Seventh Seal

Another Day, Another Revelation – UPDATED 12:30pm ET

> Just made available, the public document that accompanied the most recent plaintiff filing, embedded after the jump. 


 Another document hit the clerk’s office late last week, and despite Judge Brook Hedge’s order that sealed filings be accompanied by a public document, this one has no such companion.  Her language was clear:

“ORDERED that all parties should submit a public record filing discussing in general terms what is contained in the sealed materials such that the public record is complete, whenever a sealed filing is submitted.”

"Your move."

We’ll continue to monitor the Superior Court database to see if anything else turns up.  

While this may not be the seventh sealed document that has been filed regarding the plaintiff’s efforts to subpoena the defendants’ Verizon phone and email records, we can’t let a perfectly good art house film reference go to waste.


08/20/2010:  Sealed Plaintiff’s Opposition to Defendant’s Motion to Seal Filed Attorney: RAZI, Mr BENJAMIN J.,  ESTATE OF ROBERT E WONE; Mr BENJAMIN J RAZI (Attorney) on behalf of ESTATE OF ROBERT E WONE (PLAINTIFF); DANIEL M SULEIMAN (Attorney) on behalf of ESTATE OF ROBERT E WONE (PLAINTIFF)


22 comments for “Seventh Seal

  1. Hoya Loya
    08/24/2010 at 12:36 PM

    Glad to see that Kathy is opposing so that this case will not be as whitewashed as was the criminal case (for what seemed like good reasons at the time, at least until the defendants opted for a bench trial).

    Perhaps Razi felt that in this instance, the title of the filing was self-explanatory.

    • chilaw79
      08/25/2010 at 10:01 AM

      In DC Superior Court, short briefs are much more common.

      While I am a little surprised there was not one case citation, I am glad Covington made the effort and opposed the motion.

  2. Michael
    08/24/2010 at 1:28 PM

    Go, Kathy, go, Kathy, go!

    Go, Kathy, go, Kathy, go!

    Go! Go! Go! Go!

    • denton
      08/24/2010 at 4:51 PM

      Michael – You are so funny. I posted to Bruce earlier about a 2008 civil trial that I was one of the two jurors who decided that the Defendant (WHC) was “guilty” – but 10 others (no alternate) decided that WHC “did ALL they could, and that WHC was not guilty” of wrongful death of a patient who died (in the end) because of blood stain in the brain that was not detected by any machines or human staff from the first brain hemorrhage surgery (the patient was admitted because he collapsed from an evening walk with his wife).

      …and my question to anyone here was:

      What would you do, or what should any juror do in the future, if you find your decision is against other jurors when the court’s rules is asking for only “one” verdict?

      Bruce also briefed about one juror who was against the rest in the Blaggo’s recent verdict…. If this happens all the time in juror trial, what would K.Wone and her team do to prevent it?

      • denton
        08/24/2010 at 5:46 PM

        … not meant to be off subject “Seventh Seal” here.

      • Cat in Cleveland
        08/24/2010 at 5:49 PM


        Great question. And any discussion on this issue is going to be impacted by the jurisdiction.

        Not all jurisdictions require a unanimous verdict. In Ohio (for example), it takes a unanimous jury to decide a criminal case, but in a civil case, 6 out of 8 decide. In other words, even if 2 jurors find the defendants NOT liable (in criminal cases, the jury decides guilt; in civil cases, the jury decides liability and damages), if 6 of the 8 jurors find the defendant LIABLE, the jury goes on to decide damages. The defendants lose.

        In federal court, even in civil cases, the jury cannot return a verdict unless all of the jurors agree. Just one holdout juror can hang the jury and a mistrial will be declared. The parties will then have to try the case all over again in front of another jury.

        For those who practice in DC, what’s the rule there? I assume its the same as federal court? The Plaintiff needs to win all of the jurors to get a verdict?

        As for the next question – what does a trial lawyer do to prevent a hung jury. . . much more complicated question. I can answer it in the abstract, but in practice, it is a game of dice.

        I’m speaking from the side of the Plaintiff, because that is what I know. For a defense attorney, a hung jury means that, for the time being at least, his client gets to hold on to his money (other than defense costs), so I imagine a hung jury is a far greater concern for the plaintiff.

        Our concern about a hung jury begins the first day of trial, and it is one of the things we think about during jury selection (known as voir dire). Voir dire is the most important part of the case.

        During voir dire, the judge and one lawyer for each party takes turns asking each of the prospective jurors (who are under oath to tell the truth) intrusive questions about their life, their experiences, their beliefs, etc. Prospective jurors can be stricken from the panel if they show, through their answers, that they cannot follow the law and decide the case on the evidence, rather than a preconceived idea. When a juror is stricken for that reason, its called a challenge “for cause.”

