D.I.Y.

And Coming Attractions

So you want to be a wmrw stringer?  The line forms at the left.

It’s been nearly a month since Judge Lynn Leibovitz handed down her verdict in US v. Price, Ward and Zaborsky.  Much of what was presented and discovered during the criminal could very well be in play for the civil case.

We hope to archive and catalogue as much of the evidence and exhibits as possible and will spend the month of August starting to compile what’s available.  Which for us means repeated trips to the Superior Court clerk’s office, possible FOIA requests and perhaps going so far as depending on the kindness of strangers readers.

Perhaps the most commented-on exhibits during the trial were the videotaped interviews of the witnesses suspects defendants at the MPD’s Violent Crimes Branch in the early morning hours after Robert’s murder.  The entire set of interviews was played in open court and portions of what have become known as the ‘Anacostia Dialogues,’ were offered by the local media.

We were not included in that first round of distribution and to make up for being late to the party, we will begin streaming the entire set of interviews from that evening.  

We expect to kick it off by screening the Ward (or maybe Zaborsky) tapes first thing Monday.

The remainder of the documents from the criminal case and any new motions that will surface in the civil are not expected to be nearly as anticipated as the interviews.  But they are critical to the understanding of this crime and case.

For those who’ve never had the chance to wander down to the Moultrie Courthouse, and to the clerk’s office in particular, Superior Court does offer a mostly-working remote database of records so users can search from the comfort of their own pajamas.  When punching up the site, expect to see this, however:

Remote Access to Superior Court Dockets

IMPORTANT MESSAGE FOR ALL USERS
The Remote Access to Superior Court Dockets System has been having performance and stability problems. We are aware that this has caused frustration to many of the system users. We are actively working to improve it and we appreciate your patience.

Patient we are.  Mostly.  The site works well, better during the off hours and on weekends that during prime-time business hours.  It’s searchable by name and case number.  In this case, the case is: 2008 CA 008315.  But unlike some jurisdictions that allow users to download the documents, the DC site only offers an index of the motions and orders that have been filed.  Getting the actual documents still requires a trip to Judiciary Square and a ride up to the fifth floor clerk’s office.

Inside the drab, smallish clerk’s office you’ll find a couple of Commodore 64 terminals and printers to use.  But bring your own copy paper for any printing needs.  There’s usually a cool guy up there named Kenny who can help out with any questions.  Document in hand, the next stop is a scanner to turn the pages into .pdf files.

We try to check the database daily, but always welcome more eyes on the server.   Of course any tips and heads ups are welcome.  It’s best to drop us a line directly rather than post in the comments section.   The pit boss on duty that day will give full credit to the stringer, and comps to the showroom and buffet, too.  [Ed note: the late show gets a little blue]

There hasn’t been much added to the Wone civil case file since Judge Brook Hedge’s order lifted the stay on the case, but anyone can see the long and winding legal road this nascent case has taken so far, with the first entry being the November 25, 2008 filing of the complaint.  Here’s what been entered so far:

07/07/2010  Additional eFiling Document to Order Lifting Stay and Requesting Proposed Schedule submitted 07/07/2010 10:05.dcm. Signed by Judge Hedge on July 7, 2010 Nunc Pro Tunc to July 6, 2010.    
07/07/2010  Order Lifting Stay and Requesting Proposed Schedule submitted 07/07/2010 10:05.dcm. Signed by Judge Hedge on July 7, 2010 Nunc Pro Tunc to July 6, 2010.    
07/07/2010  Order Lifting Stay and Requesting Proposed Schedule re-signed in chambers, re-efiled, eserved and docketed 07/07/2010. (ph).    

07/06/2010  Stay Lifted per Order of Judge Hedge on 07/06/2010. . (ph).    
07/06/2010  Order Lifting Stay and Requesting Proposed Schedule signed in chambers by Judge Hedge efiled, eserved and docketed 07/06/2010. (ph). Copies of the Order deposited in the Court’s mail to Attorney Sean Edwards and Attorney Heather Nelson 07/06/2010. (ph). 

11/30/2009  Event Scheduled Event: Status Hearing Date: 09/10/2010 Time: 9:45 am Judge: HEDGE, BROOK Location: Courtroom 517
11/30/2009  Notice of Hearing Mailed Next Business Day Notice Of Hearing Sent on: 11/30/2009

09/18/2009  Event Resulted: The following event: Status Hearing scheduled for 09/18/2009 at 10:00 am has been resulted as follows: Result: Status Conference Held Courtsmart #517. Parties present. Attorney Regan for the plaintiff and Attorney Roswell for the defendant. Representation from all parties heard by the Court. Parties have (45) forty five days from the Jury Verdict in the criminal trial to complete all discovery in the Civil Case and (75) seventy five days from the Jury Verdict in the criminal trial to complete deposition for both sides in the Civil Case. No new date set at this time. Judge Hedge (ph). Judge: HEDGE, BROOK Location: Courtroom 517 Mr CRAIG D ROSWELL (Attorney) on behalf of JOSEPH R PRICE (Defendant) Participant(s): Judge BROOK HEDGE

09/17/2009  Plaintiff Estate of Robert E. Wone’s Status Report filed submitted. 09/17/2009 19:23. plt. Attorney: SULEIMAN, DANIEL M (495975) ESTATE OF ROBERT E WONE, KATHERINE E. WONE (PLAINTIFF);
09/17/2009  Defendant’s Joint Status Report Filed. submitted 09/17/2009 14:20. ksc Attorney: ROSWELL, Mr CRAIG D (433406) JOSEPH R PRICE (Defendant); VICTOR ZABORSKY (Defendant); DYLAN WARD (Defendant);

02/26/2009  Answer to Complaint. Filed. Submitted. 02/26/2009 13:26. ncv. Attorney: SCHERTLER, Mr DAVID (367203) DYLAN WARD (Defendant);
02/26/2009  Stay Entered
02/26/2009  Proof of Service to Order Granting Joint Motion to Stay Civil Proceedings Pending Criminal Prosecution signed by J/Hedge on 02/26/09. submitted 02/26/2009
02/26/2009  Order Granting Joint Motion to Stay Civil Proceedings Pending Criminal Prosecution signed by J/Hedge on 02/26/09. submitted 02/26/2009  Event Scheduled Event: Status Hearing Date: 09/18/2009 Time: 10:00 am Judge: HEDGE, BROOK Location: Courtroom 517
02/26/2009  Event Resulted: The following event: Initial Scheduling Conference-60 scheduled for 02/27/2009 at 9:00 am has been resulted as follows: Result: Scheduling Conference Hearing Vacated Judge: HEDGE, BROOK Location: Courtroom 517
02/26/2009  Order Granting Motion for Admission Pro Hac Vice signed by Judge Hedge, efiled, eserved, and docketed in chambers 2/26/09. FOR IMAGE see Order Granting Defendants’ Joint Motion to Stay Civil Proceedings Pending Criminal Prosecution of same date. rns
02/26/2009  Order Denying Without Prejudice Defendants’ Joint Motion for Protective Order signed by Judge Hedge, efiled, eserved, and docketed in chambers 2/26/09. FOR IMAGE see Order Granting Defendants’ Joint Motion to Stay Civil Proceedings Pending Criminal Prosecution of same date. rns
02/26/2009  Order Denying Without Prejudice Plaintiff’s Motion for Issuance of a Commission Asking the Supreme Court of New York, New York County, to Issue a Subpoena Compelling Verizon Communications Inc. to Produce Defendants’ Telephone and Email Records signed by Judge Hedge, efiled, eserved, and docketed in chambers 2/26/09. FOR IMAGE see Order Granting Defendants’ Joint Motion to Stay Civil Proceedings Pending Criminal Prosecution of same date. rns
02/26/2009  Order Granting Defendants’ Joint Motion to Stay Civil Proceedings Pending Criminal Prosecution signed by Judge Hedge, efiled, eserved, and docketed in chambers 2/26/09. The instant civil proceedings are STAYED in their entirety, and no activity pursuant to this action, including third party discovery, may proceed until the criminal prosecutions pending against defendants are concluded at the trial level. The stay does not extend through appeals or post-judgment motions. rns

