A Quash Down

DC Attorney General answers defendants call for MPD records…and calls them cheap

Early in the new year, Joe Price et al served the MPD with a subpoena requesting all the documents in their possession relating to their investigation into the murder of Robert Wone., including detective’s notes and correspondence with Kathy Wone regarding the autopsy.  Now, the DC Attorney Generals’ office has answered their request with their own Motion to Quash.

The government contends that protecting law enforcement’s privilege, which includes protecting the confidentiality of sources, law enforcement strategies and accumulated evidence, outweighs civil discovery interests. They claim it could have chilling effect on witnesses, and would have a negative impact by disclosing identities of people who have given information. 

The DC Attorney General bases his arguments in what looks to be the case the the Superior Court that directly applies on this matter, Kay v. Pick, of which, the AG notes that the defendant does not even address any of those factors in his Notice of Deposition Due Tecum.

Then the AG spells out why this privlege is so vital to this particluar case.

The motion reads, “The potential suspects and suspects’ cohorts have an incentive to ensure that additional evidence is not provided to the police or that the witnesses cease their cooperation with law enforcement.”  If the “potential suspects and suspects cohorts” by chance means the defendants in the civil suit and their friends, then AG seems to be calling the defendants bluff.  Are they saying the defendants don’t want the information just to mount a vigorous defense but rather they’re aiming to prevent a criminal indictment by stopping further people from cooperating with the MPD?

But, if all these smart legal arguments, which look to be well established in case law, aren’t enough to convince Judge Rankin to quash the supboena, the AG lobs one argument in that is too delish not to mention.  They call out the defendants for being cheap when they note,  “Moreover, defendant has failed to provide funds to cover the cost of producing the documents in response to his requests.” Ouch.

One of the most interesting tidbits looks to be how Dylan Ward’s counsel, Schertler & Onorato, seems to have taken on a new client — Joe Price.  In the closing note they say that in liue of appearing for the subpeona that MPD can comply by just sending all the documents requested to “counsel for Joseph R. Price to Schertler & Onarato.”  Looks like Robert Spagnoletti, who said he would be taking a back seat in the civil case, has not only reversed that course, but even moved back into the driver’s seat for not just one of the Swann Street housemates, but now two as he goes toe to toe with the folks in the office that he once led himself.

MPD Motion to Quash

Defense Document Subpoena – Records

28 comments for “A Quash Down

  1. AnnaZed
    03/03/2011 at 12:52 PM

    Wow, crazy. They seem to be accusing the guys of witness tampering before the fact … or something.

  2. boofoc
    03/03/2011 at 3:41 PM

    The DC AG’s response would seem to indicate to me that the government intends to resist, on the basis of the law-enforcement privilege, all efforts – of both parties – to force its participation in the civil trial by supplying any information in its criminal files on these defendants; a valid and appropriate position under applicable law.

    The question that immediately comes to mind: will the government’s employees be instructed to invoke the same privilege and refuse to testify; if not, the AG’s well reasoned position, and its purpose, is totally undermined. Thus both parties will be deprived of the testimony of the investigating officers and all others who assisted in preparing and/or presenting the criminal prosecution. Through whose testimony will the plaintiff prove her case, as is her burden? Will the AG endeavor to control others of those who testified on the government’s behalf in the criminal trial, those who are not its employees? Presumably not.

    The immediate question for Judge Rankin’s attention: will he consider the defendants to have waived their right to argue the Kay v. Pick “factors” in accordance with the McPeek rationale; that’s only advisory for him. It might give a sense of his judicial temperment, so to speak.

    • Craig
      03/03/2011 at 5:15 PM

      Does Jencks/Brady come into play in a civil or was that all just criminal discovery thigies as it pertained to law enforcement?

  3. boofoc
    03/03/2011 at 4:01 PM

    Obviously, the AG is affirming in this motion to quash – in writing and in no uncertain terms – that these defendants continue to be suspects in the case of Robert Wone’s murder, and their refusal to answer questions that “tend to incriminate” still has a valid basis, i.e., they may damn well incriminate. But, the answers that are not given in response to valid, pertinent questions may be interpreted by jurors to, in fact, incriminate; jurors may infer. Those damnable inferences!

