August: DuPont Circle

 The Long, Hot Summer

There’s been zero movement or any new filings made to the Wone docket on the Superior Court public database since May 25.  A few deadlines have passed since then: June 1 – all discovery was to have closed, and July 1 was to have been the deadline for filing motions.

One more deadline looms, August 1 for all dispositive motions to be decided. 

Next Monday, a day before the 5th anniversary of Robert’s murder is also a key date on the schedule calendar; there is a motions hearing scheduled before Judge Michael Rankin at 1:45pm. 

That hearing was added to the calendar back on May 5 and with news of a possible settlement and no new motions added to the database, we wondered whether or not the session would take place.

Court staff confirmed that the motions hearing is still a go.  Perhaps that afternoon we’ll have some indication of what the next few months look like, if settlement negotiations are still ongoing, and if we should prepare for an October trial.

There’s been a lot of talk about a possible settlement with very little news or comment to go by.  Some feel that an agreement may be in the works, but it isn’t global – meaning one or two of the threesome has cut a deal, leaving only one or two to face trial this fall. If that’s the case, the planned 4-5 week October trial could be truncated and far shorter than expected.  Who knows? Monday could provide some answers.

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14 comments for “August: DuPont Circle

  1. susan
    07/26/2011 at 8:27 PM

    Thanks for the update.

    Question to anyone who may have the answer: Re the deadline for discovery and filing motions. Since those deadlines have passed and since apparently no new motions were filed, is that it? Or could there be a reinstatement of new deadlines for filing motions, etc.? And the same question re discovery. Would we, the public know whether there was further discovery or if requests for discovery were complied with by that date? Do mediation talks allow for rescheduling of those dates?

    Thanks.

    • susan
      07/26/2011 at 10:14 PM

      In thinking about this, if any kind of logic applies to the court process, the parties would not forfeit their right to proceed with their right to filing motions, etc. by entering into this process, since the possibility always exists that mediation will fail.

  2. Jeana
    07/26/2011 at 9:30 PM

    If a trial is still in the works,it would be surprising that the July 1 motions deadline would pass by without a peep -either new motions filed or an Order extending the deadline. Is it possible that there’s a sealed Order or one signed by the Judge but not yet filed with the Clerk?

    Judges love to have cases settle and no doubt Judge Rankin doesn’t want to get in the way of negotiations by holding to deadlines. But the passing of the July 1 deadline makes me think that there are some pretty serious negotiations going on and that the Judge believes the odds are pretty good for achieving agreement. IMHO it also points toward a global rather than partial settlement.

    I’m sure some of our civil matter attorneys have some experience in this regard, and can tell me if I’m way off base. 🙂

    • Bill Orange
      07/28/2011 at 1:45 AM

      I really don’t know what to make of this. There are only a few scenarios I can imagine where there would be a global settlement:

      1. The defendants have convinced Kathy Wone that they really had nothing to do with Robert’s murder. I can’t see how they would have done this, considering how many 5th amendment invocations they’ve already made.

      2. The defendants have found some dirt on either Robert or Kathy Wone, and Kathy Wone is folding rather than letting this information go public. Hard for me to see how this one would really work, either.

      3. Covington is convinced that they’re going to lose the statute of limitations argument on appeal and are advising a settlement. Again, unlikely, as (a) I don’t they’ll lose that appeal, and (b) even if they do, Kathy Wone has a good chance of shaking something loose in the trial that will reveal who murdered her husband, even if the jury’s decision is thrown out on appeal.

      4. The three defendants have cut some sort of grand bargain to throw someone else under the bus. Many people here have speculated that, assuming the defendants are guilty, there was at least one other person involved here who, at a minimum, removed evidence from the crime scene. Kathy Wone may have agreed to drop her civil suit in exchange for the defendants’ testimony against this other person (or people). This would likely involve some co-ordination with the prosecutor (who, wouldn’t you know, was chatting with Kathy Wone in court just a few months ago).

      Again, all are possibilities, but I don’t think any are terribly likely. Can anyone else think of anything?

      • Jeana
        07/28/2011 at 9:39 AM

        It will be interesting to see what, if anything, issues from Judge Rankin on August 1st. Is it possible the D’s are letting the clock run to August 1st, confident that their SOL argument is a slam dunk? Covington would never fall for that and allow discovery and motion deadlines to elapse. More likely the parties, in conference with the Judge, have agreed to put the litigation on hold while they try to hammer out an agreement – whatever that will – or won’t in the end – be.

