Civil Order

Judge Brook Hedge Keeps Things Moving

It really wasn’t our intention to be posting every day, but…

Wasting no time, Judge Brook Hedge issued her first order since the criminal verdict came down last Tuesday.  She officially lifted the stay on the civil case and requested counsel on both sides to “…meet and confer as to a proposed schedule for this case…”

Eleven attorneys at five separate firms comprise the teams.  Under the heading of, “You dance with the ones that brung sprung you,” Defendant Dylan Ward continues to retain David Scherlter and Robert Spagnoletti.  Price and Zaborsky have separate teams working on their behalf this time:

David Schertler, Esquire, Robert Spagnoletti, Esquire
Schertler & & Onorato LLP  Counsel for Defendant Dylan M. Ward

Frank F. Daily, Esquire, Sean P. Edwards, Esquire, Larissa N. Byers, Esquire
The Law Offices of Frank F. Daily, P.A.   Counsel for Defendant Victor Zaborsky

Craig D. Roswell, Esquire, Heather B. Nelson, Esquire
Niles, Barton & Wilmer, LLP   Counsel for Defendant Joseph Price

Benjamin J. Razi, Esquire, Stephen W. Rodger, Esquire,  Daniel Suleiman
Covington & Burling LLP   Counsel for Plaintiff

Patrick M. Regan, Esquire
Regan Zambri & Long, PLLC  Counsel for Plaintiff

Hedge wants them to come to agreement on a schedule and submit by August 6, about a month ahead of the next status hearing in the case.  If  they cannot reach an agreement, she still wants to see their separate proposed scheduling thoughts. 

The full order follows.

-posted by Craig

47 comments for “Civil Order

  1. Kate
    07/08/2010 at 10:37 AM

    Good morning, All,

    According to the National Legal Times article, highlighted in the Editor’s previous entry, Patrick Regan was added to the plaintiff’s team due to his expertise in wrongful death cases.

    I have a pecuniary question: Who will foot Mr. Regan’s bill? Covington & Burling? Robert Wone’s Estate? Or is he also on board pro bono?

    I don’t recall reading about his fees anywhere …

    Many thanks for your thoughts and insights,
    Kate

    • leo
      07/08/2010 at 10:40 AM

      I believe it’s been posted that he too is working pro bono.

      • Kate
        07/08/2010 at 11:05 AM

        Thanks Leo – I missed that post somewhere in my heat wave induced malaise.

        Regards,
        Kate

        • WhatACase
          07/09/2010 at 8:22 PM

          pro bono, or contingency? I don’t recall reading a personal connection between Wone and Regan.

          • CDinDC (Boycott BP)
            07/09/2010 at 8:43 PM

            all of Kathy Wone’s representation is pro bono.

    • Bodhi
      07/08/2010 at 8:10 PM

      I believe it is critically important that our esteemed editors and the “responding” community stay involved. While the nature of the legal proceedings have changed, the motivating factor has not: no one has been held accountable for Robert Wone’s death. Our esteemed editors have done as much or more than most to keep this fact front and center. Please stay at it and we will support you.

      Peace.

  2. Lee
    07/08/2010 at 12:13 PM

    I know this isn’t relevant to anything of any importance but I’m impressed that Judge Brook Hedge so resembles Donny Bonaduce from The Partridge Family–http://www.imdb.com/media/rm3246168064/nm0093697

    • leo
      07/08/2010 at 1:16 PM

      Uncanny! Although the picture above is very old; she really doesn’t look like Danny anymore. Pic from March linked:
      http://www.washingtonblade.com/2010/03/09/same-sex-weddings-commence-in-d-c/

      • Lee
        07/08/2010 at 2:12 PM

        Well, Danny doesn’t look much like he did in The Partridge Family either. Is this one of those separated at birth situations?

      • AnnaZed
        07/08/2010 at 9:13 PM

        Wow, I would say rather old head shot there, she looks like she’s in high-school in that picture.

        • Clio
          07/08/2010 at 10:11 PM

          I agree, AZ: is that her yearbook photo there? If it is, Editors, do we have the yearbook photos of the Swann Street Three to compare with hers? Hair and makeup are key indicators of time and place.