02/25/2009  Additional eFiling Document to Motion for Admission Pro Hac Vice Filed submitted 02/25/2009 14:17 wjw. Attorney: MILLER, Ms LARISSA N N (472431) 02/25/2009
02/25/2009  Motion for Admission Pro Hac Vice Filed submitted 02/25/2009 14:17 wjw. Attorney: MILLER, Ms LARISSA N N (472431) Receipt: 127532 Date: 02/26/2009

02/20/2009  Defendant’s Joint Consolidated Reply to Plaintiff’s Opposition to Motion to Stay and for a Protective Order Filed. Submitted 02/20/2009 18:19. ts. Attorney: ROSWELL, Mr CRAIG D

02/19/2009  Additional eFiling Document to Plaintiff’s Motion for Issuance of a Commission Asking the Supreme Court of New York, New York County, to Issue a Subpoena Compelling Verizon Communications Inc. to Produce Defendants’ Telephone and EMail Records from the Relevant Time Period submitted 02/19/2009 16:41. ajm Attorney: RAZI, Mr BENJAMIN J
02/19/2009  Plaintiff’s Motion for Issuance of a Commission Asking the Supreme Court of New York, New York County, to Issue a Subpoena Compelling Verizon Communications Inc. to Produce Defendants’ Telephone and EMail Records from the Relevant Time Period Filed. Submitted 02/19/2009 16:41. ajm Attorney: RAZI, Mr BENJAMIN J  ESTATE OF ROBERT E WONE (PLAINTIFF); Receipt: 127033 Date:

02/11/2009  Affidavit of Benjamin J. Razi in Support of Plaintiff’s Consolidated Opposition to Defendants Motions to Stay and for a Protective Order. Attorney: RAZI, Mr. BENJAMIN J
02/11/2009  Plaintiff’s Consolidated Opposition to Defendants Motions to Stay and for a Protective Order Filed submitted 02/11/2009 16:26 wow. Attorney: RAZI, Mr. BENJAMIN J
02/10/2009  Praecipe to Withdraw Filed. submitted 02/10/2009 13:26. tw Attorney: ROSWELL, Mr CRAIG D (433406) JOSEPH R PRICE (Defendant); VICTOR ZABORSKY (Defendant);

02/03/2009  Proof of Servcie to Order Granting Consent Motion Regarding Briefing Schedule Submitted 02/03/2009 15:39. Signed by Judge Hedge on 2/3/09. ts. Attorney: HEDGE, Honorable BROOK
02/03/2009  Order Granting Consent Motion Regarding Briefing Schedule Submitted 02/03/2009 15:39. Signed by Judge Hedge on 2/3/09. ts. Attorney: HEDGE, Honorable BROOK (203166)

01/30/2009  Additional eFiling Document to Motion to Quash Subpoena Duces Tecum, Or in the Alternative, for Protective Order. Filed. Submitted. 01/30/2009 22:27. ars. Attorney: ROSWELL, Mr CRAIG D
01/30/2009  Motion to Quash Subpoena Duces Tecum, Or in the Alternative, for Protective Order. Filed. Submitted. 01/30/2009 22:27. ars. Attorney: ROSWELL, Mr CRAIG D (433406) JOSEPH R PRICE (Defendant); VICTOR ZABORSKY (Defendant); DYLAN WARD (Defendant); Receipt: 125494 Date: 02/03/2009

01/27/2009  Answer of Defendant Joseph R. Price to Complaint Filed. submitted 01/27/2009 14:54. cms Attorney: ROSWELL, Mr CRAIG D (433406) JOSEPH R PRICE (Defendant);

01/23/2009  Additional eFiling Document to Joint Motion for Protective Order Filed. submitted 01/23/2009 16:36. ksc Attorney: ROSWELL, Mr CRAIG D (433406) JOSEPH R PRICE (Defendant); VICTOR ZABORSKY (Defendant); DYLAN WARD (Defendant);
01/23/2009  Joint Motion for Protective Order Filed. submitted 01/23/2009 16:36. ksc Attorney: ROSWELL, Mr CRAIG D (433406) JOSEPH R PRICE (Defendant); VICTOR ZABORSKY (Defendant); DYLAN WARD (Defendant); Receipt: 124763 Date: 01/27/2009

12/18/2008  Order Extending Defendant’s Time To Respond signed by J/Hedge on 12/18/2008. submitted 12/18/2008

12/10/2008  Joint Consent Motion for Extension of Time for Defendants to Respond Filed. Submitted 12/10/2008 14:49 jhc. Attorney: SCHERTLER, DAVID (367203) DYLAN WARD (Defendant); Receipt: 121785 Date: 12/11/2008

12/08/2008  Affidavit of Service of Summons & Complaint on VICTOR ZABORSKY (Defendant);
12/08/2008  Proof of Service Method : Service Issued Issued : 11/26/2008 Service : Summons Issued Served : 11/26/2008 Return : 12/08/2008 On : PRICE, JOSEPH R Signed By : Bernard S. Grimm Reason : Proof of Service Comment : Tracking #: 5000055596
12/08/2008  Affidavit of Service of Summons & Complaint on JOSEPH R PRICE (Defendant);
12/08/2008  Proof of Service Method : Service Issued Issued : 11/26/2008 Service : Summons Issued Served : 12/04/2008 Return : 12/08/2008 On : WARD, DYLAN Signed By : David Schertler Reason : Proof of Service Comment : Tracking #: 5000055598

11/26/2008  Issue Date: 11/26/2008 Service: Summons Issued Method: Service Issued Cost Per: $ PRICE, JOSEPH R 1509 Swan Street, NW WASHINGTON, DC 20009 Tracking No: 5000055596 ZABORSKY, VICTOR 1509 Swan Street, NW WASHINGTON, DC 20009 Tracking No: 5000055597 WARD, DYLAN 550 NE 9th Street MIAMI, FL 33138 Tracking No: 5000055598

11/25/2008  Complaint for Wrongful Death Filed Attorney: RAZI, Mr BENJAMIN J (475946) ESTATE OF ROBERT E WONE (PLAINTIFF); Receipt: 120530 Date: 11/25/2008

-posted by Craig

103 comments for “D.I.Y.

  1. chilaw79
    07/23/2010 at 11:45 AM

    I started playing with the shiny objects and ended up looking at the criminal case. There was an entry on June 15, 2010 that caught my eye. It involves a motion in limine relating to “late produced telephone records” filed by the defendants.

    Does anyone have any insight on this? I tracked back to the June 15 reports and did not find any mention of this in WMRW.

    • Bruce
      07/23/2010 at 11:59 AM

      Good eye, Chilaw. Looks to me that with the exception of the stay order, and possibly what Chilaw spotted, the civil court file contains a lot of nothing.

      Unfortunately, depositions will unlikely become available for our viewing because they are not filed with the court and do not become a part of the court record. Same as to answers to interrogatories and documents produced. [Am I correct on all this, DC lawyers?]

      • Craig
        07/23/2010 at 12:07 PM

        So I assume that interrogs and depos, not being part of the court record, are not sealed. Can either side choose to release them unilaterally or must agreement be reached by both sides?

        Bruce: How much longer are we going to wait for you to take the DC bar exam? 🙂

        • chilaw79
          07/23/2010 at 12:20 PM

          Absent a court order, information produced in discovery is not sealed. Parties can provide discovery documents to non-parties. Some judges might take a dim view of this.

      • chilaw79
        07/23/2010 at 12:17 PM

        Pretty much. Until you get to a motion for summary judgment, the pre-trial conference or unless there are major discovery motions, the discovery process is pretty opaque (except to the parties).

