Stonewall Uprising

Plaintiffs Continue to Work for Answers

This may be the first occasion in this case in which we see a filing that uses the word, “irony.”   

Judge Michael L. Rankin: Front row on right

Entered this week is the Plaintff’s Motion to Compel Answers to Requests for Admission and Interrogatories.  According to Covington, the Swann Street defendants, “declined to admit, deny, plead insufficient information, or otherwise answer, based.. on inappropriate Fifth amendment privilege claims…”

In a 25 page document that includes 11 redacted exhibits (filed under seal), counsel for Kathy Wone ask for proper relief and an oral hearing to hammer out this issue that has seemed to have been front and center, without a definitive ruling, since December. 

Winter has given way to spring; the summer will fly by and and soon it will be autumn. 

The motion follows.

The accompanying Memorandum in Support lays out the claims and arguments.

“Since the January 31 Motion was filed, in response to recent written discovery requests, Defendants have once again refused entirely to provide even the most basic discovery regarding the claims and their defenses in this case…

…In response to to virtually every single one of Mrs. Wone’s requests for Admission and Interrogatories, Defendants “declined” to answer on the basis that answering would incriminate them.

…All Defendants asserted a handful of relevance objections, failing to appreciate the irony of contending that the information Mrs. Wone seeks is both irrelevant and incriminating, even though that cannot plausibly be so.”

As far as the Threesome being under the threat of future criminal prosecution for their Fifth claims, the filing sites:

“The standard for evaluating incrimination…. as a longstanding US Supreme Court (case):

“The privilege against self-incrimination… does not extend to remote possibilities out of the ordinary course of law.  It would be to convert a salutary protection into a means of abuse if it were to be held that a mere imaginary possibility of danger, however remote or improbable, was sufficient to justify the withholding of evidence essential to the ends of justice.”

Covington maintains this “blackout of discovery” will severely prejudice Mrs. Wone’s case.

Bottom line: the attached proposed order asks to compel the housemates to reappear and answer perhaps as many as 504 questions they refused to answer in their depositions.

We don’t know what else is on the calendar of the inheritor of this case, Judge Michael Rankin, but it seems like these motions are starting to back up awaiting his rulings or the scheduling of oral arguments in a status.  October 17 still seems like a long way off, but no one wants to see this alleged stonewalling, or possible motion bottleneck, jeopardize the trial date.

Plaintff’s Motion to Compel Answers to Requests for Admission and Interrogatories.

18 comments for “Stonewall Uprising

  1. Bea
    03/31/2011 at 3:31 PM

    Got to love the defendants’ duplicitous statement that information about what THEY told Kathy Wone about that night is both irrelevant and likely to incriminate them! Like hoping to pull out the Statute of Limitations when they won’t say what they told her (since “knowing” is critical in SOL determinations).

    I do wonder if the defense will continue to push the 5th issue all the way, see how much they can get away with, and in the end simply allow a default rather than divulge anything. The insurance company would then try to avoid paying (at least avoid paying the limits) and the defendants would try to stay judgment proof. Not so hard for Dylan, and when Needham and Diane pass away, they can likely put the cash in some kind of trust to avoid being garnished, but do Joe and Victor worry enough about criminal charges that they’d rather have their wages (what they are) garnished for the rest of their lives?

    • Bill Orange
      03/31/2011 at 4:19 PM

      I don’t think they have much choice other than to push the 5th Amendment as far as it takes them. They’re still in very serious legal jeopardy. I tend to side with the defense on the 5th Amendment issue–there’s very little that they can say at this point that won’t be incriminating.

      And I’m with you on the insurance company. I’m a bit surprised that their insurance company hasn’t turned on them already, but you can bet your ass that it’ll turn on them if they’re liable for anything more than negligence.

    • Hoya Loya
      03/31/2011 at 7:03 PM

      The’re going for the default.

      The whole point of this case is to produce evidence that will determine what happened to Robert and lead to murder charges.

      If they don’t talk, that won’t happen. Their assets are already protected and wages probably be claimed to be minimal.

      So they’ll take the default and sit tight … at least until the intruder is caught.

      • david
        03/31/2011 at 9:27 PM

        Hoya,

        The situation you describe, of which I agree, also means that even though those assets are currently protected, such as inheritance, retirement savings, valuables, and/or property — will now be subjected to garnishment if the jury finds for the plaintiff, and if they hope to touch them, that means they will now be subject to garnishment. Until the garnishment is satisfied every major financial juncture of the defandants’ lives will have Plaintiff Kathy Wone, as representative of Robert Wone, at the table. Year after year, decade after decade, every major financial meeting, every email concerning a major financial decision, every major financial discussion, Robert will be there. For the rest of their lives.

        This is where the defendants are in their legal jeopardy. They are willing to take a life time of financial garnishment in return for never speaking, not even an utterance or a peep, about the events of August 2, 2006.

        That’s the bargain they seem to be making through their current legal actions. As a result of their choices, this is what their lives have become.

        David, co-editor

        • Bea
          03/31/2011 at 10:08 PM

          I’m on the fence if the defendants will genuinely take a default judgment rather than risk saying anything, although clearly they will be rigorous in discovery/motion wars to see what they can keep out (and worry about the jury’s impressions later).

          If they do take a default judgment rather than “talk” about that night, I only hope the full meaning of this is gleaned by their inner circle. Instead of telling all about what you know happened, you’re giving up millions of dollars and a lifetime of liens and garnishments – hard to believe that a truly innocent person would do such a thing.

