Paper Trail

Judge Brook Hedge’s Lasting Impact

The dust has settled from last Wednesday’s jam packed status hearing.  Judge Hedge ruled officially on five pending motions.

Judge Brook Hedge: We hardly knew ye. Photo: Joanne S. Lawton/Washington Business Journal

Oral rulings in court parlance; there was no paper released on any of her decisions, so the only public record we have of that day is by way of the DC Superior Court database

And yes, it took a call to the Court to confirm oral meant oral, and no actual paper was produced on her rulings.  We’ve come to rely on the DC Court database to track the filings and motions of the case, and in almost all instances, it functions pretty well.  It would be far more convenient if the filings catalogued could be downloaded, however.  A boy can dream can’t he? 

Maybe someday that will happen, but it won’t be under the direction of the woman who chairs the Court’s technology committee, Brook Hedge.  Her retirement appears almost certain and while we wait for official word on which judge may end up with the Wone case, we bid a fond farewell to the jurist who made our job tracking this case a little bit easier. 

And while the smart money says Judge Michael Rankin gets the Wone duties, that may not be the case.  Hedge your bets, as they say in racetrack parlance.

The only record we have of last week’s rulings is this: 

2/08/2010  Result: Status Hearing Held on record. O.C.R.: KAREN GEDDES. COURTROOM #517.

Attorney Benjamin Razi, Stephen Rodger, Jason Levine, Brett Reynolds, Patrick Regan for the Plaintiff.
Attorney Brett Buckwalter for Defendant Joseph Price.
Attorney Frank Daily, Sean Edwards for Defendant Victor Zaborsky.
Attorney Ralph Spooner, Robert Spagnoletti for Defendant Dylan M. Ward.
Attorney Charles English for Proposed Media Intervenors Present.

Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel Deposition Testimony or Fifth Amendment Invocations by Defendant Ward is-Granted.  Plaintiff’s Motion to Intervene by Media is-Denied as Moot.  Plaintiff’s Motion to Intervene is Denied as Moot.  Defendant’s Joint Motion to Dismiss Counts One, Three and Four of Plaintiff’s Complaint, or in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment as to Counts One, Three and Four of Plaintiff’s Complaint is-Denied.  Defendant’s Motion to Enjoin Legal Counsel from Making Extrajudicial Statements Regarding Litigation is-Denied.

 12/08/2010  Oral Ruling Denying Defendant’s Written Motion Joint Motion to Dismiss Counts One, Three, and Four of Plaintiff’s Complaint, or in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment as to Counts One, Three and Four of Plaintiff’s Complaint by Judge Hedge in Open Court Entered on the Docket on 12/8/2010. (kt)    

12/08/2010  Oral Ruling Denying Defendant’s Written Motion to Enjoin Legal Counsel from Making Extrajudicial Statements Regarding Litigation by Judge Hedge in Open Court Entered on the Docket on 12/8/2010. (kt)    

12/08/2010  Oral Ruling Denied as Moot Plaintiff’s Written Motion to Intervene by Judge Hedge in Open Court Entered on the Docket on 12/8/2010. (kt)    

12/08/2010  Oral Ruling Denied as Moot Plaintiff’s Written Motion to Intervene by Media by Judge Hedge in Open Court. Entered on the Docket on 12/8/2010. (k)    

12/08/2010  Oral Ruling Granting Plaintiff’s Written Motion to Compel Deposition Testimony or Fifth Amendment Invocations by Defendant Ward by Judge Hedge in Open Court Entered on the Docket on 12/8/2010. (kt)

Judge Hedge’s work on the Court tech committee was recently profiled in the Washington Business Journal by Features Editor, Melissa Castro:

“Standing outside D.C. Superior Court’s blocky midcentury building, you’d never guess the court is a technological leader among its cohorts in the Washington region, particularly if you’ve visited Fairfax County’s “high-tech courtrooms” with wizardry that lets trial attorneys build dazzling visuals in real time.

But here’s the difference between D.C. and most of the region’s other courts: When you visit other courthouses to research a case, there’s a good chance you’ll come up empty-handed.  The files could be anywhere — maybe in a judge’s chambers, maybe not.  Your guess is as good as the file clerk’s, who, by the way, is pretty sick of fetching your dang documents all day.”

Castro draws distinctions between DC and Maryland jurisdictions when it comes to pulling records, and while far from perfect, DC trumps our neighbor to the north in that regard.  Pulling this hefty volume on Michael Price’s Assault II charge last year proved to be an all-day affair out in the lovely suburbs.  Don’t go back to Rockville, but if you need to pull criminal records, do it on Wednesdays, the civil days.

Castro quotes Hedge on the challenge in making court documents publicly available:

“People think this stuff is simple because it just goes on the Internet,” said Brook Hedge, a D.C. Superior Court judge who chairs the court’s technology committee. “It’s not.” “

No kidding.