        It does not surprise me that the civil case is pretty undeveloped since discovery was stayed in light of the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Of course, it is not as if the defendants have no Fifth Amendment concerns now, but they are not under arrest or indictment. I think this means they have to walk a fine line in connection with interrogatories and depositions; otherwise, they risk leaving a road map about what areas are sensitive.

    • David
      07/23/2010 at 1:31 PM

      Chilaw79,

      We picked it up during the trial — it has to do with the phone records during the time of October 30 burglary of the 1509 Swann Street residence. Also another motion that was filed by the defense towards the end of the trial stated that Robert’s DNA was found on one of the folded towels. This was never entered as evidence in the trial because of Rule 16 issues, if I am correct.

      David, co-ed

      • chilaw79
        07/23/2010 at 1:41 PM

        I guess the phone records go to the issue of whether the other defendants may have been deferring to Joe Price in deciding whether to report the burglary. The records presumably show telephone calls back and forth between the various defendants, I assume.

        The DNA on the folded towels might have supported the defense contention that Robert showered/washed up and then neatly folded the towel and put it back over the chair.

        • David
          07/23/2010 at 1:50 PM

          Chilaw79 —

          Your analysis is the way I read the motions as well.

          David, co-ed

        • CDinDC (Boycott BP)
          07/23/2010 at 3:34 PM

          So, if Robert showered and took the time to neatly fold the towel and place it over the chair, why would he have left his clothing tossed on the floor?

          The prosecution pointed out Robert’s fastidious nature on the first day of trial, and pointed this out.

          • carolina
            07/23/2010 at 10:14 PM

            I’d like to know where and how much DNA they found. I wonder if the prosecution tested the towels, as well.

          • chilaw79
            07/23/2010 at 10:53 PM

            I have been trying to go back and locate the discussion of the state of Robert’s clothes when the EMTs arrived.

            I know Kathy Wone testified that Robert was fastidious about his clothing. Do we know what he was wearing when he arrived at Swann Street and whether his clothes were neatly folded or left in a heap on the floor (which is inconsistent with Kathy Wone’s testimony of Robert’s habits)? I think I have read both versions, and could not find a definitive answer (although I am still looking).

            It is not clear to me that any defense DNA reports not used at trial would be discoverable (primarily on attorney-client privilege or work product basis).

            • CDinDC (Boycott BP)
              07/23/2010 at 11:49 PM

              Chi, the Eds’ “Day One” post mentions that the prosecution question Kathy Wone about Roberts fastidious nature and pointed out that Robert’s clothes were tossed on the floor.

            • Jeana
              07/24/2010 at 10:57 AM

              chilaw –

              Your post reminds me of a question raised by AnnaZed in a recent previous thread as to why the police were looking for ‘the decedent’s clothing’ in the search of the Lee Street(?) house. Presumably Kathy would remember what she packed for Robert – since it was only an overnite stay, although she may not have known (or known at the time the police initially spoke to her) exactly what he was wearing when he left for work the prevous morning. Another poster (I think in the same thread) questioned whether the W&M tee shirt he was found in was actually his. Interesting.

              • chilaw79
                07/24/2010 at 12:53 PM

                Wouldn’t the person who went with him to the DC Bar continuing legal education (CLE) program or his colleagues at Radio Free Asia remember what Robert was wearing, at least to say whether it was a suit, or khakis and a polo shirt, or a William and Mary t-shirt?

                If the clothes were left on the floor, it does not sound like something Robert would do. That is not to say it could not have happened, but it seems unlikely. Most of us are creatures of habit. Kathy Wone would be in the best position to evaluate this.

  2. interestedobserver
    07/23/2010 at 12:02 PM

    True, unless there is a motion to compel. A motion to compel will usually have attached the deficient discovery responses or the portion of the deposition transcript at issue.

  3. Rich
    07/23/2010 at 12:54 PM

    And, D.I.Y. means….?

    “Do it Yourself?

  4. Hoya Loya
    07/23/2010 at 1:56 PM

    Yep.

    “You want some control — you’ve got to keep it small
    D.I.Y. (do it yourself)”

  5. chilaw79
    07/23/2010 at 2:02 PM

    By the way, the movie offerings yesterday for those called for jury duty at Moultrie were Sabrina (NOT the classic version with Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart and the Givenchy dresses for which Edith Head was given the Academy Award, but the Julia Ormond, Harrison Ford remake) and My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

    Between the 8 am starting time and the heat, I could not bear to stay at Moultrie longer than my required stay. I’m game for another trip, though, especially during these dog days of summer.

    • Craig
      07/23/2010 at 2:37 PM

      It’s comments like this that make the work here more rewarding. Knowing that Sabrina was screened in the Moultrie jurors’ lounge and that we actually have tags for Billy Wilder.

      • Deb
        07/23/2010 at 3:40 PM

        I understand your prior curiosity now, Craig. Since you have a tag for one of the greatest directors ever . . . I will try to help capture docs as I’m able. The unfortunate thing is that we farm so much out. But I do have a few friends.
        Peace,
        Deb

        • Craig
          07/23/2010 at 4:58 PM

          Thanks Deb. I seem to recall we have a Kubrick tag too.

          We mostly have Moultrie covered but certainly welcome the extra eyes, arms and legs when we’re otherwise distracted.

          • chilaw79
            07/23/2010 at 9:15 PM

            I don’t believe Twelve Angry Men is ever shown at Moultrie.

            • Three Strikes
              07/23/2010 at 10:40 PM

              Nor will you likely see ‘Nightmare of Swann Street’.

              • Three Strikes
                07/23/2010 at 10:43 PM

                Correction:
                Nightmare ON Swann Street

                • Deb
                  07/24/2010 at 12:16 PM

                  Or Runaway Jury

                  • Clio
                    07/24/2010 at 5:43 PM

                    Or Room with a View.

                    • Kate
                      07/26/2010 at 10:34 AM

                      Or, The Oxbow Incident.

      • chilaw79
        07/23/2010 at 10:55 PM

        The other film reference during the day occurred when the clerk called the name “Bueller” when requesting jurors for a panel. The assembled prospective jurors laughed.

  6. Rick
    07/23/2010 at 7:32 PM

    Just want “lawyers” present here to know how much I appreciate your explanations of the legal terms. Please remember your comments are being read by some of us who don’t know what the difference is between a Motion to Quash Subpoena Duces Tecum and Proof of Servcie to Order Granting Consent Motion Regarding Briefing Schedule…do lawyers really talk like this?

    Anyway…thanks for helping us non-legal folks!

    Rick

    • chilaw79
      07/23/2010 at 9:12 PM

      Yes, we really do talk that way.

      I think most of us try to explain legal terms, but if you have a question, by all means ask.

      • Rich
        07/23/2010 at 10:36 PM

        Dear Chi Law:

        Do you think the majority of the posters on this site are attorney’s?

        I know, I get often get lost over the dialogue.

        • chilaw79
          07/23/2010 at 10:47 PM

          I have no idea. I think a significant percentage are either lawyers or folks who are used to dealing with legal issues (whether through reading or as clients).

          I am sure those of us who are lawyers are happy to entertain questions. I am just trying to figure out how to get my posting qualified as part of my mandatory continuing legal education requirement. I have read more criminal law cases in the last couple of months than I have since the early 1980’s.

      • 07/23/2010 at 11:29 PM

        I’ll bite. I am not an attorney; even worse, I have never watched TV shows that seem to make people feel they COULD be attorneys. I am worried that I won’t be able to follow the coming case, because I know less about civil law than about criminal law. In our “down time” — evidence some of the posts recently that have nothing to do with anything but getting one’s name seen — we nonattorneys could prepare by studying up. I had asked our editors to suggest this as a community effort, but no reply. So I’ll try:

        Attorneys: Could you, as individuals or a few of you working together, prepare the rest of us with a primer on civil law, as seems relevant to the Wone case, to get us started? A brief reading list with URLs; a glossary of terms; an outline (maybe excerpted from a standard textbook). I was able to follow almost everything in the criminal case (minus “the truth” — I gave up on that), but I can tell already that I’m going to be lost once we wade into civil law. I can help to organize it; the editors know how to find me. HELP!! Thanks.

