Motion: DENIED

A New Judge, and a New Playbook

Despite the best efforts of Team Trouple – and a near love-letter to the bench – the defense request that Judge Frederick Weisberg continue overseeing the Wone trial has been denied.

As expected, the new presiding justice will be Judge Lynn Leibovitz.  You can learn more about Judge Leibovitz here.

Chief Judge Lee F. Satterfield

We had suspicions this might happen earlier when we noticed the January 15th status hearing had been “vacated,” and that Weisberg had been scheduled in the “Felony 2” track in the 2010 D.C. Superior Court assignment list.

It was at last November’s status hearing that we – along with Judge Weisberg – first learned of the defense’s wish to keep him on the case when David Schertler informed the bench of their motion filed just that morning.

Only sometime later during the hearing, when the court reporter entered to hand the Judge some paper, did he see it in text.

Schertler was joined by Grimm and Connolly in arguing that retaining Weisberg would best serve judicial economy and process, given the complexity of the case and Weisberg’s familiarity with the raft of previous motions.  Schertler even went so far as to ask the Judge directly if he would consider remaining on.  It’s fair to say Judge Weisberg seemed nonplussed at the idea, also noting that it wasn’t his decision but that of his boss, Chief Judge Lee Satterfield.

In the end, no sale.  Judge Leibovitz will mark her debut as the new presiding magistrate at January 15th’s status hearing.   As noted in Mike Scarcella’s reporting, Chief Judge Satterfield expressed great confidence the new judge was ready to tackle the intricacies of this case.  As to Thomas Connolly’s references to a new judge possibly necessitating a delay in the trial start date, Satterfield writes Leibovitz

“…is more than capable of managing these cases, getting up to speed and mastering the facts and legal issues in the cases well in advance of the May 10, 2010 trial date.”

As “Hoya Loya” previously noted, it was a little bit of legal chutzpah for the defense to argue this case merited exceptional treatment and that a new judge would discriminate against their clients.  Perhaps not the very best way to begin a new relationship with a new judge.

The questions now are how will the defense and prosecution change their playbook, given the new referee.  Beyond the pending legal issues, this will make January 15th’s court date a must-see.

posted by Doug

3 comments for “Motion: DENIED

  1. Clio
    12/15/2009 at 2:46 PM

    I would have preferred Judge Weisberg, too, if only to have the defense’s choice himself preside over guilty verdicts. But, I trust that this rebuff to the cheeky Schertler presages more procedural defeats for the Triple Alliance. Keep them coming, Lynn!

  2. AnnaZed
    12/16/2009 at 12:12 AM

    On reflection I think that motion had two significant benefits for the defense team neither of which could be said to benefit the trouple itself in any way. One, to add billable hours, always a plus along with that special sound-and-fury-signifying-nothing that makes a client feel like you are doing something when you aren’t doing much, and (two) a way to deliver a long impassioned love letter to a judge whom one might conceivably stand before again in the near future without the down side of having to contradict this judge or generally irritate him during the course of an actual trial. Cool!

  3. Clio
    12/16/2009 at 8:56 AM

    How exactly would the defense try to tailor their spiel to the new judge? Will Spag in particular go for less window dressing and fewer red herrings to just get it over with? Billable hours are fine, but it does mean being friendly with Dyl the Dependent.

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