As for Castro, shortly after she filed this story she wrote a WBJ piece on gay marriage and her own personal travails, comparing DC and Virginia laws on the issue.  She closes her piece with a proposal, not on the law, but to her partner:

“In the meantime, I almost forgot to ask the most pressing question of all: Jami — will you marry me?”

Judge Hedge may be out in regards to the trial business, but perhaps she can still officiate marriage ceremonies. She did conduct one of DC’s first last spring, after all.


28 comments for “Paper Trail

  1. denton
    12/15/2010 at 12:02 PM

    Three candidates are on their way.

  2. Rich
    12/15/2010 at 12:11 PM


    I must say, You really are al over the map when it comes to news/information in the marketplace.

    How do you keep up on it all?

    Or, do you have 13 Interns chasing down the data for you?

    • denton
      12/15/2010 at 12:34 PM

      Craig is an octopus, Rich.

    • Craig
      12/15/2010 at 3:54 PM

      I cover the waterfront.

      • Clio
        12/15/2010 at 9:27 PM


  3. carolina
    12/15/2010 at 8:19 PM

    Striking photograph of a brilliant woman. I am very sorry to see her go before the Wone trial.

  4. 12/15/2010 at 9:02 PM

    Many kudos for Judge Hedge’s contribution, BUT does this mean her application for senior status was rejected? Or did she withdraw her request?

    • Bruce
      12/15/2010 at 9:46 PM


      Five attorneys for Mrs. Wone came to the hearing. Count them: “Benjamin Razi, Stephen Rodger, Jason Levine, Brett Reynolds, Patrick Regan for the Plaintiff.”

      And, of course, Mrs. Wone also appeared. They really wanted to have a show of force, and they did.

      Just in my head, I’m thinking that those 5 attorneys probably spent a total of 10 hours, just in getting to, waiting in line, and attending the hearing.

      Very conservative estimate would be that this likely cost Covington about $2,500.00 in billable hours that they could have done for paying clients. My guess is also that they knew or predicted that the judge would rule on the motion to dismiss/summary judgment.

      High praise is deserved by the Covington team for their intense dedication, interest and sacrifice in their pro bono work in this case!

      • Rich
        12/15/2010 at 10:20 PM


        Based on your numbers, try $25,000 not $2500.00.

        These guys bill out at a minimum of $500.00 per hour.

        Not $50.00 per hour.

        It’s Covington.

        Top 20 of Am Law.

        • Bruce
          12/16/2010 at 12:55 AM


          You must be using the “new math.”

          My old math is 5 attnys X 2 hours = 10 total hours (this is just for attending the hearing).

          That 10 hours would contain a mix of billable hours (partners and associates), some maybe in your range (big shot partners), but some others (associates) much lower. I gave that 10 hours a made-up blended rate of about $250 per hour.

          $250 X 10 = $2,500.00.

          It is likely more than that, and I said in my post that I was giving a “very conservative estimate,” but your $25,000, I am afraid, is a tad fantastic, even for well healed Covington.

          • Bruce
            12/16/2010 at 1:00 AM

            Argggg….well heeled.

          • Rich
            12/16/2010 at 2:53 AM

            Following your formula, I was at 5 attorneys X $500.00 per hour = $2500.00 x 10 Billable Hours = $25,0000.

            As for Bill Rates, you can count on $500.00 per hour for Covington. Easy.

            • Bea
              12/16/2010 at 3:23 AM

              I don’t know how long it took to travel, wait and attend but assume two hours each sounds more likely than ten each. Still, I agree with Rich that there’s no way the blended rate of Covington attorneys is $250.

              My guess is that first year associates at Covington are billed out close to $250/hr while top partners are closing in on $1,000 each. At my firm, the first years are billed out at $225, so Covington is likely more. Not that any first year is worth it – but you have to do the math on the $160,000 salaries they’re taking home.

              • Rich
                12/16/2010 at 10:20 AM

                ThankI was being ultra conservative at $500.00 per hor.

                Just trying to stay within Bruce’s numbers.

                • Bruce
                  12/16/2010 at 4:58 PM

                  New math, old math, whether we use a blended rate of $250 (to reach a total of $2500), or $500 (for a total of $5,000) or $2500 (!!!) (for a total of $25,000)…..

                  …Can’t we all (just get along) and all acknowledge that there was a significant sacrifice involved!!

                  • Rich
                    12/16/2010 at 5:11 PM


                    It’a just WAY MORE a sacrafice at $25,0000.

                  • Clio
                    12/16/2010 at 5:15 PM


                    Although the term “significant sacrifice” is so relative: military service and/or first responding probably epitomizes “significant sacrifice.” Yet, for a profession not known for its inherent altruism, yes, this is a “significant sacrifice” for Team Covington.

                    • Bruce
                      12/16/2010 at 5:57 PM

                      Indeed. So, shall we dance?

                    • Clio
                      12/17/2010 at 9:56 AM

                      Yes, by all means,
                      Bruce,let’s rumba with the boys in Miami.