        • Rich
          07/23/2010 at 11:44 PM

          Ease us into it.

          So much of it is, well, Boring!

          Maybe, I mean, tedious.

          Every one sentance requires a nine paragraph analysis. 🙁

          It’s tough reading.

        • chilaw79
          07/23/2010 at 11:50 PM

          Gloria,

          You are an intelligent person and you will be able to follow it with no problem. It is going to be much like the criminal case since it stems from the same basic set of facts. The big difference is the standard applied to those facts. In a criminal case, the standard is “beyond a reasonable doubt.” In a civil case, the standard is “the preponderance of the evidence” or whether it is “more likely than not” that the plaintiff’s version of the facts is true. The plaintiff has requested a jury so the jury will decide whether the standard is met.

          The complaint sets out the torts (or wrongs) the defendants are accused of committing, including the wrongful death of Robert Wone, the failure to provide him with medical care, and the “spoliation” or alteration/destruction of evidence. The plaintiff is seeking $20 million in damages, although I think what she really wants is the truth. Since Robert had a job and was an attorney, establishing damages will be easier than it might be with another victim.

          The case is now in discovery. The parties get to ask either questions and to obtain production of relevant documents. The three defendants and many other witnesses will be deposed. This is done outside of court before a court stenographer. The parties will obtain documents, including police reports, the videotapes, the coroner’s report, the hospital records, the EMT runs, telephone records, e-mails, photographs, and other materials. The plaintiff also can find and question new witnesses that did not testify in the criminal case. A lot of what happens in discovery goes on outside a court room. We may not know a lot about this stage of the case.

          The trial will be a lot like the criminal trial, except that the focus will be on establishing that the defendants “negligently, recklessly or willfully” caused the death of Robert Wone.

          • Rich
            07/24/2010 at 12:03 AM

            Dear Chi:

            That was actually easy to follow.

            Let’s manage the entire Civil Suit discussion in this fashion.

            Fat Chance That Will happen! 🙂

            • 07/24/2010 at 12:44 AM

              Deceptively easy! (Although I now think I know what “tort” means — that is, until the exceptions and exclusions start flying.) I am assembling questions generated by Chilaw’s clear as a bell (uh oh) explanation. To start: Is there a standard against which to determine the wrongs — “negligence” or “spoilation,” as two examples? Presumably, the law cannot regularize (wrong wrong) every possible “wrong” in statute, so what standard is used by the judge/jury? Anything objective or is this strictly subjective? And to what extent do the acquittals overlap the civil charges? That is, can they be held responsible for actions (or lack of same) for which they were already acquitted? Isn’t that double jeopardy, even if the charges are phrased differently? I ask because “tampering” seems to overlap “spoilation.” Is there an issue about whether the 3 could or would be “tried” (is that the right word?) separately vs. yoked as before, especially since Judge L made a distinction among the 3 in her finding (Joe vs the other two)? Lots of questions and I don’t even know what I don’t know. Chilaw, smooch. Oh that it all would be so clear, without estoppels, etc.

              • Rich
                07/24/2010 at 10:17 AM

                Estoppels?

                Gloria, we were ahead with Chi’s post.

                Now, we’re approaching the compexities of a legal discussion.

                Why not just listen to the unfolding of the Civl Case and simply say, “Okay,” when it’s over?

              • chilaw79
                07/24/2010 at 1:16 PM

                In DC, the standards by which a determination of whether a particular tort has been committed generally are set out in court decisions, although there is a wrongful death statute. Each tort has certain elements that must be established by the plaintiff (Kathy Wone, as Executor of Robert’s estate). At some point, I will try to determine the elements of each tort and blog about them.

                A person can be subject to both criminal and civil liability for the same actions. This is not “double jeopardy” since double jeopardy is a Constitutional concept that means you cannot be tried twice in criminal court for the same criminal act. (In other words, no re-trials if you are acquitted, even if new evidence comes to light. That is one reason why the prosecutors are not filing murder charges–they only get one bite at the apple.)

                There is some overlap between the crimes of which the defendants were acquitted and the torts alleged. You’re right that the alleged tort of “spoliation of evidence” is similar to tampering with evidence. I have not seen “spoliation of evidence” alleged as a separate tort before in DC. Usually, when a defendant alters or destroys evidence, the plaintiff asks the court to give the jury an instruction that the defendant’s alteration or (more typically) destruction of evidence should be used to draw a negative inference that the evidence would have helped the plaintiff prove her case. However, Patrick Regan, one of the lawyers for Kathy Wone, has been at the forefront of having the tort of spoliation recognized as a separate tort.

                Of course, “wrongful death” has some similarities to murder or manslaughter and other similar crimes. I have been writing a bit about a wrongful death case where a burglar murdered a DC cardiologist who found the burglar in his home. The burglar, unlike many criminals, was rich. The cardiologist’s widow sued the burglar and the burglar’s girlfriend (who held title to the burglar’s home, automobiles, and other assets). The girlfriend did not participate in the burglary or the murder, but she had reason to know that her boyfriend was up to no good. She helped her boyfriend melt down gold and other precious metals, did his bookkeeping, and reported significant parts of his ill-gotten gains on her income tax return. (The cardiologist was the brother of author, David Halberstam, and the burglar, Bernard Welch (who used a variety of names, including Norm Hamilton) was known as the Standard Time Burglar. It is a fascinating case and often included in crime anthologies.)

                Since the case comes out of the same basic set of facts, I cannot see the defendant’s cases being tried (or heard) separately.

                I don’t think estoppel is going to be a big issue since I think Judge Leibowitz’ opinion generally will not be considered precedential. I would be surprised if the civil jury hears about it.

                • 07/24/2010 at 7:43 PM

                  Chilaw/Bruce: Don’t think I’m ungrateful for your patient and clear explanations. My thanks are lagging in time so my “comment” will attract a new set of readers, joining the site later in the day. I’m now hip to the blog-related phenomenon of a “tree falling in the forest when no one is around” (reading) so the timing of one’s post is important. I know I am getting a first class legal education for free. Can people still “read law” and take the bar exam, rather than attend dreary classes? “Senators (at my hearing for Supreme Court nomination), I owe it all to the bloggers on wmrw.com.”

                  • chilaw79
                    07/24/2010 at 8:15 PM

                    I think your options with respect to admission to the bar are limited, but the good news is that there are no requirements set forth in the U. S. Constitution to be a member of the U. S. Supreme Court. So, go for it, Gloria! If I get elected to the U. S. Senate when DC becomes the 53rd state, I will vote for you.

              • chilaw79
                07/24/2010 at 3:07 PM

                DC, like many other states, usually looks to the “common law” to determine what is a tort or wrong. Law students usually take “torts” as a subject to learn the basics.

                However, some torts are written down in statutes. DC has a Wrongful Death Act. The DC Wrongful Death Act states:

                “When, by an injury done or happening within the limits of the District, the death of a person is caused by a wrongful act, neglect, or default of a person or corporation, and the act, neglect, or default is such as will, if death does not ensue, entitle the person injured…to maintain an action and recover damages, the person who or corporation that is liable if death does not ensue is liable to an action for damages for the death, notwithstanding the death of the person injured, even though the death is caused under circumstances that constitute a felony.”

                The Wrongful Death Act permits the estate of someone who dies to sue for lost future earnings and other damages.

                There are a host of potential torts, some of which may constitute felonies, that could be alleged. Wrongful death actions have been brought in cases where the person who died was shot or strangled, fell down an elevator shaft, was hit by a Metro bus, or died of tainted blood received in a transfusion. Some of these torts constitute negligence or medical malpractice; others could be felonies. The wrongful death statute makes it clear this does not matter.

                Death must occur from an injury done in DC. If Robert was stabbed at 1509 Swann Street and died from those injuries, the location requirement is met. It also seems clear he died from the stab wounds. Were there other torts? If Robert was given drugs or sexually assaulted/restrained without his consent, these acts could be wrongful acts. As you can see, this could give the plaintiff an opportunity to explore a host of areas that the criminal court case did not address.

