Wolf v. Ramsey - a second look

Discussion in 'JonBenet Ramsey' started by Voice of Reason, May 2, 2005.

  1. Voice of Reason

    Voice of Reason New Member

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    To anyone who has not read the FULL opinion by Judge Carnes in the Wolf v. Ramsey case, I recommend it. I know many disagree with some of the conclusions and feel that the evidence was incomplete that was shown in that case, it does offer a few tidbits that I was unaware of. I don't know where you can find the full text online as I accessed it through a legal database I have access to. Here are some of the highlights of info I find to be interesting...

    "As Andrew Louis Smit, a respected homicide detective hired by the Boulder Police Department to investigate this crime, has noted, there are only two possible solutions to this crime: that is, either someone in the Ramsey household committed the crime or an intruder did it."

    It is worth noting that the opinion sourced this to Smit's deposition. It is interesting that when under oath, Mr. Smit seems to lend credence to the RDI theory.

    "Likewise a leaf and white styro-foam packing peanuts, consistent with the leaves and packing peanuts found pooled in the window-well, were found in the wine-cellar room of the basement where JonBenet's body was discovered."

    I've heard of the leaves near the window, but never in the wine cellar. That is interesting.

    "Further, fibers consistent with those of the cord used to make the slip knots and garrote were found on JonBenet's bed."

    This seems to point clearly towards the tying of JBR occurring upstairs. As to whether it says IDI or RDI is up in the air based on this, IMO.

    "Mrs. Ramsey's admi[tted] that she destroyed her handwritten book notes."

    I wonder what was in those notes?

    "Plaintiff has the burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that the Ramseys murdered their child."

    Allow me to supply the legal background. Wolfe is suing for libel. The court found the Ramsey's statements to be libelous, however, a defense to libel is that the defendants honestly believed the statements they made. To counter, Wolf claimed that PR could not honestly believe the statements since she murdered JBR. The judge made Wolfe stick to this theory as though he were the prosecutor and the judge was the jury. In my mind, this was a bit of a tight squeeze. Furthermore, the Ramseys were granted summary judgment. This means that no genuine issue of material fact existed as to the plaintiff's claims. So, to me, it seems odd that Judge Carnes thought it significant to state that plaintiff has not shown clear and convincing evidence. That is not the standard for summary judgment. Plaintiff needs to show a genuine issue of material fact. Clear and convincing evidence is necessary for a favorable jury verdict, but a judge is premature to grant summary judgment for lack of clear and convincing evidence if a genuince issue of material fact is shown. Hopefully, I didn't lose too many of you in my legal ramblings...
     
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  3. Nova

    Nova Active Member

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    Didn't strike me as "rambling," but in any event I appreciate the explanation.
     
  4. Jayelles

    Jayelles New Member

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    Judge Carnes' judgement was based upon two sources - Lou Smit's PowerPoint Presentation which at the point of the Wolf suit, was several years out of date (Lou Smit had resigned in 1998 and had not yet been rehired). - and also Steve Thomas' book. She did not have access to the police files. When Beckner was deposed, he refused to answer some of the questions about the evidence.

    I can also see one glaring error straight away - Lou SMit wasn't hired by the BPD at all, he was hired by the BDA.

    The window in the basement was broken and John Ramsey admitted breaking it himself the previous summer. Leaves and debris could easily have blown in threw a broken window and I do not think this in itself is evidence of any intruder.

    I think the only interesting thing to come out of the Wolf case was the animal hairs and the existence of DNA-x. The rest of it is of little consequence sadly.
     
  5. JBRMod2

    JBRMod2 Registered User

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  6. Voice of Reason

    Voice of Reason New Member

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    Actually Jayelles, Lou Smit was hired by the Boulder DA's office in 3/1997. I understand the reasons for questioning his presentation as he seemed to represent the Ramseys from day one, but he was a part of the official investigation for a while.

    As for the debris from the window, if you re-read my post, you will see that it discusses debris found INSIDE the wine cellar. Not near the window. That I find interesting.
     
  7. Lacy Wood

    Lacy Wood Former Member

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    Thanks again V.O.R. for an insightful post. I don't know if there's a glossary of abbreviations on site, but I'm not sure what RDI and IDI mean. Could you tell us newer folks?

    It seemed strange the judge singled out the "respected homicide detective" Smit for the notion that, simply stated, is that it was the Ramseys or someone else.

