Talk The Talk

Giving Voice to the First Amendment

It’s been over a month since the defense filed their  motion to Enjoin Legal Counsel From Making Extrajudicial Statements regarding Litigation, AKA the gag order.

DC Superior Court - Carl Moultrie Courthouse

Two weeks after that filing, the plaintiffs fired back with their opposition, which was then followed by one on behalf of the Media Intervenors, of which we are included.  Last week, the defense responded to both oppositions, twice as it turned out.

It’s possible that this dust up, which started with Wone family attorney Patrick Regan’s tough talking outside of Judge Brook Hedge’s courtroom following the the September 16 status hearing, may be resolved at the next status on December 8. 

And if the Intervenors get their way, there will be a full airing of the issue that day, not outside the courtroom, but this time inside.

Filed late last week, attorneys for the Media Intervenors have asked Judge Hedge for oral arguments to oppose the gag order.  Specifically, counsel wants to address four points as stated in the request:

(1)  the Constitutional application of the proposed order in a civil, rather than criminal, case context;
(2)  the circular logic that since D.C. Professional Conduct Rule 3.6 is subject to interpretation, it should not be interpreted; instead, prior restraint of all counsel statements is necessary;
(3)  the First Amendment rights of the media when as here one party to the litigation objects to the proposed order as opposed to when the parties are effectively in agreement; and,
(4)  the implications of the defendants’ quoting repeatedly, in their Motion and Responses, the alleged offending statement thereby republishing it to the same media to whom they seek to bar identical extrajudicial statements.

It’s undetermined how Hedge will view this request.  The 10:00am status hearing on December 8 already has a key item on the agenda, an overarching Fifth Amendment argument which we’ll look at early next week.  A decision on that issue could impact the defendants’ depositions and the future contours of the case for both sides. 

For those who recall Ward counsel Robert Spagnoletti’s arguments on the Sixth Amendment (and Due Process) at the summer’s criminal trial, the status hearing on December 8 could see a reprise of those colorful performances.  And maybe we’ll get to see how the Spag manages First Amendment issues too, that day. 


24 comments for “Talk The Talk

  1. Michael
    11/23/2010 at 1:02 PM

    I hope Arent Fox combed through the e-mails for **hidden** messages. Things to look out for:

    – bogus extension types on file attachments (i.e. changing a .TXT file into a .JPEG)

    – shrunken, superscript, subscript, color-changed font (only readable if highlighted and copied to another word processor)

    Anything is possible. Keep the bases covered!

    • carolina
      11/23/2010 at 1:49 PM

      These are things even teens know to do, so I wouldn’t doubt Joe would, too. That said, I’m not sure the prosecutors would have been that savvy.

      • CDinDC (Boycott BP)
        11/23/2010 at 2:31 PM

        Agree, Carolina. Considering some of the bungles in the criminal case…

      • 11/23/2010 at 7:50 PM

        yeah but Joe was dumb to use his company’s computer-imho

        • carolina
          11/24/2010 at 5:50 PM

          Oh he certainly was, although I think it was probably because he thought he was above any consequences. I also doubt he expected the police to have any reason to raid his hard drive.

    • CDinDC (Boycott BP)
      11/23/2010 at 2:30 PM

      Absolutely, Michael. Clio hit on that on the other posting. Not only hidden messages (as you point out above), but hidden meaning messages. I mentioned that I do this with my partner. Job hunting turns into house hunting. We’ve got it down to a science.

    • 11/23/2010 at 7:42 PM


      • susan
        11/23/2010 at 9:01 PM

        As at least one other person posted once before and as I commented on what a friend said to me, it would be good if they had someone “in the life” working on this, etc. The troup’ had Grimm, Spag, etc. Inadvertently working with them were the DC MPD who appeared to be interrogating brothers from another planet (good film.) So I hope the plaintiffs employ people who can read btw all kinds of lines.

        • Clio
          11/24/2010 at 5:37 AM

          Covington does need a Spag!

          IMHO, Bernie, though, is straight, but not narrow, as his shirtless dance on a bar on a Caribbean island may attest.

          BTW, is Cathy Lanier still yammering about a “very, very active” investigation? Perhaps, any gag order should apply to her as well, if that’s all she’s going to continue to say.

          • Craig
            11/24/2010 at 8:45 AM

            Clio: 1.) Love the new caftan.

            2.) Lanier hasn’t had much to say lately on the Wone investigation. We wonder if she’ll be sticking around after Gray is sworn in as mayor. In any event, in the next week or so, we’ve got some news to share about her.

            I didn’t catch much of the Levy verdict coverage but wonder if they trotted her out for comment. I’m guessing not, since the case and conviction was primarily due to the work of the DC USAO. Justice in that case was spurred by two unlikely players – a guy walking his dog through Rock Creek Park one day and a jailhouse snitch. Don’t sell either short.

            3.) We wonder if the Spag’s duties on the new mayor’s transition team will take away from his day job, defending Dylan Ward, and as we assume, guiding the overall legal strategy for all three former housemates. I guess he was chosen for Vincent Gray gig because of his work as DC AG, in which Lou Chibbaro writes, “He is credited with helping to create programs to assist LGBT crime victims, including victims of hate crimes and domestic violence.”