          • Bruce
            07/24/2010 at 3:32 PM

            Hi Chilaw:

            Great explanations for the undamaged (meaning: non-lawyers). It is a fact that lawyers do use a different language. You did great with your posts to try to cut through the jargon.

            Just have one thing I would like to expound upon from your post, wherein you said that: “The plaintiff is seeking $20 million in damages, although I think what she really wants is the truth.”

            Uh oh, you used the “truth” word!!!

            I know exactly what you mean, and I agree that I think that is a motivation for Mrs. Wone, of course, but I just want to caution people, especially non-lawyers, that they will be very disappointed if they, like possibly Mrs. Wone, think that the criminal case or the civil case determines “truth” of what happened that night in August, 2006.

            Without uncoerced free confessions from the Swann 3, we will never know the “truth.” Only the Swann 3 know the “truth,” possibly only one or a combination.

            I am in a small minority, I believe, on this blog, in that I don’t rule out the Swann 3’s innocence, although my gut tells me, and I do “think,” that one or more are guilty of the criminal charges.

            I realize that this is a tricky thing to do. I usually don’t see things as “black” or “white,” but gray. I understand where I could be called “wishy washy” as to this, but I’m sorry, just the way I am. Blame law school.

            A civil trial does not determine the “truth.” Just like a criminal trial, a civil jury trial is a process of “justice” under our (some people think fine, others think seriously flawed) court system in the US. Other countries have other ways of trying to find “justice.”

            Simply stated, the jurors in the civil case will have to come to a conclusion (all twelve will have to agree) as to whether one or more of the defendants are “guilty” or “not guilty” of the counts enumerated in the civil complaint under the “preponderence of the evidence” standard. This is definatley not a “truthiness standard.”

            12 people (or six)–what ever DC law allows for the number of jurors, plus at least one alternate juror, will make that determination in the civil trial. If they can’t, there will be a “hung jury” with no verdict, and the plaintiff will have to decide whether to go through the expense of re-trying the case with a different jury.

            So, just a caution and probably useless exposition on “truth” in this matter. As the civil case proceeds, I bet there will be no lack of information for non-lawyers to follow on this blog, to give them a better understanding of the civil process.

            • chilaw79
              07/24/2010 at 4:20 PM

              Bruce,

              I take your point and appreciate what you are saying, especially since the language I used is a little dramatic and not precise. I do think Kathy Wone wants to try to find out what happened. I agree that what she finds out may not be the “truth,” particularly if the defendants do not answer all the questions posed to them.

              The verdict will be what the jurors think the “truth” is and it will come only in the form of a verdict (although it will be “For the Plaintiff” or “For the Defendant”–as opposed to guilty or not guilty), unless the jurors decide to explain their reasoning. I also agree that the defendants may choose not to answer all the questions put to them.

              Whatever you think of my writings, I have not made up my mind about what the facts are. There are too many open issues. I think there are a number of plausible theories. I have to admit I do not find the “unknown intruder” theory very plausible.

              One thing that is sure (having just done my jury service in DC), I will not be one of the jurors, and would recuse myself if called.

              • Bruce
                07/24/2010 at 4:52 PM

                Hi Chilaw:

                While I can’t think of a better system, I can’t imagine putting my life, freedom or financial future in the hands of 12 people culled from the ranks “of the masses” to be jurors.

                I have gone several times to do my jury duty, but no one wanted me (sigh).

                I have tried a number of civil trials and have done the process of “voir dire” (in non-legalese, the process of picking a jury).

                I have come to the conclusion that a big impact upon your case is simply the luck of the draw in what you are presented as potential jurors in a case, and from which the 12 are picked.

                Sometimes, the potential jurors seem like intelligent free-thinkers (and I have been tempted, but of course haven’t, to suggest to the plaintiff’s attorney that he just pick 12, and lets move on to opening statements).

                Other times, the jury array that gets sent to your court room look like the only thing they want to do is “get the hell outta there” or get some sleep.

                This has absolutely nothing to do with education or employment or race. It is just the feel you get from body language and some strange or bizarre answers they may give to the judge or counsel during jury selection.

                If you are a defendant, you can only hope that you have a competent attorney who knows what he or she is doing in front of a jury.

                Let us all avoid doing crimes or being negligent. Drive your cars carefully! Don’t leave your swimming pools open and unattended.
                Don’t leave your swimming pools empty. Hey, don’t have a swimming pool!

                I have absolutely no interest in becoming a criminal. I drive carefully. Mostly, because I don’t want to cause harm to others. But, I also don’t want to be subject to a jury trial.

                While no longer facing imprisonment unless murder charges are brought, I expect that the defendants will be no less frightened by every day during the civil trial, looking at the 12 persons who will determine their financial future and reputation.

                Whether you think that is well deserved or not, is a question for another post.

                • Bruce
                  07/24/2010 at 5:15 PM

                  While I noted in the above post that my gut and my brain (“thinking”)thought the Swann 3 were more than likely guilty, I neglected to mention that my lower intestines have consistently felt that the Swann 3 are innocent.

                  • chilaw79
                    07/24/2010 at 5:36 PM

                    I am in awe of your ability to decipher your anatomical responses so precisely.

                • chilaw79
                  07/24/2010 at 5:33 PM

                  For better or for worse (and, in general, in my view, for the better), the jury system is what we have.

                  In most cases, I think jurors involved in the cases I tried reached the correct result–assuming that one side had to win and one had to lose. Frankly, most civil cases should be settled, but I do not think this one will be,

                  I have found the DC juries on which I have served to consist of people who paid attention and discussed the facts and the law with some intelligence. I think jurors have a good instinct for assessing credibility and they often can put themselves in the shoes of the plaintiff or defendant. DC juries have a reputation for being smart.

                  I did try a civil case to a jury in federal court in Chicago many years ago. I thought they did a good job.

                  I think the non-lawyers on this site will have some excellent insights before and as this case approaches a trial date and during its course. Determining how a jury will react to the manner in which a case is presented is part of the art of lawyering.

                • DavidR
                  07/25/2010 at 8:32 PM

                  I served on a jury in a civil trial some years ago in DC. As jurors, when deliberating, we hated the way the defendants attorny jumped up and down literally and yelled.

                  The case was against a university in DC that we felt had stolen an idea from an employee that had to do with the education of Indians. the employee was fired when he tried to shop his progrtam to other schools. All in all the trial took a week with experts telling us what income the employee would have earned if he had gotten the free education promised for the use of his program.

                  In the end it came down to us thinking his story was more likely true than not and the way he was browbeat by the schools attorney was horrible.

                  So in the jury room we had to decide if there was a contract and in DC there can be a verbal contract not necessarily one written and signed by the parties. We found that was the case and so then we had to decide what damages the plaintiff was due.

                  We all tossed out numbers. I said ok write all them down add them up and divide by 12. We awarded him 1.8 million in damages.

                  There may have been an appeal I do not know but it’s just little things like the attitude of the parties involved. The demenour of the witnesses and others in the case and when a monetary amount has to be determined it can be just easy arithmetic.

        • chilaw79
          07/26/2010 at 2:45 PM

          Gloria,

          I hope you will share with your fellow bloggers your insights into the VCB tapes. I thought your report on the trial testimony was very insightful.

          • 07/28/2010 at 11:15 AM

            Thank you for the compliment, Chilaw. I’ve just gotten my power restored after almost 3 days. Apart from plowing through gazillions of emails (and tossing out the contents of two freezers), I’m working backwards through wmrw postings to see what I missed since Sunday 3 pm when I entered the Stone Age. I hope to attend the civil trial, which explains why I’ve been concerned about my ability to understand the proceedings. Thank you so much for providing us the legal framework. I am cut and pasting into one document substantive comments about civil law; it will be my legal textbook.

