Filed D.C.

Superior Court 11 Feb 28 P06:57 Clerk of Court

SUPERIOR COURTFOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIVIL DIVISION ____________________________________ ) ESTATE OF ROBERT E. WONE, ) By Katherine E. Wone ) ) Plaintiff, ) 2008 ca 8315 ) Judge Michael L. Rankin v. ) ) JOSEPH R. PRICE, et al., ) ) Defendants. ) ___________________________________ ) MOTION TO QUASH OF NON-PARTY THE METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENDANT JOSEPH PRICE’S SUBPEONA 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, privileged information that is of minimal relevance to the actual claims and defenses in this case. As explained 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 1509 Swann Street, N.W. in Washington, D.C. On November 25, 2008, plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendants for wrongful death, negligence, spoliation of evidence and conspiracy. On May 17, 2010 a criminal trial against the defendants commenced. The defendants were charged 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 charges

against 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 deposition duces 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 produced shall be for the period 8/2/06 to present. 2) All documents in the possession or control of the Metropolitan Police Department related to the investigation of the death of Robert Eric Wone: Date of Birth: 6/1/74; Social Security Number: 095-66-xxxx, including but not limited to the case files of the Metropolitan Police Department employees who conducted testing related to the death of Robert Eric Wone. 3) All correspondence with Katherine Wone, the Estate of Robert Eric Wone, or their attorneys, agents, and/or representatives, regarding the autopsy of Robert Eric Wone and the investigation relating to his death. 4) All working files (both hard copy and electronic), notes, or memoranda of the Metropolitan Police Department relating to the death of Robert Eric Wone. 5) All documents identifying employees of the Metropolitan 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 the Metropolitan Police Department relating to the investigation of the death of Robert Eric Wone: Detective Bryan Waid; Detective Danny 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 not provide the requested documents to defendant. Moreover, defendant has failed to provide funds to 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 discovery regarding matters that are not privileged. In this case, the information the parties seek is protected by the law enforcement privilege.

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The law enforcement privilege is a qualified privilege recognized at common law that is designed to protect ongoing investigations from premature disclosure, disruption, and compromise. The purpose of the privilege is to protect the confidentiality of sources as well as law enforcement strategies and accumulated evidence. The privilege is a conditional one that must be asserted with particularity by a high official of the law enforcement agency who is both authorized to assert the privilege on behalf of the agency and who is in a position to know that the privilege is necessary. The assertion of the privilege must be formal 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, they ought not be produced, (3) state with specificity the rationale of the claimed 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 burden shifts to the party seeking the documents and testimony to demonstrate a need for the materials and the lack of harm that would result from disclosure. The court must then balance the public interest in non-disclosure against the need asserted. A list of factors to be considered by the trial judge in conducting this balancing process was identified in) and has oft been cited since. When weighing the competing interests, the trial court must evaluate: (1) the extent to which disclosure will thwart governmental processes by discouraging citizens from giving the government information; (2) the impact upon persons who have given information of having their identities disclosed: (3) the degree to which governmental self-evaluation and consequent program 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 potential defendant in any criminal proceeding either pending or reasonably likely to follow from the incident in question; (6) whether the police investigation has been completed; (7) whether any interdepartmental disciplinary proceedings have arisen or may arise from the investigation; (8) whether the appellant's suit is nonfrivolous and brought in good faith; (9) whether the information sought is available through other discovery or from other sources;
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(10) the importance of the information sought to the appellant's case. Kay v. Pick, 711 A.2d 1251, 1256 – 1257 (D.C. 1998) (internal citations and quotations omitted). II. This Court should grant the District's Motion to Quash because 1) disclosure would likely discourage future citizen cooperation with law enforcement and thereby thwart the effectiveness of criminal investigations and 2) the information is of minimal relevance and the parties have made no showing that the information is not available from other sources. Defendant did not addressed any of the Kay v. Pick factors in his Notice of Deposition Dues Tecum. Similar to the plaintiff in McPeek v. Ashcroft1, 202 F.R.D. 332 (D.D.C.2001), defendant “unfortunately ignores … the factors …, and thus never indicate[s] why the weighing of them compels disclosure.” Id. at 336. In McPeek, Magistrate Judge Facciola noted that the “failure to discuss those factors, found in controlling Circuit authority, could be deemed a waiver of any right to do so and require [the judge] to sustain the defendants’ claim of privilege.” Id.
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McPeek v. Ashcroft, a federal matter, applied the Tuite v. Henry, 98 F.3d 1411, 1417 ((D.C. Cir. 1996), factors. The Tuite v. Henry factors are identical to the enumerated Kay v. Pick factors. (1) the extent to which disclosure will thwart governmental processes by discouraging citizens from giving the government information; (2) the impact upon persons who have given information of having their identities disclosed; (3) the degree to which governmental self-evaluation and consequent program 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 potential defendant in any criminal proceeding either pending or reasonably likely to follow from the incident in question; (6) whether the police investigation has been completed; (7) whether any interdepartmental disciplinary proceedings have arisen or may arise from the investigation; (8) whether the plaintiff’s suit is nonfrivolous and brought in good faith; (9) whether the information sought is available through other discovery or from other sources; (10) the importance of the information sought to the plaintiff’s case. Tuite v. Henry, 98 F.3d at 1417, citing Frankenhauser v. Rizzo, 59 F.R.D. 339, 344 (E.D. Pa. 1973).
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MPD urges this Court to follow the suggestion of Magistrate Judge Facciola and find that defendant waived his right to the privileged documents, and sustain the MPD’s claim of privilege. Should this Court choose to decide the issue on the merits, however, MPD