        Each party also gets what we call “peremptory challenges”. Typically, each side gets the same amount, so look for 3 each on the defense side, and 9 for the plaintiff – which will translate into a very very long jury selection process. Remember OJ?

        During voir dire, we try to find the “leaders” and the “followers.” We try to determine who the foreperson will likely be. Often, by the time voir dire happens, the jury pool has spent a lot of time together, so we look for budding friendships and hints of animosity. We do everything we can to read their body language. We want jurors who like each other, get along well, and will be able to resolve differences of opinion. And, of course, we want intelligent people who lack bias against our client, against people who file lawsuits, against lawyers who represent plaintiffs, etc. As we are questioning the first 10 prospective jurors, we are looking at the next 20, and trying to decide who the other side will strike, so that we don’t box ourselves in. We don’t like number 3, but number 11 is so much worse. . . for example.

        And then, after we’ve done all the pseudo-psychoanalysis we can do, we roll the dice and strike a juror. Repeat three (or nine) times. Then on with the show. Once the jury is in the box is sworn, there is nothing the lawyers can do to prevent a hung jury except be extremely persuasive.

        • denton
          08/24/2010 at 6:14 PM

          Cat in Cleveland – Wow! Your informative answer is brilliant! I do appreciate it.

          1. I think I like the Ohio court system better.

          2. I knew why I was picked during the jury selection. I knew I wanted to pour my heart out to my civil service commitment. Other jurors disappointed me in the end but I didn’t know any better of what to do. I wish I had a chance to read someone like your post here so I could serve better.

          3. Bruce refers on my earlier post re: “moral certainty” and “stick to my gun” and I did all that.

          4. When the lawyers rolled the dice and I was stuck with DC “one unanimous verdict” (one other juror changed her mind the last minute to go with the other 11), I felt powerless and wanted to talk to the Judge.

          …and I hate myself until now that I yielded to “the Defendant NOT guilty.”

          God…please forgive me.

          • chilaw79
            08/25/2010 at 10:11 AM

            There is a lot of pressure placed upon jurors to vote with the majority. It is difficult to hold out and you cannot be blamed for failing to hold out, especially when applying a “more likely than not” standard. The only thing I would say is that next time you should request the foreman to ask the judge and seek instruction. An alert lawyer could then seek an instruction or emphasize one already given that would give a minority juror a sound legal basis that he or she could cite to the other jurors for remaining true to their beliefs. Otherwise, you can feel that you are the person who is messing up another juror’s life (as opposed to the life of one of the parties to the case).

            The basic rule in DC in civil cases is that there are six jurors, although never more than twelve. Many judges want at least eight jurors in a civil case (more if the trial goes on longer so the jury never goes below six and results in a mistrial).

            The jury must be unanimous unless the parties stipulate otherwise.

            • denton
              08/25/2010 at 10:18 AM

              chilaw79 – GREAT, GREAT tips that one can live with it for the next trial(s). THANK YOU.

  3. denton
    08/24/2010 at 6:43 PM

    To Covington and K.Wone’s team – It’s a dice game but I wish you pick jurors who will help you win to the end.

  4. 08/24/2010 at 6:49 PM

    She forgives you.

    • denton
      08/24/2010 at 7:03 PM

      Thanks for your kind heart, Gloria.

  5. 08/24/2010 at 6:53 PM

    Jurors are always a roll of the dice but that is what a GOOD ATTORNEY and law firm should no how to deal with unless they secretly want to throw their client under the bus. Hopefully like OJ in a civil trial the defendents will have to get up on the stand and tell their story to jury of peers and not to a judge trying to match wits with some top lawyer–and as for Bruce in a prior post about OJ and Chris–I had read in some Magazine that prior to trial Chris was overheard saying I’m the man and that some veteran in the legal system heard him and was like NO Chris-Johnny is THE MAN

    • denton
      08/24/2010 at 7:15 PM

      Noaharc – Good points to remind all of us. Also, Bruce’s comment almost at the end of “BARD To Bard” re: that one juror who is throwing off the most recent Blaggo’s trial to one guilty out of how many? and that is a concern for ANY trial now that we have strange outcome anymore.

  6. tatoo
    08/24/2010 at 7:24 PM

    How GREAT and AMAZING is Kathy Wone? I am sure the Holloways and Levys did what they thought was best for their daughters but at certain point, with media make overs it became more about them, then the missing young women. Ms. Wone has remained strong and focused on the important issues, although the temptation must be there to try and become a media victim/darling. When Ms. Wone does speak she teaches about Mr. Wone and not about how she will yield her new found power aganist anyone she wishes. I hope she stays strong and I hope people stand with her.