  4. Bill Orange
    03/04/2011 at 4:35 AM

    Shouldn’t the defendants have access to all of this information from the discovery from criminal trial?

    • David
      03/04/2011 at 9:58 AM

      Bill,

      The AG essentially made that point in their motion, which again highlighted the futility of their argument.

      David

      • Bill Orange
        03/04/2011 at 8:25 PM

        That seems like a pretty big miss to me. What do the lawyers think about this? If you’ve got a client who’s being tried for crimes that relate to a murder, wouldn’t you ask the police for everything that they’ve got that’s related to the murder? That sounds like Discovery 101 to me. I don’t think that Mrs Wone had anything to do with her husband’s death, but if I were a criminal defense attorney in this case, I’d want to know everything about her. Even if the client has told you flat-out that they’re guilty, I think you’d STILL want to know everything there is to know about the spouse. She was a key witness for the prosecution, after all.

        • Kate
          03/07/2011 at 9:18 AM

          Interesting thoughts, Bill O – perhaps the Defense wants more information about Kathy Wone and her dealings with the MPD due to the Statute of Limitations issue? In other words, what did the MPD tell her and WHEN?

          It appears to my non-legal mind that the Defense is very seriously pursuing having the civil case dismissed on the SoL issue?

          Regards,
          Kate

          • Bill Orange
            03/07/2011 at 12:23 PM

            I agree with KiKi that they’re really going to push this on appeal (assuming that they lose at trial), but I’m still stunned that they didn’t go after all of this information during the criminal trial. They were essentially accused of being involved in the murder of Robert Wone. Your best chance at reasonable doubt in a situation like that is to offer an alternative culprit, and your best alternative culprit in a murder case is the spouse of the victim. I don’t think Kathy Wone had anything to do with her husband’s death, but I think it borders on malpractice that the defense attorneys didn’t find out everything they could about her.

  5. boofoc
    03/04/2011 at 12:59 PM

    Craig: Brady v. Maryland and the Jencks Act have application in Federal criminal cases only (6th Amendment, U.S. Constitution); neither has any application in civil litigation. My discussion above concerning discovery referred only to the pending civil action inasmuch as there is no criminal litigation pending involving you-know-whom(s). But save all your notes on these and any other Federal criminal rules of evidence and Federal rules of criminal procedure; they will be useful in following the upcoming trial of U.S. v. Joseph P., et al. (fill in the blanks, as appropriate).

  6. Michael
    03/04/2011 at 2:12 PM

    There is a substantial amount of people who have quit posting/replying to these WMRW articles.

    I do believe the trouple’s “Innocence Ship” is sinking.

    • Bill 2
      03/04/2011 at 8:30 PM

      Comments aren’t always needed. When the papers from the courthouse have been posted with the moderators explaining and highlighting, sometimes it seems that everything is covered from all angles. We read it, try to absorb it, and quietly nod in agreement. When something isn’t clear, someone always jumps in with a question and that usually gets a clear reply. When there isn’t a substantial amount of people posting and replying, I figure that the moderators have covered all the bases.

    • 03/06/2011 at 1:11 PM

      I, for one, am still reading. When I have something to add, I will. Don’t assume otherwise, Michael.

  7. Dieter
    03/04/2011 at 2:20 PM

    It might be because most of the posts and comments aren’t worth replying to, skipper

    • Craig
      03/04/2011 at 4:48 PM

      Oh Dieter – How we’ve missed those snappy bon mots and rejoinders of yours… I bet they come across better in the original German.

      Coming Monday: The Plaintiffs release their list of potential expert witnesses – the Rule 26(B)(4) Statement in legal parlance. Some familiar faces, some new. And maybe some indication of how Cov sees the trial unfolding.

      • Clio
        03/07/2011 at 6:43 PM

        Will any psychological experts on BDSM practices be called? Any curators from leather history archives and museums? Any social science scholars of the trouble with trouples? I cannot wait to find out!

