Ranking Rankin

Reporting Last Week’s News Today 

Judge Michael L. Rankin: Front row on right

It’s official. Judge Michael Rankin is to inherit the caseload of retiring Judge Brook Hedge. 

And along with that comes the Wone case and October 2011 trial. 

As it appears on the DC Superior Court website:

12/30/2010 Event Scheduled Event: Pretrial Conference Date: 09/07/2011  Time: 4:00 pm Judge: RANKIN, MICHAEL L Location: Courtroom 517 

 12/30/2010 Judge Caseload Transfer. The judge was changed from HEDGE, BROOK to RANKIN, MICHAEL . 

 12/30/2010 Event Scheduled Event: Jury Trial Date: 10/17/2011  Time: 9:00 am Judge: RANKIN, MICHAEL L Location: Courtroom 517 

No paper accompanies this announcement.  And some good news:  The trial date remains fixed.  Some thoughts on the case transfer follows.

We all recall the chatter and commentary when the criminal case was shifted from the courtly, Carter appointee, Old Man Weisberg, to Judge Lynn Leibovitz, the Bush43 law and order hard ass. 

There was endless speculation on what it meant for the proceedings, motions and actual trial.  Well, we know how that turned out and now Leibovitz belongs to the ages.

Rankin too, may appear to be a law and order judge: A Reagan appointee, military service in Nam, AUSA, DeputyChief of the Felony Trial Division, and Presiding Judge of the Criminal and Special Operations Divisions of Superior Court.

We’ll do a more thorough profile of him in the coming weeks.  But we’ve given up reading robes and tea leaves.  We don’t know when we’ll get our first glimpse of Rankin.  No status hearing dates have been set for the out months.  Maybe there will be some rulings on motions ahead or perhaps he’s asked to inject himself on another depo/5th Amendment matter.

And in other news regarding the Vidocq Society, this news just broke from Philly:

Private eye questions if death was murder
Philadelphia Daily News

A PROMINENT Philadelphia crime sleuth is speculating that the region’s high-profile murder mystery – the shocking discovery of ex-Pentagon official John “Jack” Wheeler III in a Wilmington landfill – might not be a murder at all.

William Fleisher, an ex-cop who co-founded Philadelphia’s murder-solving Vidocq Society, said that the discovery of eyewitnesses and surveillance video of a disoriented Wheeler before he died suggests that the 66-year-old man had suffered a head or brain injury.

8 comments for “Ranking Rankin

  1. Rich
    01/07/2011 at 12:05 PM

    As predicted and previously stated sometime ago:

    “Rankin is Ready.”

    Was never quite clear sometime ago why there was a notion that it wasn’t a done deal.

    It’s been done for quite some time now..

    We move forward.

    And, for those who do not know Rankin:

    “Fasten Your Seatbelts.”

    • denton
      01/07/2011 at 2:30 PM

      Rich – A little taste of the new Judge…

      …and, perhaps, the way that this murder took place and how it was handled…may give us some different ideas to Wone’s case.

      D.C. Superior Court:

      On December 13, 2010, Jose Portillo, 22, was convicted by a Jury of first degree felony murder and other charges in the November 2008 slayings of Virginia and Michael Spevak, who were attacked while in their Northwest Washington home.

      Portillo was the third and final defendant to be convicted in the case. Two others earlier pleaded guilty to charges and are awaiting sentencing.

      The Jury convicted Portillo of a total of 15 charges, including first degree felony murder with aggravating circumstances, second degree murder while armed, armed robbery of a senior citizen, burglary, theft and weapons offenses. The defendant faces a maximum penalty of life in prison with no possibility of release.

      The Honorable Judge Michael L. Rankin, who presided at trial, set a sentencing date for Portillo of March 10, 2011.

      According to evidence presented at trial, on November 20, 2008, Portillo, along with the two former co-defendants, entered the Spevaks’ home in the 5300 block of Belt Road NW. Their intention was to burglarize the home. Portillo went into the Spevak’s house armed with a gun.

      He confronted Mrs. Spevak, 67, with the gun – pointing it to her face. He also tied her up with a telephone cord prior to her being murdered. Mr. Spevak, 68, also was slain by the intruders. Both of the victims died from stab wounds. Portillo removed a laptop and other property from the home after the murders were committed. He was arrested in March of 2009.

      The other defendants, Peiro F. Hernandez, 23, and Angela Hernandez-Rivera, 22, were arrested within a week of the murders. Hernandez pleaded guilty in January of 2009 to second degree murder while armed. Hernandez-Rivera pleaded guilty in August of 2009 to second degree murder while armed and burglary. Peiro Hernandez testified for the prosecution during Portillo’s trial.

      “This was not a random crime.” “These criminals targeted a couple that was known for their generosity, warmth, and kindness. There is no greater satisfaction than an outcome like this verdict today,” said Chief Lanier.

      There were long list of Detectives, Lieutenants, Sergeants, Officers, Technicians, Fingerprint Specialist, DNA Examiner, and the D.C. medical examiner’s office that the U.S. Attorney Machen and Chief Lanier commended for their efforts in the end of her announcement.

      …and the case was closed.

      What can we learn from it?

      • Rich
        01/07/2011 at 2:52 PM


        Rankin is on the record a a Homicide guy!

        He shoud have had the Criminal case.

        He will draw conlusions from the Civil Case which might support more Criminal Charges.

        • denton
          01/07/2011 at 2:55 PM

          Rich – You sound just about right! Homicide is his middle name and as you said “Fasten Your Seatbelts.” It will be a wild ride!

          • Clio
            01/08/2011 at 10:29 AM

            I do like Michael’s beard: it’s very “Just For Men.” And, I do like his purported efficiency and military service record. But a jury will ultimately decide this case, and both Brook and Michael seem more than capable to bring this stage to a conclusion before, say, the Iowa primary of next year or, less optimistically, the Mayan end of days in December 2012.

            • denton
              01/08/2011 at 5:38 PM

              Clio – Unless there are UFO visiting the earth before the Doomsday, the Jury panel probably discover some answers by the end of November 2011 (4-6 weeks, give or take from October 17, 2011 which is the trial date). By then all bloggers here probably have mastered using “Just For Men But Also Made For Women” already!

  2. Rich
    01/07/2011 at 2:20 PM

    Really please to get positive press on the call to Lanier.

    Frankly, I was very disappointed with it as I was not focused nor paying attention.

    Had I put thought to what I was doing at the moment, I would have pressed her on Vidocq Society or anyone of the other matters pending?

    I knew she due on WTOP since I’m a WTOP groupie. And, I had thought of calling in on the Wone case for more information, but, did nothing about it until Criag posted her arrival.

    I’ve called in before and have gotten through and went on the air.

    Shame we didn’t fully leverage the moment.

    Next time.

  3. Clio
    01/08/2011 at 3:05 PM

    The annual Mid-Atlantic Leather Festival is next weekend: will our boys be in attendance? Editors, will you be sending representatives to see if they do show?

    I am guessing that they will not be at the festivities: Dyl has his outcalls in Miami, and the Miami Shores house does need prepped for permanent settlement. Most significantly, Joe probably would prefer not to take the older and more staid Victor to such celebrations of gear and kink. But, then again, that’s just my opinion.

Comments are closed.