    I knew a lot of the facts several years ago, but have forgotten some of the players...was Wolf the housekeeper who thought that noone but Patsy could have known of, or found, the pocketknife she had concealed in the laundry supplies and was found in the room with the body?
     
  8. Voice of Reason

    Voice of Reason New Member

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    RDI=Ramsey Did It
    IDI=Intruder Did It

    Chris Wolf was not the housekeeper. He was a Boulder journalist who was brought under suspicion because of his live-in girlfriend. There is a bit more to it than that, but I'm sure that Google can help you out...
     
  9. BlueCrab

    BlueCrab New Member

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    Voice of Reason,

    I'm glad you noted that Lou Smit, when under oath, seems to believe the Ramseys are involved in the death of JonBenet. IMO Lou Smit knows exactly what happened, but he is protecting the identities of the children in accordance with Colorado law while trying to rehabilitate the parents. In private Lou Smit, IMO, believes children were involved and has been known to say:

    "**** ***** should be looked at. The intruder could be a kid."

    Source: Spade
     
  10. bensmom98

    bensmom98 Former Member

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    Bluecrab-
    Do you have any idea what is **** ***** is up to these days?

    thanks-
     
  11. JBRMod2

    JBRMod2 Registered User

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    Do not name private individuals as having involvement in the Ramsey murder.

     
  12. narlacat

    narlacat Former Member

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    I thought that was why we were here to discuss who we think was involved in the Ramsey murder.
     
  13. IrishMist

    IrishMist You can't control the wind - but you can adjust yo

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    Just out of curiosity, can we use initials?

    I say just out of curiosity, because I can never focus on ONE person/theory long enough to name anyone!! :doh:
     
  14. JBRMod2

    JBRMod2 Registered User

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    You can discuss the Ramsey case without naming private individuals as suspects. Use a pseudonym.

    There are legal and moral implications involved here.

     
  15. BlueCrab

    BlueCrab New Member

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    bensmom98,

    DS is a high-achieving 18-year-old student in Atlanta.
     
  16. capps

    capps New Member

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    Hmmm ... what's this??
    I'm not up on that one ... can some one pm me and fill me in??
     
  17. otg

    otg Reports of my death are greatly exagerated... but

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    I bumped this thread because the circumstances of the Carnes decision in Wolf vs. Ramsey is being lost, forgotten, or ignored. What the OP in this thread stated in the snipped portion below sums up the quandary created by the lawsuit in what the plaintiff (Wolf) had to prove in order to win his case:

    For those who are new to this, and since the Carnes ruling is being quoted as a “source” for some posts, here is some background that seems to have been lost over the years:

    The Ramseys wrote in their book (DOI) that Chris Wolf was a suspect in the murder of their daughter. They also went on the Today Show with Katie Couric and said the same thing. So Wolf filed suit for libel and slander. For his legal representation, he chose Darnay Hoffman(1), who had been very vocal about what he saw as a travesty that the Ramsey case had not been adequately pursued by the DA. Hoffman used to post on the JonBenet forums. He was a sincere and caring person (IMO). But his ambition and good intent seemed to exceed his ability to follow through (partly because of his own personal demons), and he really did kind of drop the ball in his representation of Chris Wolf -- to the point that it pissed off the judge in the matter (Carnes). It’s never a good thing when one of the lawyers gets the judge deciding your case turned against you. Of course, the judge should remain impartial regardless. But judges are human too, and Hoffman’s fear of flying meant that he tried to conduct the lawsuit by phone, upsetting the judge in the case.