          • AnnaZed
            07/08/2010 at 10:15 PM

            I am so sure that I would enjoy seeing the trouple in their high-school year book pictures, particularly Dylan looking Puck-like before his transformation into Joel Grey (minus that talent and charisma of course).

        • CDinDC (Boycott BP)
          07/08/2010 at 10:18 PM

          Here’s a much better view of the Judge.

          In this video, she officiates the first same-sex civil marriage ceremony in Washington DC.

          http://www.washingtonblade.com/2010/03/09/same-sex-weddings-commence-in-d-c/

  3. Laura
    07/08/2010 at 12:16 PM

    I, for one, am glad you are continuing to post updates and new information every day. This isn’t over by a long shot and those of us who have invested our time and care into seeing some sort of positive outcome for Kathy Wone and family are grateful for this site and the service it provides. We also take comfort in the fact that the heat still remains on the three. Thank you once again, editors.

    • chilaw79
      07/08/2010 at 12:36 PM

      Laura,

      Although I certainly cannot speak for the editors, it is a fact that much of what goes on in civil litigation does not take place in court rooms, but rather in law offices. While the parties to the litigation will know what is occurring (and may share it with reporters) or may require the filing of papers in court, deposition transcripts, answers to interrogatories, and responses to document production requests probably will not be filed with the court until trial is imminent.

      I am pleased that this site may be pushing media coverage by local newspapers, magazines, and legal blogs. For that and for all us the editors do, they deserve our thanks and admiration.

      • Laura
        07/08/2010 at 12:57 PM

        Thanks, chilaw, for the additional info. This blog has absolutely contributed to the visibility of this case and even if things get quiet for awhile as the civil case wheels turn, I think we can all rest assured that more people out there in many media and legal venues are aware of and following what happens next. I will wait patiently along with everyone else for whatever news comes whenever it comes.

        PS – Even Gene Weingarten interrupted his humor chat the week of the verdict to post the result and ask whether anyone wanted to discuss!

    • Jim
      07/08/2010 at 12:39 PM

      Yea, Thanks Craig, I have been going thought a bit of withdraw since the verdict. I appreciate every post!

  4. BadShoes
    07/08/2010 at 12:34 PM

    Question for the lawyers:

    Can Messrs. Ward, Zaborsky and Price avail themselves of their fifth amendment rights to decline to testify or be deposed at all, or can they be compelled to appear, and then decline to answer only specific questions (or subject areas)?

    Example non-incriminating question: “Is your name Joseph Price?”

    • chilaw79
      07/08/2010 at 12:49 PM

      The parties generally would be required to appear unless a stay is granted. Since no indictments are pending against the defendants, it is unlikely that a stay will be granted. At this point, I do not think Judge Hedge would look kindly at the tactic.

      That said, the defendants can invoke the privilege against self-incrimination in a civil deposition. The best practice is to ask the questions, make the witness invoke the privilege, and then go to court to seek a ruling if the parties cannot reach an agreement about whether the privilege applies.

      The question “Is your name Joseph Price” seems innocuous enough to me in this case that I cannot see Price invoking. (If this were a case where a defendant was being used for identity theft, it would be a different story.) However, questions about whether Joseph Price has ever used an alias in posting on web sites might be viewed differently.

      That said, I don’t think it would take long before the privilege against self-incrimination is invoked in deposition testimony by one or more of the defendants if they believe they could be criminally charged in connection with the death of Robert Wone.

      A criminal defense lawyer handling the case might decide the better course of action is to simply refuse to testify, but that poses other issues, including failure to cooperate with the insurance company, the inferences that can be drawn from silence, and the potential for discovery sanctions, including precluding the defendants from presenting evidence of certain types. I would be interested in hearing what Themis, KiKi, or other criminal lawyers have to say on the topic.

      • allofthismakesmesick
        07/08/2010 at 10:36 PM

        I think that the psychological stress of having to invoke the 5th (which I think they will do, very frequently) will wreak havoc in the lives and emotional states of the defendants. No matter how insulated they may feel from reality, especially now, there is no doubt that they realize that invoking the 5th will be a dramatic “aha” moment for the world at large. I hope one of them eventually crumbles due to this and other factors. My point: up to now they have engaged in a (arguably) delusional stance that they are victims but…but…but….may i say…BUT….once they start invoking the 5th that will appear to most as a joke.