          • Bill Orange
            04/01/2011 at 4:47 PM

            I’m curious as to whether or not they even have an inner circle any more. The only real supporters they seemed to have at the trial were Victor’s parents and Lisa Goddard. (I think Dylan’s parents want to keep him out of jail, but they don’t particularly want him close to home.) I think Lisa will stand by Joe until the bitter end. I’m curious about Victor’s parents. We aren’t talking about the Keystone Cops anymore. We’re talking about a woman who wants to know how her husband ended up getting stabbed to death in their son’s guest bedroom.

            • CDinDC (boycott BP)
              04/01/2011 at 7:28 PM

              It’ll be interesting if they have a “cheering section” at the civil trial.

              Didn’t Lisa G disassociate herself in someway recently? I thought her name came up recently, but I can’t remember why. Maybe the Eds remember?

              • Clio
                04/01/2011 at 7:55 PM

                Lisa G. was not on the list of witnesses — why?

                Does the former trouple’s Defense Fund still exist? Is it still taking donations? Have any other solicitations gone out after the initial appeal in November 2008? If not, their cheering section will probably be quite small.

        • Hoya Loya
          04/01/2011 at 8:28 AM

          David:

          It sounds awful doesn’t it? But not as awful as hard time.

          And there are plenty of “judgment proof” former defendants out there who live quite nicely every day despite the threat of garnishment. O.J. couldn’t handle it, but many others can (including the defendant in my sole civil jury trial, 13 years and counting). Especially if there are spouses, siblings, offspring or businesses to serve as accessories or conduits and no paper trail of funds.

          • Bill Orange
            04/01/2011 at 4:40 PM

            Hmmm. I agree that it’s better than hard time, but I think you’re seriously underestimating how bad Kathy Wone can make things for them if they default. Part of the reason that OJ couldn’t handle it is that the Goldman family was pretty persistent in going after his assets after they won their judgement. I think you’re going to see a fairly similar situation here. I don’t think Covington is going to be willing to let this go.

            As you noted, the whole point of this suit is to put pressure on the defendants to reveal what they know. Even at this late point, I can imagine a scenario where one of them flips on the other two. The situation here is almost the reverse of the criminal trial. In that case, if they all kept quiet, they all had a good chance of getting off. In this case, if they all keep quiet, they all have a good chance of getting tagged with a $20 million judgement.

            • Noaharc
              04/01/2011 at 5:54 PM

              I hope all 3 defendents take to heart with advice Star Jones said she gave as a prosecutor–.> There is a 1 train with 1 ticket and 1 stop passing through-take the deal cause the offer is not going to come back. Civil trial as we saw w/ OJ and Robert Blake what the results were.. Even Karla got a sweetheart deal by throwing Paul under the bus and then they found the tapes that she was more active than she claimed but her deal stuck. Like OJ, certain people will hound you through the bowels of hell to collect every cent that they can. And also, they still can be tried criminally on another trial especially if they claim default–who will pay for that.

              • Noaharc
                04/01/2011 at 9:27 PM

                I can’t quite recall but I’m sure there are cases where the person who actually did the crime–got the best deal and testified against the others because they were larger fish. Again relooking at Karla-the movie on Karla/Paul Bernandino–she actually got a very good deal even though tapes the defense later released show different analysis.

            • Bea
              04/01/2011 at 6:38 PM

              I wish I thought there was a chance Victor would flip but I don’t know what would actually trigger him to let go of Joe. A big judgment against Dylan won’t mean THAT much as he’s an all-cash guy for the most part, and garnishments don’t extend to living off the kindness of strangers, er, strange men. His inheritance is the only puzzle, but I’m guessing there’s a trust of sorts where he’s doled out pin money that can be crafted. Leaving Joe – IF he didn’t murder Robert, he’s the only one of the three who is likely to flip. But are his hands clean enough?

  2. boofoc
    04/01/2011 at 4:07 PM

    If only buying freedom from life imprisonment by keeping perfectly silent were absolutely assured – at whatever cost – I’d buy that. But, it’s not. Assured? Your ass. It’s now looking likely that the evidence to be adduced here by plaintiff and her victory in the civil action will pave the way for successful prosecution by the government in a criminal trial. Evidence withheld by defendants on the basis of constitutionally guaranteed self-incrimination means simply that the burden, then shifting to plaintiff, is less onerous. For example, defendants can then be examined as hostile, and, at that point, Benjamin Razi will be in hog’s heaven. (Or will it be Patrick Regan?) I personally would prefer that defendants’ egos don’t allow them to capitulate to default here.

    • Hoya Loya
      04/01/2011 at 6:47 PM

      I’d be more optimistic if the deemed admissions (assuming the defendants refuse to respond to the requests to admit if their Fifth Amendment invocations are shot down by the court) would be admissible in a subsequent criminal trial. Unfortunately, they’re not.

  3. Noaharc
    04/01/2011 at 9:31 PM

    But that’s why Hoya–I hope certain decisions people made whether judge/police or jury made haunts them for the rest of their life as the case they BLEW.

  4. boofoc
    04/01/2011 at 9:53 PM

    Correct, Hoya; that would be too good to be true.

  5. Clio
    04/03/2011 at 5:12 PM

    When will Rankin start pushing this paperwork? No one wants a 2012 gala, but, given this filibustering, will there even be an October surprise?

    Such gratituous use of the Fifth Amendment would make James Madison spin in his grave, if he knew. Even wife Dolley and her divine decorator Benjamin Latrobe would be pissed!

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