            I’m not sure that even that lengthy resume makes him Covington material. Arent Fox perhaps?

            • Clio
              11/24/2010 at 9:41 AM

              Ouch on the AF reference, Craig!

              Thanks for noticing my new look. Black is the new black, so my updated caftan/avatar pattern does rock.

              I cannot wait to hear more about Chief Lanier: her potential to shake things up seems rather elusive at this point.

              Defense star Spag as victims’ rights advocate? Do I espy a guilty conscience there? Former DC AG as incoming political hack: is DC still a small Southern town? LOL!

            • Rich
              11/24/2010 at 9:54 AM

              Lanier was the lead in for Ron Machen’s first Public Press Conference since his arrival in February 2010 this past Monday.

              She is on record with, “The Investigation of the Robert Wone Murder is still under way.”

              • CDinDC (Boycott BP)
                11/25/2010 at 9:00 PM

                Did she just throw that in? What prompted her discussion of the Wone case, Rich? Seems a bit odd that she brought it up. Was there someone there that asked her about the Wone case? Can you expand on that?

            • susan
              11/24/2010 at 6:38 PM


              Re #2, I think she’s not looking too good considering her #2 (Groomes) is under investigation right now.

              Re the Levy trial the only thing I read in Post reports and heard on the radio was unflattering re the MPD. The gist was, they got to trial and the case against Guandique in spite of, rather than due to, the MPD’s efforts.

              BTW, Happy Thanksgiving to all good people who support justice for Robert Wone and his family, including the editors of, the decent Covington staff working on behalf of Ms. Wone and her family, and the good, caring posters on this page. Happy Thanksgiving, as well, to Chilaw79’s family.

              • Clio
                11/25/2010 at 10:35 AM

                Can the MPD ever be reformed? Or, is it doomed to be less than effective until the District achieves statehood (which will never happen in this century)?

                Part of me thinks that Joe actually factored these institutional and bureaucratic facts into his split decision to do whatever he did that night. If whoever killed Chandra could escape justice, then he may have believed that, surely, he as a supremely confident AF partner could get away with it, too.

  2. Clio
    11/23/2010 at 9:09 PM

    I sometimes do think that a counter-intuitive (for Joe) strategy of advocating transparency and free speech on both sides of this case would do wonders for the defense. If the three are not really liable in this wrongful death, then they should let every trick’s name and every behind-the-back comment (the they ever made in calendar year 2006) hang out in the blogosphere.

    Oops, on second thought — they are probably liable simply because there was no one else there in the house on the evening of 08/02/06. Hence, there is their need to suppress any and all info and analysis regarding what went down that night. But, gag orders are notoriously unsuccessful — just think of the one on discussing the expansion of slavery in the U. S. House of Representatives before the Civil War.

  3. Clio
    11/24/2010 at 5:22 PM

    Editors, is there any real estate news these days? Is 1509 Swann still for sale? Or, does it have a yet another new owner, just in time for the holidays?

    Is Joe now a Washingtonian, Virginian and/or Floridian? Is Victor still living with him as both man and wife?

    Dyl, of course, seems “wedded” to Miami and its androcentric attractions: How, though, can he ever compete with the likes of Fabrizio?

    • Craig
      11/24/2010 at 6:03 PM

      Clio: I’ll double check with the real estate editor, but if I’m not mistaken 1509 was taken off the market. The last time I looked, websites offered conflicting information.

      While the market in the 20009 didn’t bottom out, it was soft for a while during the housing downturn. At $1.6 million, it may have been priced, no pun, too high. That kind of money puts you in just about any neighborhood in this burgh, including some far better than DuPont. Still, there are not many streets in the area that are as beautiful or intact as that block of Swann.

      • Clio
        11/24/2010 at 8:43 PM

        Interesting, Craig. “Bottom out”, “soft”, and “too high” are terms that could perhaps be applied to a certain defendant’s lovelife as well.

        Happy Thanksgiving to all (to even our former trouple who must thank Lynn once again for her “cold comfort”); BTW, the President pardoned at least two turkeys today, and they were not named Joe and Dyl!

        • longtimelurker, first time poster
          11/25/2010 at 10:15 AM

          Eds: Re the house on Swann Street, I sent you an email about a conversation I overheard the Acela to NY last week, just wanted to make sure that you received it….

          • Craig
            11/25/2010 at 2:07 PM

            LTL-FTP: Just saw it. Thanks very much and thanks for thinking of us. We’ll see what we can find out.

  4. Rich
    11/27/2010 at 7:36 PM

    No,CD. Lanier has been quite passive about the Wone case. But, when pressed, she sticks with it being an,”Active,” investigation.

    • CDinDC (Boycott BP)
      11/27/2010 at 8:28 PM

      Ahh…I see. So she didn’t mention at the press conference. Her “Active” remarks were made previously. Thanks.

  5. Rich
    11/27/2010 at 9:32 PM


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