            • chilaw79
              07/28/2010 at 11:35 AM

              Sorry you lost power, although that is probably the only thing that would get me to toss some of the stuff in my freezer. The only thing that never sits long in the freezer is ice cream.

              I am sure we will all be updating our legal education in the coming months.

  7. Rich
    07/23/2010 at 10:55 PM

    Dear Chi:

    Being a lawyer, I think you can make a good argument for it. 🙂

    (Continuing Legal Education.)

  8. chilaw79
    07/23/2010 at 11:34 PM

    Speaking of lawyers, I would be interested in hearing from some of our criminal law mavens (or, perhaps, securities lawyers) on the issue of “taking the Fifth” in the civil case.

    This does not come up very much in my practice. My basic understanding is that the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination can be asserted in a civil or administrative proceeding (and, of course, in a criminal case). In a civil case, a blanket assertion of privilege generally is frowned upon. However, if a witness believes the answer to a question “might tend to subject to criminal responsibility him who gives it,” the privilege against self-incrimination may be asserted. The basic issue is whether the response might form a link in the chain of establishing criminal responsibility.

    The privilege does not extend to past conduct that cannot be prosecuted because it is barred by the statute of limitations. There is no statute of limitations in DC for murder. The statute of limitations for felonies in the first or second degree is six years. For virtually all other criminal acts under DC law, the statute of limitations is three years.

    Of course, it seems equally clear that the privilege could not be asserted in a civil case as to evidence of crimes of which the defendants have been acquitted.

    This seems to set the stage for a conflict between the plaintiffs and the defendants, if the defendants believe their answers might tend to subject them to criminal responsibility for the murder of Robert Wone or for some other serious felony for which the statute of limitations is six years. Of course, the defendants have not been formally accused of the murder and certainly have not been arrested or indicted for murder. The U. S. Attorneys’ Office presented the theory that Michael Price committed the murder (although there was little or no evidence presented of this, other than Michael’s access to Swann Street).

    If the defendants assert the privilege, an inference may be drawn against them in the civil case–making it more likely that the plaintiff will win the case.

    Theoretically, the court could stay the proceedings, but the defendants have not requested a stay. It may be that the defendants are waiting for the actual depositions to determine a strategy.

    Any thoughts from anyone who is not on vacation or in a stupor from the heat on how this may shake out?

    • Jeana
      07/24/2010 at 10:41 AM

      chilaw –

      My crimlaw experience was long ago and far away, so I’m a tad rusty on the subject, and since I’ve never practiced in federal court, have no working knowledge of the federal rules. That said, I’ll take a crack at the Fifth Amendment issue!

      You’ve offered a fine explanation, and I’ll only add that in any dispute arising over whether a witness is entitled to the protection of the Fifth Amendment, the judge will hear argument from counsel and could order the witness to answer if s/he finds the invokation of the privilege is groundless. The witness would then be subject to contempt of court if s/he continues to refuse to anser. I believe the judge could be asked to make a ruling whether the privilege is invoked at trial, in deposition, or in answers to interrogatories.

      In a criminal context (for example where a witness called to testify before a grand jury inokes his/her Fifth Amendment privilege,) the state has the option of offering immunity from prosecution in order to compel an answer. I don’t know whether the state would have an interest in the civil case to step in with an offer of immunity. In this case, unless the US Atty’s office has substantial evidence not presented in the obstruction/tampering trial, none of the three is going to get immunity on a potential murder charge.

      You are right that the risk to the defendants in invoking the Fifth Amendment is substantial in that an inference can be drawn from their refusal to answer a question/series of questions. My guess is that their attorneys will try to reach some acommodation with Kathy Wone’s attorneys early on in an effort to limit questioning on ‘touchy’ issues. I doubt they’ll have much success.

      • chilaw79
        07/24/2010 at 1:21 PM

        Thanks for your fine additions. I would only note that the civil case will be heard in DC Superior Court and not federal court.

        I am not sure if Judge Brook Hedges has criminal law experience either, but she should bone up on the Fifth Amendment’s application in civil cases.

        Of course, the defendants could surprise me and answer each and every question put to them by Kathy Wone’s attorneys (without a grant of immunity). I really cannot see a potential grant of immunity for a murder. It is possible there is evidence that points to someone other than or more of the defendants as the murderer. The defendants are on record as saying the murder was committed by an unknown intruder.

  9. Rick
    07/24/2010 at 6:00 PM

    Bruce and Chilaw…thanks for taking the time to better explain some of the goings on with the civil trial coming up…I’m sure there are several more of the non-lawyers besides me reading this blog who sincerely your writings and time.

    • chilaw79
      07/24/2010 at 6:05 PM

      I can’t speak for Bruce, but when it comes to choosing between blogging and cleaning my desk (which I did work on today), I am likely to pick the former any time, especially when it is 100 degrees outside.

  10. chilaw79
    07/24/2010 at 6:08 PM

    For all you non-lawyers who are out there, what questions would you most like to ask a witness in this case? Name the witness (it does not have to be Joe, Victor, or Dylan) and provide your question. Don’t go all Perry Mason on us.

    What documents or other evidence would you most like to see?

    Who knows? Someone at Covington may be reading this blog.

    • Bill Orange
      07/24/2010 at 10:12 PM

      I know nothing at all about the process of obtaining a deposition. Can you depose the same person more than once?

      • chilaw79
        07/24/2010 at 11:08 PM

        Generally, no. A deposition is a question and answer session between counsel for a party and a witness. It typically is scheduled by an agreement. Counsel for the deposing party (say Covington) asks the questions and the witness answers. The questions and answers are written down by a court stenographer in a deposition transcript. The counsel who schedules the deposition gets the first shot and then counsel for other parties can question the witness. A deposition can last for days.

        Counsel for the witness may object to a question and tell his or her client not to answer. The witness also may claim a privilege, such as the Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination.

        If the parties cannot agree about whether a witness has to answer a question, the dispute goes to a judge. The judge then decides whether the witness must answer. As a result, there can be a second round of questioning.

        The same thing basically can happen with requests to produce documents or other evidence.

        • chilaw79
          07/24/2010 at 11:59 PM

          Bill,

          Let me add that the discovery process is supposed to eliminate the possibility of surprise or ambush at trial, and put the parties on equal footing in terms of the facts. This is particularly true here where Robert Wone is dead and the defendants may have information about his death.

          The defendants also can depose Kathy Wone and other witnesses. For example, the defendants could ask whether Robert had enemies or whether Robert was gay or used drugs. I think a lot of this could be precluded by Joe Price’s statements to the police about Robert. Also, there could be an attempt to develop some other theory (like the ninja assassin theory).

          Since you usually only have one (or two) chances to depose a party, you want to learn all you can before you depose them. Personally, I like to get the documents and other evidence first and study them before I start depositions, but that may just be me.

          • chilaw79
            07/26/2010 at 9:37 AM

            One more strategy issue:

            Some potential witnesses are “friendly” witnesses. You know what they will say, so you may not need to depose them and they may provide documents and other evidence voluntarily. This might include people like Ms. Ragone or Mr. Torchinsky.

            Other potential witnesses will not talk to you without a deposition subpoena. This might include people like Ms. Morgan, Michael Price, and others.

    • Bill Orange
      07/25/2010 at 10:59 AM

      I think I would start on the outside and work my way in. The last four people I deposed would be Sarah Morgan and the three defendants. I would want every single former trick and overnight houseguest to be deposed. Every single one of them needs to be asked about drugs and restraints. If three dozen people end up taking the fifth at trial when they’re asked, “Did you ever use illegal drugs with any of the defendants?” that’s going to resonate with the jury.

      I would want all of the “unknown” fingerprints accounted for. My recollection is that there weren’t many of them.

      I also think the plaintiffs should chase down a lot of the rumors we’ve seen. Did Joe really try to get an Asian stripper to come to the house? Was Dylan Ward into Asian men? Did Joe really do cocaine and have sex in the bathroom at a local club?

