Oh My (Voir) Dire!

He’s Just Not That Into You

Judge Lynn Leibovitz

Two months after Judge Lynn Leibovitz’ acquittal of Price, Ward and Zaborsky in the criminal trial, the decision remains controversial.  Even in Leiboviitz’ very own courtroom.

Jury selection for a five-defendant gangland murder trial got underway this week, and a prospective juror basically recused himself, based on the judge’s decision in the Wone case. 

The Post’s Keith Alexander got the delicious scoop

“On Monday, during the first day of jury selection for the murder trial in Judge Lynn Leibovitz’s courtroom, a man was being interviewed as a prospective juror.  The judge and attorneys on both sides were shocked when the man said he could not serve on the jury because he did not want to sit in Leibovitz’s courtroom. 

The reason: He did not respect the judge based on how she handled the Wone conspiracy trial, according to sources who were there.” 

We were told there was “sheepish recognition” of the controversy at the bench.  Now that was an interesting huddle.  Keith’s kicker: “…attorneys hope to complete picking a jury for the upcoming trial by Thursday — that is unless they uncover more Leibovitz critics.” 

Has the jury pool in courtroom 310 suddenly shrunk?  Mystery juror(s), drop us a line. 

posted by Craig

38 comments for “Oh My (Voir) Dire!

  1. Suecadence
    09/02/2010 at 11:54 AM

    That is very interesting. I served on a jury in Lebovitz’s courtroom back in April and at the time didn’t know she was the judge scheduled to hear the Wone case. It was only after my service ended and I was free to google her name that I discovered the connection. I knew of the Wone case, but hadn’t been following it obsessively (as I do now!).

    • 09/02/2010 at 1:56 PM

      What were your impressions of her?

  2. Rapt in MD
    09/02/2010 at 12:24 PM

    What a burn.

  3. boofoc
    09/02/2010 at 12:56 PM

    Certainly a novel way to avoid jury duty; nevertheless seemingly sincere and obviously effective: “I don’t respect the judge.” I’m learning more about jurors on WMRM than I did practicing law for 56 years.

    • chilaw79
      09/02/2010 at 2:21 PM

      And much safer than saying you find the gang defendants to be unsavory people.

      It never ceases to amaze me the strategies that people will adopt to avoid jury duty. This one seems more creative than most.

      Congratulations on your 56 years of practice!

    • denton
      09/02/2010 at 4:30 PM

      boofoc – I am glad that I didn’t offend you and that you would let us “pick your brain” at some point sooner or later! . . . just teasin . . . .

      To all trial lawyers – Another tips in a courtroom during the trial:

      – You must not comb your hair funny. If you hair (male lawyer) flips on the back, we talk about it behind the closed door in juror room when we are exhausted talking about the trial, or to kill our boredom.

      – Whether you shave, have new outfits (both male and female) with pinstripes or not, just cut your hair yesterday, what color looks good on you, how your eyes roll, how expensive is your Rolex,

      . . . we talk about it, and so on . . . .

      • Bill 2
        09/02/2010 at 4:55 PM

        Whoa! Serving on a jury one or two times suddenly provides you with authority to speak for all jurors with warnings to all trial lawyers? Simmer down, please.

        I’ve served on a jury and WE didn’t experience any of the things you mention in your tips to “all trial lawyers.”

        • denton
          09/02/2010 at 5:51 PM

          I am sorry. I don’t mean to sound like an expert. I really don’t.

          • denton
            09/02/2010 at 6:00 PM

            I overheard the other jurors talking, I was not even in the conversation. I have made it a “one time thing, and it was not a good one.”

            • denton
              09/02/2010 at 9:52 PM

              I really was a “hold-out” juror and I will never, ever, want to be in that situation never again. Like I said, I made it a “one time thing” because I was pumped up with the case – not with other jurors, nor their decisions.

      • Cat from Cleveland
        09/02/2010 at 8:07 PM

        Believe me, we know. We also know you see us in the parking lot, in the hallways, and in the cafe across the street. . .