  8. boofoc
    03/04/2011 at 2:52 PM

    Dieter: If your not-worth-replying-to comment was meant for me, ‘cuse moi!

  9. Dieter
    03/04/2011 at 3:45 PM

    No @ Mikey

  10. Bea
    03/04/2011 at 7:42 PM

    I too like that the Motion says that the cheap defendants didn’t pony up the Kinko’s fee even if they were entitled to the documents!

  11. Randy Weiss
    03/07/2011 at 1:09 PM

    You know, several of us here have naturally been reading this website for a while. At times, we’re enlightened. Other times, we’re amused. Most times, we’re ticked off! We still don’t seem to understand the disarray on the site. I see some people talk about dozens of items that have no bearing on the case.

    I also see some who post away just to hear/see themselves speak – Clio, for example. Most of the postings are interesting. But when certain posters drive us off the road, we all lose focus on the case. Editors, Can you try to keep us ‘Who Do This For A Living’ at least feel “our work has some merit?”

    • Craig
      03/07/2011 at 4:44 PM

      Randy – I’m not sure I understand what you mean by disarray. It looks mostly arrayed to me.

      You do what exactly for a living? If it’s the law, then where have you been during the last month in which seven key plaintiff and defense filings have been posted and discussed?

      • Randy Weiss
        03/11/2011 at 5:15 PM

        Dear Craig,

        What a warm welcome! I didn’t expect quick replies from any of your staff, but thanks for your “very friendly” “special attention” – especially AnnaZed! Exactly what I do for a living and my aka is something we will discuss when I see you again (often) at what you do here! As for the rest, I do keep my log ahead of you. Never mind the blog, I don’t need to read as much as you do.

        Best,
        RW

    • AnnaZed
      03/07/2011 at 4:56 PM

      To put it more succinctly, what the fuck are you talking about?

      Besides, without Clio this would be a dull place.

      just sayin’

    • Bea
      03/07/2011 at 5:27 PM

      Not to dogpile, but I am curious about your comment re “who do this for a living.” A number of us are lawyers – and a new one is always welcome especially since our practices are quite varied. And perhaps I’m one of the posters who “drive us off the road” as well but I must also defend Clio’s honor!

    • Clio
      03/07/2011 at 6:22 PM

      Thanks, fellow goddesses and members of the Thought Police: we’ve really been at this noble effort for a long time, and it’s seems as if the defense camp’s patience is finally wearing thin. To me, that means that we and our Editors are doing exactly what any stoic hero or heroine of antiquity would be doing if they had only had computer access and literacy back then. We’re seeking the truth, and some people, who may be largely fellow travelers of the cult of Culuket, cannot handle the truth!

    • susan
      03/07/2011 at 11:25 PM

      Hey Randy,

      You’ve had a lot of replies to your post, but with anything anyone is dissatisfied with, I suppose you could do what Gandhi said and “Be the change you’d like to see in the world.” Post comments and information you find relevant. If posts don’t interest you, don’t read them.

      As for me, this blog would be so much less than it is if not for the wonderful and amazing nonpareil Clio, and Clio’s posts. The writing, the wit, the humor, the insight, the history–did I mention wit? History? Charm? Wit? Wit? And beauty too. I’m an unabashed fan.

      • Clio
        03/08/2011 at 9:39 AM

        Thanks, Susan, for those kind words, but my hope is that Team Covington brings superb writing, wit, insight, beauty, and, of course, history to the table. Washington and Lee’s Glenn turned out to be a dud, but PapaRazi’s snazzier suits do give one credible hope.

  12. Clio
    03/08/2011 at 9:56 AM

    Spag, the little lavender sparkplug that could, is “in the driver’s seat” for Dyl and now Joe. Why? Spag’s knowledge of the DC AG office, and his subcultural knowledge of and, maybe, affinity for the defendants’ precise proclivities may add to his considerable theatrical and interviewing skills: he’s camera ready for either Broadway or Lifetime TV (unlike Culuket and Sparkly Cat!)

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