      Finally, I’d like to see a “phone web” showing who called who in the 24 hours before and after the murder.

      • chilaw79
        07/25/2010 at 12:13 PM

        I am not familiar with the precise grading of drug crimes in DC, but I would guess that drug use back in 2006 would not constitute first or second degree felonies. As a result, I think the statute of limitations would apply (since most crimes in DC other than murder or first or second degree felonies, are subject to a three year statute of limitations). Many witnesses would be unable to take the Fifth if the questions were phrased to include only drug use in 2006.

        The plaintiffs are seeking detailed records from telephone companies, Internet service providers, and web sites. If you have any specifics in mind, you may want to expound.

        The phone web is a great idea.

        • Bill Orange
          07/25/2010 at 6:04 PM

          Let me expand the phone web to start at the time Robert Wone sent out his e-mail asking if he could spend the night. I’m most curious about Victor. Did he just happen to catch an earlier flight, or did he actively try to get home early (i.e., canceling meetings, missing conference sessions, whatever).

          I would also ask all three defendants if they were, in fact, guilty of the charges for which they were just acquitted. They can’t be re-charged for these crimes, but they CAN be hit with perjury charges if they lie about them now, and new evidence subsequently comes to light. If they want to claim that this is a “back door” around double jeopardy, they can have at it.

    • 07/25/2010 at 12:31 PM

      I’d like to hear from (and have her testimony on the record) Officer Diane Durham as to Joe’s telling her where they found Robert’s body at first (by the patio) and what they did then (transported upstairs). I never understood why she was not fully heard from in the criminal trial. Also, follow the water and the spider stories; my lie detector meter is off the charts on those explanations by the threesome.

  11. Clio
    07/24/2010 at 6:30 PM

    My first question would be to Mr. Hixson: How did he and his trick du jour become “thirds” for Dyl and Joe? Were any of these encounters of a BDSM variety? Did Dyl show any apprehension about these encounters, jitters that he had expressed to Culuket in June 2006?

    Then, for a relevant staff member at Results gym, did any of the trouple members go there during the late afternoon/early evening of August 2? Was Dyl a fellow member of Results, along with Culuket? Was Victor?

    • chilaw79
      07/24/2010 at 8:19 PM

      I like your approach. Start with someone who is a tangential witness and work your way up, so the defendants have time to take it all in and wonder who you will depose next.

      Do you have any questions about the use of drugs in connection with these activities?

      The gym has never made that much sense to me. Was Joe ever placed at the gym and, if so, did Victor really come looking for him?

      • Clio
        07/25/2010 at 8:56 AM

        Thanks, chilaw. Drugs, I think, are key to pinpointing the causes of the murder — I would ask Sarah, Kim M., Scott, Scott’s trick, Dyl’s brother who stayed the weekend before, Louis, Michael, etc., if they had observed or participated in the use of drugs at that house (or with the defendants at some other location). Also, if alt dot bomb tracks responses to their ads, I would depose all respondents to Joe’s, if possible.

        Sarah should be asked why she only took a tooth brush to Tom and John’s. In turn, Tom and John should be asked about the reasons and frequency of Sarah’s TV-watching at their house — who leaves at 6 pm to go TV watching all night?? Also, we still do not know if August 3 was a work day for Miss Morgan — was Congress in session that week or not?

        • chilaw79
          07/25/2010 at 10:58 AM

          I would have a lot of questions for Miss Morgan, too. As a tenant with access to the main home, she had an opportunity to observe the defendants, knows about the security system, knows the neighborhood, and had contact with Joe Price before and after the murder. I also would have questions about whether any items were either found or missing from her apartment after Robert’s death.

          And cameras! I would have a lot of questions about her knowledge of cameras at Swann Street.

          I also would ask about her knowledge of the “polyamorous” nature of the defendants and her observations of the same.

          • Bill 2
            07/27/2010 at 2:06 PM

            Sarah Morgan may come into this interview from a different standpoint. As a result of the recent trial, she now knows that Joe Price did not paint a nice picture of her when he spoke to police. Perhaps, that will cause her to be much more open about her observations of upstairs happenings at the house on Swann Street. She may hold the key to opening some doors that have been locked up by the trio until now.

            Maybe her friends, Tom and John, could pass her a clue.

            • Bea
              07/27/2010 at 8:33 PM

              I like this entire line of questioning and depos. My guess is that Sarah is still linked to Victor and since he’s on the hook in the civil trial she will hold the (party) line. But if Tom & John give up some info about how that night’s TV watching came to be, she may have to open up too.

              Like others, I agree that you shake these trees: drugs and tricks. Both will yield the other and allow for additional follow up.

              I’ve considered that Michael Price having missed class that night may have been tied to an early meeting with Joe and not that he was at Swann when Robert arrived. Perhaps he ‘procured’ for Joe when Joe was “going to the gym” – sure seems that either he or Phelps Collins will again find themselves on the wrong side of the law and need to pony up info in exchange for leniency/immunity. . .

    • Boltz3000
      07/25/2010 at 11:55 AM

      I used to see Dylan at Results all the time. And speaking of Dylan-sightings, happened to spot him with a party of 3 other guys having dinner on 17th Street the other night. One of the 3 was fairly obviously his boyfriend/date/whatever.

      And now to totally cross over into the realm of gossip, the boyfriend was Asian.

      • chilaw79
        07/25/2010 at 12:15 PM

        What you see with your own two eyes is not gossip, although you do not state why you believe the individual was his boyfriend/date/whatever.

      • Clio
        07/25/2010 at 12:18 PM

        Fascinating, Boltz. That raw intelligence re Mr. Ward raises several questions: (1) why would Dyl exercise at home that evening when he apparently and regularly did so at Results? (2) if Dyl was “the love of his life”, why would Culuket exercise at Results while Dyl exercised at home? (3) if that sighting of Dyl is for real, what is still keeping massage therapist Mr. Ward in metro DC? Is the main reason that new beau (and friends) described above?

      • Susan
        07/25/2010 at 1:09 PM

        To get the complete picture–what restaurant?

      • Nelly
        07/26/2010 at 5:22 AM

        Very interesting bit of information. Makes me wonder how Dylan is making a living in DC again. And here I was hoping to book a massage appointment with him on a future trip to Florida.

      • chilaw79
        07/26/2010 at 9:09 AM

        What were the regular procedures at Results? Did you have to check in when you arrived? Do you know of staff members from 2006 who are still there?

      • Boltz3000
        07/26/2010 at 6:42 PM

        Ok, they looked like they may have been boyfriends/whatever by their mild forms of pda; e.g. putting their arms around each others’ shoulders, light touching, etc. But who knows? They simply could be close friends so it seems somewhat gossipy to speculate.

        Yes, I used to see Dylan at Results but I don’t remember exactly when other than prior to the murder. I couldn’t say if he was an habitué at the time of the murder. Members are required to scan a card for entry so surely the gym would have record of his attendance.

        The restaurant was Dupont Italian Kitchen or as we in the neighborhood affectionately refer to it, the DIK, for short.

        • Clio
          07/26/2010 at 8:10 PM

          Thanks, Boltz, for that nifty update on our favorite Dylletante. The info on membership and attendance records at Results should be especially welcome news to Covington’s offense, if they do not already know about it. More astonishing to your neighborhood, though, may be the continued presence of Mr. Ward in the federal capital.

          • Susan
            07/26/2010 at 9:53 PM

            Hey Clio,

            Agree with what you wrote re Covington and the gym records.

        • Susan
          07/26/2010 at 9:52 PM

          Boltz,

          The restaurant actually has that acronym posted to refer to the club upstairs (or at least it did the last time I noticed). Good food. Thanks for sharing that.

          So I wonder what time JP got to the gym that night and if there is a record of VZ going in to look for him. That might be something the prosecutors might want to look into for the civil trial (just to verify the timeline).