demonstrates below that application of the Kay v. Pick factors weigh in favor of sustaining MPD’s claims of privilege.2 a. Disclosure of the investigative file will thwart governmental processes by discouraging citizens from giving the government information. Disclosure will have a chilling effect on witnesses. “The purpose of the privilege is the furtherance and protection of the public interest in effective law enforcement. The privilege recognizes the obligation of citizens to communicate their knowledge of the commission of crimes to law-enforcement officials and, by preserving their anonymity, encourages them to perform that obligation.” Roviaro v. United States, 353 U.S. 53, 59 (1957). The argument in favor of protecting the civilian witnesses and the police investigation is particularly compelling as the crime here was a homicide that has not yet been solved. The file contains names of witnesses. If information regarding the investigation and/or the witnesses was revealed to the

suspects, their cohorts, or the media, the safety of these witnesses most certainly would be jeopardized. Successful investigation and prosecution of crime relies heavily on the cooperation of citizens. It is in the public policy to avoid revealing witness identities in order to foster future cooperation. b. Disclosure of the investigative file will negatively impact persons who have given information of having their identities disclosed.

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Factors c), d), and h) are inapplicable to the instant case; and therefore will not be addressed in this motion.
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The facts of this case objectively demonstrate that concern for the safety of witnesses is warranted. The security of witnesses is of particular concern as the homicide case remains unsolved from a prosecutorial standpoint as the prosecutors may later bring charges based on new or additional evidence. Thus, 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. Likewise, if the file is released, witnesses’ recollections may be impacted. For example, defendant Joseph R. Price, himself, is a witness in the homicide case. If he is permitted to learn what other witnesses recollect, his own personal recollection could be influenced by the memories of other witnesses. Therefore, not only is the safety of the witnesses a significant issue, but the disclosure of the investigative file could significantly hamper future investigation, and any attempt to successfully prosecute the murder case. This is certainly a negative impact that weighs in favor of sustaining the privilege. c. The nature of civil action does not warrant disclosure. Disclosure is not warranted in this case. In the process of investigation and preparing for trial, law enforcement often advance theories and then rule them out upon further investigation. MPD has a substantial interest in maintaining the privacy of the deliberations of their officers in investigating crimes. Disclosure of the information claimed privileged would reveal the

investigative techniques of MPD’s detectives and thereby risk the impairment of future homicide investigations. Accordingly, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has opined that it is proper to begin the analysis “with the proposition that there is indeed a public interest in minimizing disclosure of documents that would tend to reveal law enforcement

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investigative techniques or sources.” Black v. Sheraton Corp. of America, 564 F.2d 531, 545 (D.C. Cir. 1977). In addition to the evaluative processes of the detectives investigating the crime, the file also contains the conclusions of the witnesses. In interviews, the witnesses offered facts and their conclusions based upon the facts. These evaluations warrant protection from discovery in this civil case. As other courts have concluded, the distinction between what is “factual” and what is “evaluative” is “quite elusive and often arbitrary.” King v. Conde, 121 F.R.D. 180, 193 (E.D.N.Y. 1988). Hence, “most courts weigh this factor in light of the relevant importance of the materials to plaintiffs’ case.” Tuite, 181 F.R.D. at 180. As demonstrated infra, the information the parties seek is marginally – if at all – relevant to the claims and defenses in civil action, and can be obtained through other means. Hence, this factor does not weigh in favor of disclosure. Id. at 180-81. d. MPD’s interest in privilege supersedes the civil discovery interests. MPD’s interest in the privilege trumps defendant’s interests. In circumstances where the party seeking disclosure of the privileged information is the subject of an actual or pending criminal proceeding, the argument to compel disclosure is much stronger due to the constitutional rights guaranteed to the accused. See Roviaro, 353 U.S. at 60-61. Here, the

criminal matter as to defendant is over. Defendant was exculpated. In this civil case, where defendant is no longer a criminal defendant, the government’s interest in its privilege supersedes the civil discovery interests.