    • Craig
      12/16/2010 at 11:06 AM

      G: Senior status looks to be for real. We’ll do a deeper dive into the judges’ calendars and rotations on Friday I think.

      • 12/16/2010 at 3:33 PM

        To clarify, I’m referring to an earlier post (Sept 1 — Hedging Bets) in which it was said that Judge Hedge’s application for “senior status” (if accepted) would allow her to continue hearing cases. I’d presume that means hearing cases on a lighter schedule. Specifically, Scarcella of the Legal Times was quoted as saying: “Hedge … is seeking senior status as a judge, MEANING SHE WOULD CONTINUE TO HEAR CASES IF SHE IS APPROVED (emphasis added by me). It was not immediately known this afternoon, however, whether she would continue to preside over the Wone case after December.”

        So if you (Craig) are saying her “senior status looks to be for real,” how should we interpret that she’d “lose” the Wone case? That she didn’t request the Wone case to continue or that, even if she werre to have senior status, “her” cases are thrown in the mix (musical chairs) in which every year, assignments to cases assigned to judges are shuffled?

        Rich: “G: Senior status…” is Craig referring to me (as G), answering my question, way above. Follow the arrows!!

        • Rich
          12/16/2010 at 4:21 PM


          Too Funny.

          I was wracking my brains on, “G. Senior…”

          I thougth Hege was overlooked for Senior Status which would place her in retirement.

          Could be WAY WRONG.

        • denton
          12/16/2010 at 5:49 PM

          G: [no senior, just “G”],

          Senior Judge Recommendations

          At any time prior to or not later than one (1) year after retirement, a judge may seek a recommendation for appointment as a senior judge, by filing with the Commission a request in writing for such recommendation. As with an associate judge who seeks reappointment, a retiring judge must submit a written statement, including illustrative materials, reviewing the significant aspects of his or her judicial activities, and must submit on a form provided by the Commission a statement from the judge’s doctor attesting to the judge’s health and fitness to continue judicial service.

          Once a judge submits a request for a recommendation for appointment as a senior judge, the Commission begins the review process which includes: soliciting comments from the legal community and the general public concerning the judge’s qualifications, interviewing attorneys and Court personnel who have appeared before and worked with the judge, interviewing the judge and the chief judge of the judge’s court, and reviewing all of the Commission’s files concerning the judge.

          The Commission must complete its review within 180 days and is required to submit a written report of its findings to the appropriate Chief Judge, and to make a recommendation concerning a judge’s fitness and qualifications to continue judicial service. If the Commission makes a favorable recommendation, the Chief Judge determines if the judge is to be appointed a senior judge, and such appointment must be made within thirty (30) days of receipt of the Commission’s report. If the Commission makes an unfavorable recommendation, the requesting judge is ineligible for appointment. The recommendation of the Commission and the decision of the Chief Judge regarding appointment are final.

          A senior judge must be recommended for reappointment to senior status every four (4) years, unless the judge has reached age 74, in which case a recommendation and reappointment are required every two years.

          • Rich
            12/16/2010 at 6:25 PM

            Good Information, Denton:

            With that said, we still have 60 more days to learn if Hedge was granted Sr. status. Some folks on the inside have said it will not happen.

            60 days and we will know.

            And, as for your nominees to fill the vacancies, there were up to 40 who applied.

            And, in reviewing my list of possible replacements, another, Whoops:

            Please delete Kaye K. Christian.

            She is one of the three retiring.

            The third retirement is a real blow to the gay community.

            Judy Retchin.

            She went on the bench in 1992 in the closet and stayed there for quite some time. Only a few know now.

            We lost her at our soirees when she joined the judiciary.

            She had to distance herself. 🙁

  5. Rich
    12/16/2010 at 11:16 AM

    “G: Senior status looks to be for real?”

    Not sure what, “G.Senior,” means.

    But, look to the following to be most likely to replace Hedge.

    Judith Bartnoff
    James E. Boasberg
    Patricia A. Broderick
    Erik P. Christian
    Kaye K. Christian
    Harold L. Cushenberry, Jr.
    Thomas J. Motley
    Michael L. Rankin
    Robert R. Rigsby
    Frederick H. Weisberg
    Rhonda Reid-Winston

    • denton
      12/16/2010 at 11:42 AM

      Dear Rich,

      Also adding 3 more “candidates” to fill in the Honorable Brook Hedge’s vacancy, released earlier from the D.C. Judicial Nomination Commission. The President has sixty (60) days, from 12/6, to select a nominee.

      Catharine (Kate) Friend Easterly
      Teresa Ann Howie
      Steven Michael Wellner

      • denton
        12/16/2010 at 11:54 AM

        …more homework to editors, like Eds need it!

    • Rich
      12/16/2010 at 12:02 PM

      Whoops! Left one off of the list. And, he’s quite logical:

      Maurice A. Ross

      Watch Ross be the one,”knighted.”

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