        • Susan
          09/02/2010 at 9:02 PM

          For what it’s worth, I never heard a juror speak about an attys appearance, etc., though I’m sure it happens. And I’m sure some attys do the same re jurors. Shallow, cruel, human nature.

          • Clio
            09/02/2010 at 9:28 PM

            Everyone can always use a makeover, and, if the courtroom is just a stage with bad props and lighting, one would expect audience commentary on the dress and deportment of the primary thespians.

            One unfortunate hairdo can change the world!

  4. Nelly
    09/02/2010 at 1:34 PM

    How interesting. I also lost some modicum of respect for this judge after her verdict. Good that Keith Alexander found this tidbit of news to publish.

    • Carol
      09/02/2010 at 3:04 PM

      I attended much of the trial and though I thought the defendants were guilty, I believe the judge did an outstanding job and came to the correct conclusion with the evidence presented.

      • carolina
        09/02/2010 at 3:22 PM

        I concur. My only issue is her division of moral certainty and BARD. I really can’t see a clear cut difference.

        • Liam
          09/02/2010 at 10:19 PM

          I can’t even wrap my brain around what “moral certainty” is. I can wrap my brain around “evidentiary certainty”.

          I can’t imagine that a decision in a criminal case that could deprive a person of their freedom would be based on a standard as subjective as “moral certainty”.

          “Moral certainty” opens the door for a decision based on one’s prejudices, beliefs, and so-called values. I would like our justice system to be based on the evidence and only the evidence.

          So, in my opinion, Judge Leibowitz decision was the correct decision made in a very difficult case.

          • carolina
            09/03/2010 at 10:52 AM

            To be quite honest, I think Lyn’s decision was far more influenced by not being able to assign guilt to the correct party. If only Vic had stayed in Utah.

            • chilaw79
              09/03/2010 at 11:55 AM

              Or even taken a later flight. Yes, all in all, I think Victor would have rather not been there–whether he was involved or not.

              I do think Judge Leibowitz was more concerned about sending an innocent man to prison, than in convicting the guilty. While there is much to be said for the principle that the worst thing our justice system can do is to find an innocent man guilty, the fact is there is still a murderer walking around.

    • Clio
      09/02/2010 at 9:18 PM

      Yes, Nelly, Keith still apparently has not forgiven Lil Dyl for that bit of bitchery in the hallway. The devil is in the details, after all!

  5. Kate
    09/02/2010 at 4:49 PM

    Cheers All – I’ve been unfortunately out of the loop for a while and am still catching up on all that has transpired over the past few weeks before joining in the discussions.

    But I just have to thank the Editors for their very funny and clever header today. “Oh My (Voir) Dire!” – thanks for the lively chuckles. Priceless.

    • Susan
      09/02/2010 at 8:39 PM

      Glad you are back on the site, Kate.

      I agree re the headings; those headlines alone are worth the price of the visit to this site.

  6. Tattoo
    09/02/2010 at 5:53 PM

    I have never studied law so my head will yeild to those who have, when the say that Judge Lynn came to the correct conclusion.

    My heart though, says in your face Judge Lynn I just wish it had been me that said it to you. Her words about cold comfort, and one if not all three know who murdered Mr. Wone, made my stomach turn, her decsion sounded like she was working some type of an agenda.

    • chilaw79
      09/02/2010 at 11:54 PM

      This may be an instance of what Mr. Justice Holmes meant when he said “…hard cases make bad law.” The legal principle (proof beyond a reasonable doubt–which is sound) leaves a bad taste because of the judge’s expressed moral certainty that one or more of the defendants did something criminal (although she held as a matter of law the proof was not available to say any one defendant was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt).

  7. denton
    09/02/2010 at 6:14 PM

    My reaction to Judge Lynn’s decision was “I feel very cold, Judge.”

    I did not doubt her abilities and all that were presented to her to make the final decision. I was only chilled that the crime scene was so well organized, fast, precised – and full of cover-up.

    Had R.Wone been a non-Asian guy, was able to fight back, or was given an opportunity to detour his plan to spend the night, R.Wone would have been alive!