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e.

MPD’s interests in confidentiality remain strong. Despite the fact that a criminal trial involving the defendants has occurred, this matter is

still open for prosecution. Moreover, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has noted: It is clear that if investigatory files were made public subsequent to the termination of enforcement proceedings, the ability of any investigatory body to conduct future investigations would be seriously impaired. Few persons would respond candidly to investigators if they feared that their remarks would become public record after the proceedings. Further, the investigative techniques of the investigating body would be disclosed to the general public. Black, 564 F.2d at 546, quoting Aspin v. Department of Defense, 160 U.S. App. D.C. 231, 491 F.2d 24, 30 (D.C. Cir. 1973). In this civil tort case for monetary damages, where the homicide remains unsolved, the government’s interest in its privilege supersedes the civil discovery interests. f. Whether the information sought is available through other discovery or from other sources. Defendant fails to particularize why he is unable to obtain the materials through other means. For example, some of the materials defendant has requested involve correspondences between plaintiff, the decedent’s wife, and MPD. Defendant fails to show why these materials cannot be obtained from plaintiff through the civil discovery process. Additionally, in defendants’ Joint Motion to Dismiss Counts One, Three and Four, or in the alternative, Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, filed on October 15, 2010, defendants state that the instant civil case arises from the same facts as the criminal matter. See Motion for Summ. J. at 3. In support of his defense of plaintiff’s claims, defendant is free to interview civilian witnesses that became known to him during the criminal matter, refer to any discovery

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materials defendant received during the criminal matter, and examine multiple publicly-available sources available in the community, the media and other sources. g. The importance of the information sought to the defendant’s case This factor is often considered “the most crucial and important factor suggested by the court in Frankenhauser.” Tuite, 181 F.R.D. at 183-84 (citations omitted). As explained above, Defendant has not shown how the material sought in the subpoena is related to his defense of plaintiff’s claims. Additionally, as explained above, there are other sources available to the parties that would have information far more germane to the claims and defenses in this case. Hence, MPD urges this Court to quash defendant’s subpoena.

IV. CONCLUSION3 MPD submits that a balancing of the Kay v. Pick factors weighs against disclosure. The non-parties have demonstrated that the disclosure of the information requested would likely discourage future citizen cooperation with law enforcement and thereby thwart the effectiveness of criminal investigations. Moreover, the information is of minimal relevance and the parties have made no showing that the information is not available from other sources. Accordingly, MPD respectfully requests that this Court grant its Motion to Quash defendant’s subpoena.

Dated: March 1, 2011

Respectfully submitted, IRVIN B. NATHAN Acting Attorney General for the District of Columbia
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Furthermore, defendant has failed to provide funds to cover the cost of producing the documents for his requests.

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GEORGE C. VALENTINE Deputy Attorney General, Civil Litigation Division

/s/ William B. Jaffe WILLIAM B. JAFFE [DC Bar No. 502399] Chief, General Litigation Section III /s/ Patricia B. Donkor PATRICIA B. DONKOR*4 [74834, Virginia State Bar] Assistant Attorney General 441 Fourth Street, N.W., 6th Floor Washington, D.C. 20001 (202) 727-9624(phone) (202) 741-0569 (fax) Email: patricia.donkor@dc.gov

Certificate of Service I HEREBY CERTIFY that on March 1, 2011, a copy of the foregoing Motion to Quash was mailed to: Craig D. Roswell Brett A. Buckwalter Niles, Barton & Wilmer, L.L.P. 111 S. Calvert Street
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Appearance entered under D.C. App. Rule 49(c)(4).

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Ste. 1400 Baltimore, MD 21202 Counsel for Joseph R. Price

/s/ Patricia B. Donkor PATRICIA B. DONKOR Assistant Attorney General

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SUPERIOR COURTFOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIVIL DIVISION ____________________________________ ) ESTATE OF ROBERT E. WONE, ) By Katherine E. Wone ) ) Plaintiff, ) 2008 ca 8315 ) Judge Michael L. Rankin v. ) ) JOSEPH R. PRICE, et al., ) ) Defendants. ) ___________________________________ ) ORDER

Upon consideration of the MPD’s Motion to Quash Defendant’s Subpoena and Other Information thereto, and the entire record herein, it is this day of ___________, 2011, hereby

ORDERED that the District’s Motion to Quash is GRANTED.

Michael L. Rankin Associate Judge Copies to:

Patricia B. Donkor Assistant Attorney General 441 Fourth Street, N.W. Sixth Floor South Washington, DC 20001
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Counsel for Defendant

Craig D. Roswell Brett A. Buckwalter Niles, Barton & Wilmer, L.L.P. 111 S. Calvert Street Ste. 1400 Baltimore, MD 21202 Counsel for Joseph R. Price

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