    • susan
      08/24/2010 at 10:47 PM


      I think in the cases you mentioned the parents did what they could, at least in the latter case. What happened with that one was that 9/11 happened soon thereafter and the media, not the parents, shifted focus. Then, of course, the MPD screwed up and ignored the guy who was attacking women in the park around the same time. I wouldn’t say those parents lost focus at all. Not At All. They lost their kid and their pain was palpable. Meanwhile–is it 10 years later now?–they still haven’t tried the guy but the defense attys request to see the last names of prospective jurors to ensure that hispanic names were in the mix was rejected.

      • denton
        08/25/2010 at 9:37 AM

        Susan – “…but the defense attys request to see the last names of prospective jurors to ensure that hispanic names were in the mix was rejected.”

        Defense (or in other cases, Plaintiff) attys did the right thing. I mean some cultures don’t go along with you if you don’t speak their language. I hope Covington and K.Wone’s team are lucky in picking jurors. I expressed my concerns earlier, on purposes, from having been a hold-out juror and how I was stuck with “DC’s one unanimous verdict” and had very little to go on with it.

        To ALL attorneys here –

        Can you, would you, in any rules or legal requirements in court system, instruct and stress the point during the jury selection that a juror CAN and SHOULD come forward and speak to the Judge if she/he feels against the verdict (before it is delivered)?

        • Bruce
          08/25/2010 at 3:23 PM

          Hi Denton:

          No No No No No. The answer to your question about an attorney advising a jury to try to speak to the judge is: NO. Negative.

          The job of an attorney is to convince a jury to decide a certain way, and the attorney, in “Closing Arguments,” can suggest what evidence to place emphasis upon, etc.

          In most jurisdictions, I believe counsel would be allowed in “Closing Arguments” to tell the jurors to “stick to their guns,” but I can also see why the Court might think this is the attorney prying into the jury deliberative process too much.

          In any event, the role of custody and control of the jury is not the attorneys’ job. It is solely the job of the Judge and the court bailiff, and both of them will be VERY VERY ticked-off at an attorney that tries to tell the jury something like that.

          First thing, the judge and the bailiff do not want to encourage any juror to ask any question outside the jury room, or confront the judge with anything.

          Everytime something like that happens, it creates a mini “emergency” for them and possible appealable errors unless they respond very carefully.

          The Judge wants the jury to work out their differences between themselves and come to a decision.

          It is not unusual for a jury to create a written question, and ask the bailiff to give it to the judge. At that point, the judge will generally call in all the attorneys to the court room, and they will discuss what an appropriate response is and/or whether there should be any response at all.

          Many times the judge will tell the jury when they pass a question to the judge: “I’m sorry, but I cannot answer your question. Please keep deliberating in good faith and try to come to a decision.”

          As to whether a juror could talk privately to the judge during deliberations, I have never heard of that, and would think it would be quite extraordinary (but I would defer to those who know better on that topic). Has certainly never happened on my trials or from what I’ve heard of others’.

          I believe that it most likely that IF the judge would allow such an extraordinary meeting, that the judge would listen to what the juror says, and then say, no matter what the complaint or issue:

          “I’m afraid I cannot help you. Please go back to the jury room and continue to try to decide this case in good faith, as you promised when you were chosen to be a juror.”

          • denton
            08/25/2010 at 8:44 PM

            Right – and million thanks to you, Bruce, on such a descriptive answer to my question. Yes, I went through ALL that you have described. Still…believe it or not…I can’t wait to jump on the wagon and give it another ride again whenever I get another summons – not on Mr. Wone’s case though because I already am prejudice!

      • denton
        08/25/2010 at 9:48 AM

        from end of “BARD To Bard” susan on 08/24/2010 at 11:20 PM

        Dear Susan,

        I thank you for words of comfort. We share our experiences for the better future. I live…and I learn. Thanks again.

  7. Clio
    08/24/2010 at 9:31 PM

    Thanks, Editors, for that well-chosen picture and caption above. “Your move”, Culuket, indeed!

    • Clio
      08/24/2010 at 9:58 PM

      An especially provocative snippet from the main character in the 1957 film The Seventh Seal:

      “I want to confess as best I can, but my heart is void. The void is a mirror. I see my face and feel loathing and horror. My indifference to men has shut me out. I live now in a world of ghosts, a prisoner in my dreams.”

      Who then would be the best choice in this ongoing tragedy to echo those words above?

Comments are closed.