        • Hoya Loya
          07/28/2011 at 11:50 AM

          Jeana:

          I agree with your last suggestion. In my experience, a judge will use a trial date to stimulate a settlement, but will not allow a trial date or scheduling order to derail a settlement that may be in the works, so long as the parties keep the judge informed of progress.

      • susan
        07/28/2011 at 11:51 AM

        Other possibilities were reported when the mediation began. For instance, Covington and Ms. Wone could have weighed their options and realized that settling now would be the best option, due to any number of reasons, including–no suggestion that greater information about WMRW is forthcoming from discovery; stress on the Wone family; best financial option, especially since Ms. Wone was financially affected by RW’s murder, and she spent a long time not working, not paying bills, faced with the horror of her husband’s murder.

        • susan
          07/28/2011 at 4:48 PM

          I was just looking at that Harry Jaffe article in which Ms. Wone gave an interview. Here are a few small excerpts from that article:

          “Right after Robert died, my world was blown into so many pieces—not even pieces but mountains of ash,” she [said].

          ******

          At a friend’s house after the funeral, Ragone asked a female friend: “How did the intruder get into Joe’s house?”
          The friend looked at her as if she were crazy and said: “Oh, there was no intruder.”

          *****
          In November, she returned to work part-time at the American Health Lawyers Association.

          • susan
            07/28/2011 at 4:56 PM

            I meant to include this from H. Jaffe’s interview with Ms. Wone, which relates to my initial post:

            Kathy Wone’s life was falling apart.

            She couldn’t stay alone in the Oakton townhouse. Her older brother stayed with her for a few weeks, but he had to return to Phoenix. She stayed with friends for the next seven months. Bills from the townhouse piled up. She didn’t care whether the bank foreclosed.

            “My accomplishment of the day was getting out of bed, taking a shower, and making it to the breakfast table,” Kathy says. “The mere act of existing was almost unbearable. I was convinced I would never know happiness again.”

            Emotional costs, financial costs. In that article K. Wone says she “loved” being married to R. Wone. It sounds like they had a true romance, a beautiful love.

            I can’t imagine whoever murdered Robert Wone can experience true love, having taken even a knife to this bond between two people.

            • mw
              07/29/2011 at 12:05 PM

              I don’t think someone has to be in bad financial shape to accept a financial settlement and just move forward.

              Everyone deals with grief differently, obviously. I think there’s an assumption that Kathy is obsessed with finding out WMRW, but that’s just an assumption. I knew a family that lost a daughter to murder – they weren’t particularly interested in the prosecution, appeal, conviction being thrown out, re-trial. None of that was going to bring their daughter back. At some point they found peace in that and stopped living and dying with the justice system. That’s just another personal approach. Kathy deciding to take a big check, and just leaving these terrible people behind, just cutting them out and moving forward would be a sensible and rational decision, IMO, (depending on one’s own sensibiliities, of course.)

              • susan
                07/29/2011 at 10:00 PM

                Agree, MW that there doesn’t need to be a financial issue to take a settlement, don’t agree entirely with Bill O’s certainty re Ms. Wone’s financial situation because neither he nor I know what it is. I posted the points above in response to “all the scenarios he could imagine” and wondering if there could be more. I think there could be more and a few of those ideas were in my post, supported by statements from Ms. W’s interview with H. Jaffe last year.

        • Bill Orange
          07/29/2011 at 10:24 AM

          My impression from the article was that “bills were piling up” because Kathy Wone was just too grief-stricken to deal with them, not because she was in bad shape financially. If Robert really had no life insurance, and she really is in bad financial shape, I’d be happy to donate to a fund for her.

  3. Clio
    07/27/2011 at 5:57 AM

    If the settlement is less than global, than why apparently are the trouple living happily ever after together in Miami Shores? The elephants in those cupcake-colored chaise lounges by their postage-stamp-sized pool may be larger than previously discerned. Treachery awaits!

    • 07/27/2011 at 10:27 AM

      I agree, Dear Clio. I can’t believe that any separate settlement would be agreeable with the others. Seems hard to believe that such negotiations could be going on, but the 3 are living together. But, I guess anything is possible in this case.

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