy” is a new concept to me. Besides its intended meaning, could judicial economy also imply “justice on the cheap” or “enough already?”

  5. Hoya Loya
    12/04/2009 at 4:15 PM

    “Judicial economy” is evoked to justify the alleged efficient allocation of court resources. Common examples are the consolidation of related trials or assigning hearings or cases to a judge who is already familiar with complex subject matter.

    IMHO, it takes quite a bit of chutzpah for the defendants to invoke it here, arguing for efficiency when they really want/intend to cause delay. The facts of the case are puzzling, but not technically complex, like a patent case or a case involving intricate financial instruments. A new judge could get up to speed on the Wone case relatively quickly. Denial of the motion would probably not be a viable issue on appeal since it would not be a departure from normal court procedure to assign the case according to usual rotation of judges. It would be a departure only if the case were kept with Judge Weisberg, which is what they want.

    Even if the D.C. court is not the “rocket docket,” based on my own experience as an admin court clerk and as a litigator, I don’t think the senior judge will take kindly to the transparent, passive-aggressive, dilatory actions of the lawyers. There is a presumption that all jurists are equally impartial. The eagerness to keep Weisberg implies that they think he is more favorably disposed to their case or that the new judge will be less favorably disposed or less capable – both can be inferred as slights on the court and its stable of judges. In addition, while the defendants are entitled to their choice of counsel, counsel are expected to be able to manage their cases. The trouple selected high-profile, busy lawyers who obtained a relatively late trial date and postponement of the civil trial until after the criminal trial. I don’t foresee much sympathy for the “we just handled Blackwater and need more time to prepare” argument.

    Meto: your contributions here have been compelling and very insightful — please keep them coming!

  6. Hoya Loya
    12/04/2009 at 4:15 PM

    “Judicial economy” is evoked to justify the alleged efficient allocation of court resources. Common examples are the consolidation of related trials or assigning hearings or cases to a judge who is already familiar with complex subject matter.

    IMHO, it takes quite a bit of chutzpah for the defendants to invoke it here, arguing for efficiency when they really want/intend to cause delay. The facts of the case are puzzling, but not technically complex, like a patent case or a case involving intricate financial instruments. A new judge could get up to speed on the Wone case relatively quickly. Denial of the motion would probably not be a viable issue on appeal since it would not be a departure from normal court procedure to assign the case according to usual rotation of judges. It would be a departure only if the case were kept with Judge Weisberg, which is what they want.

    Even if the D.C. court is not the “rocket docket,” based on my own experience as an admin court clerk and as a litigator, I don’t think the senior judge will take kindly to the transparent, passive-aggressive, dilatory actions of the lawyers. There is a presumption that all jurists are equally impartial. The eagerness to keep Weisberg implies that they think he is more favorably disposed to their case or that the new judge will be less favorably disposed or less capable – both can be inferred as slights on the court and its stable of judges. In addition, while the defendants are entitled to their choice of counsel, counsel are expected to be able to manage their cases. The trouple selected high-profile, busy lawyers who obtained a relatively late trial date and postponement of the civil trial until after the criminal trial. I don’t foresee much sympathy for the “we just handled Blackwater and need more time to prepare” argument.

    Meto: your contributions here have been compelling and very insightful — please keep them coming!

  7. Grizzle
    12/05/2009 at 1:02 AM

    This is real?? I grew up in the same town as Dylan Ward, and just stumbled on this story. My dad saw Dr. Ward in Tacoma…he would be surprised to hear that the son is involved in this. All of Tacoma would be surprised. The East Coast brings out the worst in people.

    • She did it
      12/05/2009 at 9:20 AM

      Grizzle –

      Do take the time to tell us about Dianne and Needham. What type of parents were they? Out throwing the football with Dyl as a boy or busy with that million dollar career – or something else? how active has Di been in Dyl’s adult life — giving him support/encouragement as he navigates the complexities of being the lesser of 3 in a trouple? Is this a P-flag family or a christian conservative family, or something else. All insights appreciated.

  8. Grizzle
    12/05/2009 at 1:02 AM

    This is real?? I grew up in the same town as Dylan Ward, and just stumbled on this story. My dad saw Dr. Ward in Tacoma…he would be surprised to hear that the son is involved in this. All of Tacoma would be surprised. The East Coast brings out the worst in people.

    • She did it
      12/05/2009 at 9:20 AM

      Grizzle –

      Do take the time to tell us about Dianne and Needham. What type of parents were they? Out throwing the football with Dyl as a boy or busy with that million dollar career – or something else? how active has Di been in Dyl’s adult life — giving him support/encouragement as he navigates the complexities of being the lesser of 3 in a trouple? Is this a P-flag family or a christian conservative family, or something else. All insights appreciated.

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