    • denton
      09/02/2010 at 6:26 PM

      . . . strike the “non-Asian” guy out and make it a “much intuitive” person (some people sense danger, I read from the “Gift of Fear”).

  8. Clio
    09/02/2010 at 9:13 PM

    So, Lynn got just a taste of her own “cold comfort”? One can only hope that she will regret her procedurally, if not morally, correct decision the rest of her life. Karma can be a bigger b than any judge, whether that magistrate be a man or a woman or anything in between. Isn’t that right, Mrs. Zaborsky?

  9. Bill Orange
    09/02/2010 at 10:17 PM

    My personal opinion here is that this is a good judge who made a bad call. But there was obviously someone in the juror pool who thought that the judge erred so badly that he/she couldn’t respect her, and that’s a pretty good reason to be excused from a jury. You wouldn’t want someone on a jury if they had strong feelings about an attorney on the prosecution or the defense teams, so it seems reasonable to excuse someone who has strong feelings about the judge.

  10. 09/02/2010 at 10:47 PM

    her decision and what she said about the decision was contridictory and tryiung to have it both ways-imho-

    • Bill Orange
      09/03/2010 at 8:28 AM

      I agree. I think this was a case of cutting the baby in half, to use a well-worn cliche.

  11. Bill Orange
    09/03/2010 at 8:32 AM

    To those who think that this was someone who was simply trying to get out of jury duty, I really can’t agree. I think that this prospective juror was someone who followed this case and had a strong opinion of the judge prior to going into jury duty this week.

    • chilaw79
      09/03/2010 at 9:11 AM

      Reading about the case in this morning’s Washington Post, I can see a prospective juror trying to get out of doing jury duty. The case involves rival DC gangs or crews involved in murder, guns, and drugs. Security is very tight, with U.S. marshals assigned to the court room. The case is a major test of a 2008 DC statute designed to penalize gang crimes more heavily. The trial, once begun, is expected to last five weeks.

      The prospective juror has been dismissed and it is unlikely the real reason will ever be known.

        • chilaw79
          09/03/2010 at 11:50 AM

          Thanks for the link. I appreciate your technological capabilities.

          • Bruce
            09/03/2010 at 12:13 PM

            While interesting, I don’t put an ounce of importance or significance on this one prospective juror before Judge Leibovitz. Prospective jurors include all kinds of people, crazy, not crazy, prejudiced, not prejudiced.

            While we don’t know who this prospective juror is, or how much he really knew about the Swann 3 criminal trial (since some prospective jurors will grab on to ANYTHING to try to get out of service), it was clearly the right thing to knock that guy out.

            At a minimum, he indicated that he could not listen to the evidence or instructions from the judge fairly. Next!

  12. KiKi
    09/03/2010 at 12:28 PM

    I personally think the debate between Moral certainty and legal certainty in this case can never be resolved. Mostly because as Liam points out above, we have to ask – whose moral certainty?

    I have a huge problem with the Kantian idea of ethics. So for all of you Kantians, I know this next statement will not bode well.

    Moral codes are individual to each person. There are no universal morals. Killing/stealing/assaulting is not necessarily wrong if done for a justifiable reason. But we each have our own code which defines justifiable.

    Because we cannot all run around with our specific moral codes determining our actions, we have created a rule of law. This rule of law is the only universal code which we all must abide.

    So in my mind Judge Ls determination of NG is not only legally accurate it is morally accurate on a societal level. Even though her own views/morals/certainty may have required a different result. The moral code that she swore to uphold, the laws of our society, required her to find the defendants NG.

  13. boofoc
    09/03/2010 at 12:42 PM

    The unknown excused juror no doubt had the preservation of life and limb in mind when he sought to avoid sitting on that particular jury – preservation of his own life and limb; gang members on trial and their gang-member friends and their gang rivals are known to have retaliatory tendencies. A juror’s finding either way would likely be resented by many unsavory characters. Fearless jurors are indeed to be respected, lest the system be devalued (judges also, of course).

  14. boofoc
    09/03/2010 at 12:53 PM

    Agree or not, KiKi, well reasoned and well said. This site abounds in intellectual thought.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *