Several media companies and a blog dedicated to the unsolved murder of Washington lawyer Robert Wone have asked a D.C. Superior Court judge not to impose a gag order in a civil case tied to the 2006 homicide.
Lawyers for the three defendants in the wrongful death suit recently requested a gag order to minimize the potential for juror bias. The Wone family lawyers, including a Covington & Burling team, are opposed to a gag order.
Earlier this week, lawyers for the blog WhoMurderedRobertWone.com filed papers in D.C. Superior Court in opposition to the proposed gag order. The Washingtonian magazine and Albritton Communications joined the motion.
Charles English Jr., an Ober, Kaler, Grimes & Shriver partner in Washington who represents the media interveners, said the proposed order would constitute a prior restraint on speech, prohibiting the attorneys in the case from speaking about the litigation rather than disciplining them afterwards for any ethical violation.
“The scope of the gag order is breathtaking,” English, who chairs the firm’s food and agriculture group, wrote in court papers. The proposed restriction on speech would prevent reporters from asking mundane questions of the lawyers—including the date of any future status conference and the expected length of trial.
There is no evidence to support the defense lawyers’ fears that statements from attorneys in the case will affect the trial, English said.
The defendants, former Arent Fox litigation partner Joseph Price, Victor Zaborsky and Dylan Ward, are scheduled to stand trial in October 2011. A mediation session is scheduled for next June.
Price, Zaborsky and Ward were acquitted in late June on criminal charges that included obstruction and conspiracy.