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MPD Motion to Quash

MPD Motion to Quash

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Published by: DcSleuth on Mar 03, 2011
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04/21/2014

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SUPERIOR COURTFOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIACIVIL DIVISION____________________________________ )ESTATE OF ROBERT E. WONE, )By Katherine E. Wone ))Plaintiff, ) 2008 ca 8315) Judge Michael L. Rankinv. ))JOSEPH R. PRICE,
et al.,
))Defendants.             )___________________________________  )MOTION TO QUASH OF NON-PARTY THEMETROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENDANT JOSEPH PRICE’SSUBPEONA TO PRODUCE DOCUMENTS AND OTHER INFORMATION
Non-party the Metropolitan Police Department (“MPD”) moves to quash the subpoena of defendant, Joseph Price, which requests that MPD release highly confidential, privilegedinformation that is of minimal relevance to the actual claims and defenses in this case. Asexplained more fully
infra
, this Court should quash defendant’s subpoena.
I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND
On August 2, 2006, Robert E. Wone was killed while at defendants’ home, located at 1509Swann Street, N.W. in Washington, D.C. On November 25, 2008, plaintiff filed a lawsuitagainst the defendants for wrongful death, negligence, spoliation of evidence and conspiracy.On May 17, 2010 a criminal trial against the defendants commenced.  The defendants werecharged with tampering with evidence, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy to obstruct justice.The trial ended on June 29, 2010.   The criminal trial court dismissed the tampering chargesagainst defendants Victor Zaborsky and Dylan Ward.  All defendants were acquitted on all
 
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remaining counts.  On January 14, 2011, defendant served on MPD a subpoena for a depositionduces tecum, requesting:all documents in his possession, custody and control listed below. .. . 1) All files relating to Robert Eric Wone: Date of Birth 6/1/74;Social Security Number: 095-66-xxxx.  All documents producedshall be for the period 8/2/06 to present. 2) All documents in thepossession or control of the Metropolitan Police Departmentrelated to the investigation of the death of Robert Eric Wone: Dateof Birth: 6/1/74; Social Security Number: 095-66-xxxx, includingbut not limited to the case files of the Metropolitan PoliceDepartment employees who conducted testing related to the deathof Robert Eric Wone.  3) All correspondence with KatherineWone, the Estate of Robert Eric Wone, or their attorneys, agents,and/or representatives, regarding the autopsy of Robert Eric Woneand the investigation relating to his death.  4) All working files(both hard copy and electronic), notes, or memoranda of theMetropolitan Police Department relating to the death of RobertEric Wone.  5) All documents identifying employees of theMetropolitan Police Department who have investigated or conducted research relating to the death of Robert Eric Wone.  6)All records in the control of the following employees of theMetropolitan Police Department relating to the investigation of thedeath of Robert Eric Wone: Detective Bryan Waid; DetectiveDanny Whalen: Detective Wagner: and, Detective Norris.Exh. A, Subpoena.  Undersigned counsel was informed by the General Counsel’s Office for MPD that, because the documents relate to an ongoing criminal investigation, MPD could notprovide the requested documents to defendant.  Moreover, defendant has failed to provide fundsto cover the cost of producing the documents in response to his requests.
 
II. LEGAL STANDARD
Superior Court Civil Procedure Rule 26(b)(1) permits parties to obtain discoveryregarding matters that are not privileged. In this case, the information the parties seek isprotected by the law enforcement privilege.
 
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The law enforcement privilege is a qualifiedprivilege recognized at common law that is designed to protectongoing investigations from premature disclosure, disruption, andcompromise. The purpose of the privilege is to protect theconfidentiality of sources as well as law enforcement strategies andaccumulated evidence. The privilege is a conditional one that mustbe asserted with particularity by a high official of the lawenforcement agency who is both authorized to assert the privilegeon behalf of the agency and who is in a position to know that theprivilege is necessary. The assertion of the privilege must beformal and delineated. The party claiming the privilege must have(1) seen and considered the contents of the documents and (2)himself formed the view that on grounds of public interest, theyought not be produced, (3) state with specificity the rationale of theclaimed privilege [namely, 3(a)] specifying which documents or class of documents are privileged and [3(b)] for what reasons.Once the privilege has been properly claimed, the burdenshifts to the party seeking the documents and testimony todemonstrate a need for the materials and the lack of harm thatwould result from disclosure. The court must then balance thepublic interest in non-disclosure against the need asserted. A list of factors to be considered by the trial judge in conducting thisbalancing process was identified in) and has oft been cited since.When weighing the competing interests, the trial court mustevaluate: (1) the extent to which disclosure will thwartgovernmental processes by discouraging citizens from giving thegovernment information; (2) the impact upon persons who havegiven information of having their identities disclosed: (3) thedegree to which governmental self-evaluation and consequentprogram improvement will be chilled by disclosure; (4) whether the information sought is factual data or evaluative summary; (5)whether the party seeking discovery is an actual or potentialdefendant in any criminal proceeding either pending or reasonablylikely to follow from the incident in question; (6) whether thepolice investigation has been completed; (7) whether anyinterdepartmental disciplinary proceedings have arisen or mayarise from the investigation; (8) whether the appellant's suit is non-frivolous and brought in good faith; (9) whether the informationsought is available through other discovery or from other sources;

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