          • David
            07/27/2010 at 4:30 PM

            Susan,

            During the stipulations at the criminal trial it was agreed by both parties that Victor checked into Results at 7:11 pm on August 2, 2006. What I found interesting was he landed at 5:51 at Dulles, and only 80 minutes later was already checking in to Results at 7:11 pm. Awfully quick turnaround, if you ask me.

            David, co-ed.

            • Susan
              07/27/2010 at 4:56 PM

              Thanks, David.

              Wow. I agree, re the time. Esp. when you consider it was rush hour, too.

              I wonder what time JP checked in and out.

            • chilaw79
              07/27/2010 at 5:11 PM

              Victor did say he had arranged a car to take him home. It sounds really fast from Dulles to DuPont Circle, though.

              • Susan
                07/27/2010 at 7:13 PM

                Traffic was likely greatest in the other direction (DC to VA)but I’d think it would take about an hour.

                • chilaw79
                  07/27/2010 at 8:48 PM

                  You would be on the Dulles access road so that might be a little faster. Of course, I don’t usually have a car waiting for me.

            • Bea
              07/27/2010 at 8:17 PM

              Especially a quick turnaround if he was home in a half-hour. Doesn’t seem like working out was the reason for the beeline over there.

      • carolina
        07/27/2010 at 9:55 PM

        I may be ridiculously superstitious or cautious, but if I were an Asian lad, Dylan Ward would not get the time of day from me.

  12. 07/24/2010 at 10:16 PM

    ALERT. Fox News (5) in DC is about to show a view inside the Swann St. house!! (10:15 pm now)

  13. Clio
    07/25/2010 at 9:09 AM

    What did they show, Gloria?

    Therese must be either really glad or really mortified! Not even another exorcism, though, could raise the appeal of that cramped kitchen, IMHO.

    • 07/25/2010 at 10:50 AM

      Thanks to HopeForJustice (keep posting HfJ!!); I couldn’t find the link on Fox News but HfJ did. It actually showed our own editor Michael (looking GOOD, even in this heat, Michael!) exploring the real estate listing for the house, on his laptop, showing interior and exterior photos of the house. Interviewed a neighbor who said the house could sell despite its history. Michael said anyone can find the history by doing an online search. However, Fox misspoke in saying the threesome were Robert’s “best friends” and that the 3 had been found “not guilty,” with none of the subtleties involved in that term. (It’s the whitest white wall paint I’ve ever seen. “White washing” the truth?” (Sorry, groan.) But maybe yet more viewers will be attracted to our little community who watched it.

    • 07/25/2010 at 10:56 AM

      Oh, one more thing. Fox News said it is against the law in DC for a real estate agent to reveal the history of a crime having occurred in the property UNLESS the client ASKS. Note to myself: ASK.

    • chilaw79
      07/25/2010 at 12:17 PM

      In all fairness to Therese Cox, I did not think she was the listing agent for the property. Am I wrong? Ms. Cox did sell the property before, but that does not mean she has the listing now.

      • Clio
        07/25/2010 at 12:49 PM

        You’re right again, chilaw. My apologies to Therese.

        Then, that makes another exorcism an even more remote possibility. Pity!

      • 07/25/2010 at 12:49 PM

        Nope. See http://www.redfin.com/DC/Washington/1509-Swann-St-NW-20009/home/9867960

        The basement apartment is larger than I had assumed. I wonder how much rent she paid, as to whether she got a significant discount, being a housemate/friend vs being someone to help carry the mortgage. (I have a full, basement apartment in my house, about that size and with those amenities, so can estimate the going rate.)

  14. Clio
    07/25/2010 at 1:49 PM

    Editors, is Sean still interning for you all? Or, did his term end with the first trial?

  15. Steve
    07/25/2010 at 9:22 PM

    Coming on the heels of the much publicized criminal trial, the civil trial against the defendants for the murder of Robert Wone is anti-climatic.

    Judge Leibovitz of the criminal case has determined the facts of the case based on the available evidence and has also affirmed the probability of other aspects of the murder.

    Obviously, then, the criminal case can be a rough blueprint for the civil case – using only the elements that have been proven or determined probable. Is not the standard in civil cases “the preponderance of the evidence,” essentially “more likely than not?” The criminal case may be legally irrelevant to the civil case, but the different standard of proof for the civil case and Judge Leibovitz’s rigorous approach in the criminal case gives one confidence that conspiracy can easily be proven in the civil case.

    As far as the other charges – wrongful death, negligence, and spoilation of evidence, my limited legal knowledge cannot ascertain how those charges can be proven as the criminal case did not effectively address any of them.

    The following are issues with which I disagree with Judge Leibovitz or with which the judge did not address but which would be useful in the civil case:

    1. The Thomas’ testimony. This is key to both cases. I don’t understand Judge Leibovitz’s reasoning here. Did Mrs. Thomas watch Nightline after the 11pm newscast? Were there voices on Nightline that were similar to Maureen Bunyan’s. The reporting I’ve read does not answer either question.

    2. The knife. For some reason, Judge Leibovitz thinks that Joe Price wiped the murder weapon’s handle clean. In my mind, it could have been any of the persons in the house as the evidence points to a three-person conspiracy to cover up the murder. With the evidence that we have, the wiping cannot be pinned on one individual without corroboration. Can an individual act of “spoilation of evidence” be charged to all three defendants without corroboration that they conspired together to wipe the knife handle?

    3. The motive. The widely discussed prurient theory of why Robert Wone was murdered cannot be proven with existing evidence. The needle marks point to a violation of Robert Wone; whether it was a drug to make him immobile, electroshock sexual stimulation, or both, cannot be proven. For the sake of the integrity of the case and its persuasiveness to a jury, the plaintiff should eschew theories where there is not solid evidence to support it.

    The evidence available to the plaintiff is limited and narrow. One or more of the defendants killed or participated in the killing of Robert Wone. But while we can find them all guilty of conspiracy to cover up the crime, we cannot determine who or which combination of defendants killed him. Hence my incredulity as to how the plaintiff can make the charge of wrongful death stick.

    Perhaps faced with a lifetime of debt, one of the defendants will turn on the others.

    • chilaw79
      07/25/2010 at 10:45 PM

      The plaintiff is not limited to the evidence developed in the criminal case. New evidence can be developed. In addition, evidence currently available that could not be used to prove the three criminal charges before Judge Leibowitz can be employed, particularly in the wrongful death case.

      For better or worse, the plaintiff was required to move forward because of the statute of limitations for civil actions. In my view, Kathy Wone would have preferred to have the government prosecute her husband’s murder before bringing a civil case.

      Even if the alleged murderer or murderers were acquitted, the blueprint of a wrongful death action would be clearer if the government had gone first. The popular analogy would be to the O. J. Simpson case.

      The defendants will have to answer questions in depositions and are likely to have to testify in the civil case. Otherwise, their silence can (and probably would) be used to draw inferences against them in the civil case.

      While I agree that the murder of Robert Wone has certain prurient aspects, the deposition is a useful tool. Questions can be asked that counsel may not want to present to a jury. There is a lot of sifting and winnowing in the discovery process. Plaintiff’s counsel will need to be careful not to make the defendants seem sympathetic. The experience of Patrick Regan as a trial advocate will be very important here.

      Of course, the negative is that the plaintiff does not have all the tools available to her that a prosecutor does. She will have no policemen, detectives, investigators, or forensic analysts provided through taxpayer dollars.

    • chilaw79
      07/26/2010 at 9:13 AM

      Considering the privileges available (e.g., Fifth Amendment, domestic partner privilege), Dylan seems to be the potential odd man out to me.

      Discovery can be used to determine whether a theory is promising or not. There is a big difference between asking a question in a deposition and asking a question in court.

    • chilaw79
      07/27/2010 at 3:18 PM

      The defendants claimed that there was a voice on Nightline that evening similar to Maureen Bunyan’s voice. The Nightline episode for that evening was put into the criminal trial record.

      Mr. Thomas was equally adamant that the scream occurred during the 11:00 pm news broadcast with Maureen Bunyan that his wife watches regularly.

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