Intervention

11/02/2010
By Craig

On Behalf of the First Amendment 

We’re still waiting for Judge Brook Hedge’s ruling on the defense’s proposed gag order motion. 

Stop the Presses?

They proposed that none of the attorneys involved be allowed to talk to the media as the case winds its way to the October 2011 trial date.  

The plaintiffs weighed in with their response last week and another filing related to this hit the DC Superior Courts clerk’s office just yesterday.

In the works for several weeks, a number of DC media outlets have joined in opposition to the gag order.  Our thanks to them for signing on to an effort to protect press freedom. 

We hope to welcome additional outlets as well.

“WhoMurderedRobertWone.com, The Washingtonian, and Allbritton Communications Company on behalf of WJLA-TV, NewsChannel 8 and TBD.com (“the Media Interveners”), by counsel and pursuant to D.C. Sup. Ct. Rule 24(b), hereby move this court for permission to intervene in the above-captioned matter for the narrow and limited purpose of opposing Defendants’ Motion to Enjoin Legal Counsel From Making Extrajudicial Statements Regarding Litigation (the “Motion”) and the Motion’s Proposed Order (the “Gag Order”), and in support thereof states the following…”

1. This case and its related, but concluded, criminal matter have generated substantial public interest in the last four years and have, consequently, engendered extensive local and regional media coverage. See, e.g., Defendants’ Motion at ¶ 1. 
 
2. Defendants filed their Motion and Gag Order on October 8, 2010, seeking to prevent all counsel in this matter, known and unknown, from speaking to the media or “making any other extrajudicial public statement concerning this litigation.”

3. Media Interveners are members of the local and regional media who have a First Amendment right to gather news. See, e.g., CBS, Inc. v. Young, 522 F.2d 234, 238 (6th Cir. 1975).

4. The Gag Order, if granted, would constitute a prior restraint on speech that would strip Media Interveners’ First Amendment rights by barring them from speaking with either party’s counsel to gather information about the case.  

5. To safeguard their constitutionally protected rights to gather and report on news, which would be obliterated if the Gag Order is entered, Media Interveners respectfully move this Court for permission to intervene under Rule 24(b) so they can oppose the Gag Order’s overbroad and unconstitutional prior restraint of speech. 

6. Media Interveners’ limited participation in this case as described herein would neither prejudice any party nor delay the proceedings.

7. In support of this Motion to Intervene, Media Interveners have attached hereto an accompanying Memorandum of Points and Authorities and adopts it as if fully set forth herein.  WHEREFORE, Media Interveners respectfully request an Order granting them permission to intervene for the limited purpose of protecting their First Amendment rights by opposing Defendants’ Motion and Gag Order.”

The entire filing follows.  Our thanks to the legal team for their interest and dedication.

Craig, Doug, Michael, David

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17 Responses to “ Intervention ”

  1. Bruce on 11/02/2010 at 12:11 PM

    Wow! Very impressed! Good work WMRW et al. Much more to the point and succinct, in my opinion, than the plaintiff’s response brief to the “Gag” Motion. Our editors and their elves have been very busy indeed!

  2. Rich on 11/02/2010 at 1:57 PM

    I’m surprised other outlets ((Post, City Paper’ nBC 4) did not jump in.

  3. boofoc on 11/03/2010 at 9:24 PM

    This gag order request is a diversion, a side show; the judge should deny it and admonish all counsel to “play nice” as officers of the court. As has been said elsewhere, nothing has been published or threatened to be published that might poison the jury pool. Prior restraint of speech, with threat of sanctions, is a harsh remedy for a merely contemplated problem, especially in a civil trial.

  4. Bea on 11/03/2010 at 9:31 PM

    Agree, Boofoc.

    Power to the People of WMRW!

    • Craig on 11/04/2010 at 11:10 AM

      And power to the attorneys of wmrw!

    • Craig on 11/04/2010 at 2:11 PM

      In keeping with their fascination with the shiny bauble that is the Levy murder trial, a number of national MSM outlets have jointly filed a motion “asking the District of Columbia Superior Court to grant public access to court documents in an ongoing criminal trial involving the murder…” AP, WaPo and Gannett are among the signers.

      Our invitation for them to join as interveners on the pending gag order motion still stands.

  5. Clio on 11/03/2010 at 9:58 PM

    Gag orders make me gag! Elephants in the proverbial room need to be discussed publicly by people in the know (attorneys on the case), if any modicum of justice for Robert and the defendants is to prevail. The court-mandated gag also presupposes that the Covington attorneys in particular are not professional and do not know when to be discreet or measured in their public comments/actions.

    IMHO, Joe must have composed this Machiavellian, if ham-handed, request. Do the right thing and soon, Brook!

  6. Craig on 11/05/2010 at 10:25 AM

    This just in: WTTG-TV Fox5 has signed on as a media intervener in opposition to the proposed gag order. They have our thanks and appreciation.

  7. Craig on 11/05/2010 at 4:28 PM

    This just in too: Washington Blade signs on as an intervener. Thanks to publisher Lynne Brown and to Lou Chibbaro for running the traps.

    • CDinDC (Boycott BP) on 11/05/2010 at 4:36 PM

      ::applause:: That’s fantastic, Craig! How about some of the legal journals….are they on board?

      • Kate on 11/05/2010 at 6:57 PM

        CD – wouldn’t that be great!

        Craig – fabulous news and another round of applause.

        • Clio on 11/05/2010 at 11:32 PM

          I just hate to be the skunk at this garden party, but: Has CNN joined, too?

          • AnnaZed on 11/06/2010 at 1:25 AM

            Ha, ha, ha, fat chance of that ever happening.

  8. Susan on 11/05/2010 at 7:36 PM

    Thanks to the Blade and WTTG-TV and WMRW.com for leading this effort.

  9. RICH on 11/06/2010 at 12:54 AM

    More will follow. Just watch.

    Bruce are you in?

  10. Bruce on 11/06/2010 at 2:38 PM

    Hi Rich:

    Been out for a couple days and am catching up. This all sounds like great news and many congratulations to our resourceful editors for being the first named intervenor!

    Bruce

  11. RICH on 11/06/2010 at 9:48 PM

    Bruce:

    Anyway folks can find you offline?

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Purpose of this Site

On August 2nd, 2006, Washington attorney Robert E. Wone was murdered at 1509 Swann Street. Over two years passed before any criminal charges were filed - and then only conspiracy, obstruction of justice and crime scene tampering charges were brought against the Swann Street housemates, all present in the home on the night of the murder: Joe Price, Dylan Ward and Victor Zaborsky.

On May 17, 2010, a DC Superior Court trial got underway and all three defendants were all acquitted in that bench trial on those pending charges.

Nearly four years later, very little seems clear about what happened that night and who murdered Robert Wone. A cloud of suspicion remains over the Swann Street defendants who have denied any involvement in the murder of their friend or in the alleged cover up.

Judge Lynn Leibovitz found a moral certainty in their collective guilt, but not evidentiary certainty. Civil proceedings in a wrongful death suit filed by Robert's family is the next chapter in this tragic story.

We continue to work together seeking answers to the mystery of Robert Wone's murder and in finding justice for his memory and legacy.

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