        And, I assume the 5h has to be invoked question by question, not on a blanket basis. So we will see them refusing to answer what ought to be innocuous questions.

        If you think the reputation of these guys is bad now, stay tuned….

        NOw…finally…let me say…I will be ecstatic if they testify fully and shed some light on events. But I doubt that will happen.

        • chilaw79
          07/08/2010 at 11:35 PM

          If I were defense counsel, I would ask them to invoke as to each question to preserve the ability to ask the court for a determination on whether the defendants could invoke as to the specific question asked. Why make it easy for them?

          Of course, absent a gag order, I would have various media folks on speed dial, too, including Craig–the editor of this blog.

        • Bodhi
          07/10/2010 at 3:27 PM

          I concur – the psychological stress of invoking the 5th, of the community’s rejection of the claims of innocence, of Judge Liebovitz’s harsh opinion all has to wear on one or more of them.

          Given their prior standing in the community, it does not seem like a leap of faith to conclude that their inability to return to their former lives has to hurt and haunt them for years. How will they work, for instance?

          Anyway, legally, they cannot make a blanket claim of 5th amendment privilege. It has to be invoked on a question by question basis. They can only say we will continually invoke it for a specific question.

  5. chilaw79
    07/08/2010 at 3:06 PM

    I always like it when a judge issues an order “nunc pro tunc.”

    The only thing I don’t like about the order is that it seems to vitiate the discovery cut-off dates that were in place once the verdict was rendered. The prior order would have required discovery to proceed very rapidly and essentially be concluded within 75 days.

    The prior order was the DC version of the “rocket docket.” I have a feeling the defendants will want a more serene pace. Given the fact that it will soon be four years since Robert’s death, it is time to put the pedal to the metal, before memories fade, materials get lost or deteriorate, and people move or die.

  6. chilaw79
    07/08/2010 at 5:39 PM

    Several people have posted about “sharp play” and the role it may have played in Robert’s death. Recognizing that some folks read this blog at work, I wonder if anyone could describe this practice and the role that drugs and/or physical restraint may play.

    The reason I am asking is that DC recognizes that violent acts may occur during the commission of another crime and that people other than the person who wields the weapon may be held liable. The leading case in DC involves a high-end cat burglar who routinely stole property from the homes of wealthy individuals. During the course of a burglary, he murdered a prominent physician.

    The burglar’s girlfriend was not with him when the burglary and murder were committed, but both the burglar and the girlfriend were sued for the physician’s wrongful death. The girlfriend knew how the burglar afforded their opulent life style (including a million dollar home in Great Falls) and assisted with certain tasks after the burglaries occurred.

    For those who want to look at the case, it is Halberstam v. Welch.

    • Liam
      07/08/2010 at 9:09 PM

      I know nothing about “sharp play” but I noticed that the Halberstam case was “before WALD, BORK and SCALIA, Circuit Judges.”

      Are the Bork and Scalia of that opinion the Supreme Court nominee and Supreme Court Justice of later years? (The opinion was 1983.)

      • chilaw79
        07/08/2010 at 10:30 PM

        Yes, they are one and the same.

        The cardiologist who was murdered was the older brother of the writer, David Halberstam. The case created something of a sensation. The burglar was known as the the “Standard Time Burglar” and committed over 3,000 burglaries in the DC area. Halberstam, although mortally wounded, got in his car and managed to run Welch over. Welch tried to portray himself as the victim (despite having stolen millions) and alleged that Halberstam “ruined his life.” He hired a prominent defense lawyer and tried to market a book and to get Steve McQueen to play him in a movie.

        • Liam
          07/08/2010 at 10:51 PM

          Wow, that is really a fascinating case (as is the present case).

          Among other things, how does one have time to commit (and get away with) 3000 burglaries? That’s almost one a day for ten years. I suppose if it’s your full time profession, you have the time.

          Thank you for that information (and all the other valuable insight and information that you have generously shared).

          • chilaw79
            07/08/2010 at 11:38 PM

            The case may be relevant here, because it effectively permits the plaintiff in a civil case to attribute criminal conduct from one person to another person who knows about the crime and does not reveal what they know.

            Some of the ill gotten gains recovered in the wrongful death action were used to fund various charitable causes.

  7. BadShoes
    07/08/2010 at 7:00 PM

    I’ve been puzzling over WHY a person might want to keep embarrassing photo archives at work. Perhaps:

    –Someone wanted to conceal the exact nature of their activities from their domestic partner.

    –OTOH, maybe somebody was clocking so many billable hours at work that activities that would normally take place at home end up migrating into the office. I’m pretty sure nobody would be looking to link browser history files back to client billing records.

    • Bill 2
      07/08/2010 at 7:16 PM

      He’s probably the type who doesn’t find those photos to be embarrassing. They may have been part of his plans for the porn shop — ads for videos he wanted to sell.

    • susan
      07/08/2010 at 7:18 PM

      I know it isn’t the same as downloading porn, and JP was at a law firm, and you would think an atty would know better, but it doesn’t strike me as that surprising. He prob. never thought anybody but himself would see it and it prob. gave him a thrill during the day. It also goes together with what seemed was his major outside interest–other men other than his partner and porn.

      • AnnaZed
        07/08/2010 at 9:21 PM

        That would mean that he would have to have not even a rudimentary understanding of the function of the company IT department and the completely unfettered access that they have to every file on any computer belonging to the company (whether you think you deleted the file or not) which for some reason I doubt. Full disclosure: my man is an IT geek. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that you do on a work computer that can be concealed from them, nothing. I thought everyone knew this.

    • Liam
      07/08/2010 at 8:02 PM

      If he was sending his pics to other people, perhaps it was convenient to do that during his long hours at work.

      But, it wouldn’t surprise me if he just liked to look at himself.

    • Clio
      07/08/2010 at 10:27 PM

      Why would Joe want to conceal the nature of those photos from Victor? Didn’t Victor acquiesce to “Sparkly Cat” and his “smartassedness” staying at Swann? He must have known the rawest of details after putting up with almost three years of Dyl.

      With the photos, then, Joe may have been pushing the envelope and hoping not to get caught, just like on August 2, 2006. Were any such intimate pictures seized at home, though?

      • BadShoes
        07/09/2010 at 9:10 AM

        AFAIK, no photos were found at home, and simply deleting the photos from a home computer wouldn’t be sufficient to actually make them disappear permanently.

        It struck me as odd that the collection would only be at work. There might be a behavioral explanation. Possibly somebody didn’t have a laptop that went along with the digital cameras they didn’t have either.

        It would be interesting to know if any of the computers found in the defendant’s home or email traffic or browser histories that lined up with the traffic on all of the defendants’ known private email accounts. It would be interesting if there was a lot of traffic that couldn’t be traced to any particulary computer.

  8. Clio
    07/08/2010 at 10:19 PM

    “Eleven attorneys at five separate firms comprise the teams.” Is that unusually large for a civil case, or is the number of lawyers average for civil court?

    Also, will having eleven attorneys on the case make agreeing on a schedule more difficult, or is it in everyone’s interest to get it over with pronto? Joe and company may want a faster pace because of their legal bills, for instance.

    • chilaw79
      07/08/2010 at 10:36 PM

      Eleven lawyers is not that unusual, although it seems like a lot for a DC Superior Court case. When you are a big firm lawyer, you get used to having someone else carry the evidence case and the pleadings.

      The fact that Dylan Ward is using his criminal lawyer from the obstruction case says a lot to me, although Ward’s lawyers have a lot more civil experience than many criminal defense lawyers would have.

      Regan and Spagnoletti have been on opposite sides in a wrongful death case before. Regan prevailed, winning a $5 million judgment against the District in connection with a swimming pool accident.

      • Liam
        07/08/2010 at 11:46 PM

        Actually, I’ve been wondering what the fact that Ward is using his criminal attorney does say.

        Does it say that Ward is giving up and doesn’t care to hire a civil litigator? Does it say that Ward believes that his criminal team is just as capable of civil litigation (after all, they “won” the criminal case)? Does it say that because Ward is apparently paying out of his (parent’s) pocket and does not have homeowner’s insurance, he’ll stick with his criminal attorney who also does civil work and is completely familiar with the case and does not have to come up to speed like the new attorneys representing JP and Vb.

        Also, I’ve never understood why different attorneys are necessary in RELATED criminal and civil cases such as this one and the OJ case. Aren’t the issues basically the same?

        Oh well, I guess I’m pretty useless regarding providing any answers and only have questions.

        • chilaw79
          07/08/2010 at 11:57 PM

          There’s no question in my mind that Spagnoletti has the background and the smarts to handle the civil case (as well as the criminal case). He also is up to speed on the facts (and knows what evidence was excluded in the criminal case that might come in during a civil case).

          Many lawyers would not know the ins and outs of both criminal and civil litigation. You definitely want someone handling a criminal case who is in the trenches everyday and who knows what issues are being raised by smart defense lawyers, to be preserved for appeal. For example, you would want a criminal lawyer who knew the Crawford case was coming up to the Supreme Court, preserve your rights, and hope for the Supreme Court to rule the way it did. That way, you would be set with a reviewable issue for appeal if the Supreme Court ruled the way it did.

          Also, a criminal defense lawyer would be in a better position to argue the self-incrimination issues that could be raised here.

          • Bea
            07/09/2010 at 8:56 AM

            I’m off on vacation for a bit but thought I’d drop by for some quick reading. One question: does someone like Dylan really benefit by paying tens possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars in a civil trial to avoid a judgment that he’s likely not able to pay? Can’t imagine that the long arm of the law is able to do much when one is being paid in cash for massages.

            • Bill 2
              07/09/2010 at 9:08 AM

              Legal fees probably don’t matter to someone who lets his father pay the lawyers.

            • AnnaZed
              07/09/2010 at 9:58 AM

              Bea, have a lovely and well-deserved break from all of this.

              I think that Dylan’s need to defend himself adequately in the civil case has much to do with protecting his inheritance.

            • Craig
              07/09/2010 at 10:11 AM

              Vacation? I don’t recall anyone on this end signing off on that. 🙂 Travel safe.

    • Kate
      07/09/2010 at 9:39 AM

      “Eleven attorneys at five separate firms” – there’s going to be a large number of billable hours for the defense team.

      Here’s my pecuniary question of the day: Are Price and Zaborsky paying for their lawyers from their own pockets or will their insurance companies cover the costs?

      As Mr. Regan said, it’s going to be difficult for the Wone family to ever see any financial recompense. Even though the Wones are pursuing this case in order to find justice for Robert’s death, it would certainly be grand if they got something from these guys.

      I also have another question for our lawyer friends: can a jury in a civil case find different levels of liability for the three defendants or will this be an all or nothing case?

      I apologize if this question was discussed earlier, I was away from my computer most of the holiday week.

      Many thanks,
      Kate

  9. deduce
    07/17/2010 at 11:01 AM

    for all the derision about the ‘trouple’ arrangement, here’s the latest on gay male norms in relationships. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=%2Fc%2Fa%2F2010%2F07%2F15%2FDD4C1EDP1A.DTL

    • carolina
      07/17/2010 at 11:07 AM

      It was less derision about trouples and more about THIS trouple. To have articles written about you as a couple and the marvelous relationship you share, all the while having your dom living with you and leaving your partner home on your anniversary is going to invite some cynicism, even without the dead body in the parlor.

      • Clio
        07/17/2010 at 1:38 PM

        I agree, Carolina.

        Accommodating Dyl probably allowed Joe and Vic to register as partners in 2006, yet Dyl’s expressed desire to supplant Vic is not what most “open” people do. And, while Joe was allowed to fool around with Dyl, neighbors, strangers, etc., I am sure that that freedom was not accorded to Victor, even if he had wanted it. Finally, while Dyl’s independence first attracted the dilletante to Culuket, Joe was hell-bent on keeping Dyl connected and dependent upon him. It was/is all about Mr. Price!

Comments are closed.