    In cases of libel or slander, there are certain criteria that must be met depending on whether the claimant is a public figure or not. (Part of this criteria is what protects us to a limited degree in expressing our opinions on this forum.) First, his burden is to prove that the statement was made and that it was false, and that it was defamatory in nature. If the plaintiff is a public figure or a “limited purpose public figure” (and Wolf claimed in his suit that he was), he has to also prove “actual malice” (not the same as “common law malice”). Actual malice means that the person acted, not with ill-will, but with knowledge that the defamatory statement was not true. So how did Chris Wolf have to prove that the Ramseys knew that he did not kill JonBenet? He had to prove that they knew he didn’t do it because they were actually guilty of the crime themselves. But this is something Hoffman wanted to do (prove them guilty of JonBenet’s death), and felt he could do if given the opportunity. Unfortunately, much of his case was based on proving Patsy wrote the RN. But the judge excluded his expert witnesses in the case because of different reasons for each one (something discussed ad nauseum here in other threads). So then to prove the case, he had to submit other evidence of Ramsey guilt. But without access to police evidence in an “active investigation” (much of which was known by BPD at the time to disprove statements made by the Ramseys -- such as Hi-Tec footprint, palm print identification on the WC door, “pubic or auxiliary hair” identification), he tried to prove it with testimony from the author of a book that took the position of Ramsey guilt. That author (Steve Thomas) tried to avoid being subpoenaed(2) because he had just settled out-of-court a libel suit of his own with the Ramseys. Thomas was embarrassed in his deposition (IMO) by the tactics of Ramsey lawyer Lin Wood, and his testimony was essentially useless. The only other evidence that Hoffman could produce was leaked crime scene photos, which (as we all know) can be debated as to what they mean and are not proof that any one person is responsible.

    Feeling the plaintiff had failed to prove his case even had merit (as lawyers often do), Wood requested a Summary Judgment (definition links below). Left essentially only with the Statement of Material Facts as presented by both parties, Judge Carnes decided not to allow the case to go to court and issued the Summary Judgment on March 31, 2003. That’s right -- this case never went to trial! Depositions were taken, legal motions were submitted, letters were written -- but the case was all decided by the judge while sitting at her desk looking over the only information that she had allowed to be presented to her.

    The written judgment is linked at the end of this post, and it is well worth the read. But understand that it is her judgment in a civil case, based only on the evidence she had at the time. It was not a criminal trial where actual police evidence was presented. So when quotes are cited from this judgment, they are not truly evidence that can honestly be used as proof of any other issue. Anyone who does this doesn’t really understand what happened in the case.

    =================================================================

    Incidentally, six years after the Carnes’ decision in Wolf vs. Ramsey, someone said the following about it:

    “There are lessons to be drawn from the Ramsey case. What it teaches is that drawing broad inferences based on very limited and selective evidence is a very dangerous thing to do."

    Can anyone guess who it is who said this?

    =================================================================

    (1)
    Darnay Hoffman was known as “the attorney of last resort”. He famously defended clients who no one else would defend, or who did not have enough money to hire an attorney. His clients included Joel Steinberg, and “subway vigilante” Bernard Goetz. He also represented Linda Hoffman-Pugh in her lawsuit. He was married to “Mayflower Madam” Sydney Biddle Barrows. After their divorce, he took his own life in Sydney’s apartment. She speculated that it was because of financial woes and failing health (complications from diabetes). The manner of death he chose (which raised suspicion) was by stabbing himself in the heart.

    (2) Affidavit of David Williams (Process Server):

    On May 22, 2001, at 8:36 pm at (address redacted), County of Jefferson, Colorado, the home address of Steve Thomas, I personally served a copy of the subpoena in a Civil Case to Steve Thomas by identifying the document, along with the date and time of appearance, and then by dropping it, after Thomas refused to take it, along with a $90 check for witness per diem and travel fee.

    Dated May 24th, 2001
    David Williams
    Denver, Colorado


    =================================================================

    Links:

    wikipedia.org/wiki/Actual_malice
    http://www.dmlp.org/legal-guide/proving-fault-actual-malice-and-negligence
    http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/in+the+law+of+libel+and+slander+malice

    Very good piece on the balance between defamation and Freedom of Speech, and how the “limited purpose public figure” came to be:
    http://www.freedomforum.org/packages/first/defamationandfirstamendment/

    http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Summary+Judgment
    http://dictionary.law.com/Default.aspx?selected=2063


    Carnes Decision:
    http://www.leagle.com/decision/20031576253FSupp2d1323_11466
     
  18. DeeDee249

    DeeDee249 New Member

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    How ANY judge could make a public statement about an unsolved child murder (or ANY crime, really) when they had ONLY ever read information supplied by the suspects' defense lawyers is appalling.
     
  19. cynic

    cynic Active Member

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    That quote was from Carnes.
    They say there's two sides to a story, too bad only one side was presented.
     
  20. otg

    otg Reports of my death are greatly exagerated... but

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    Excellent, cynic! Too bad she hadn't learned that lesson before she heard the Wolf case and applied it there.

    Here is the beginning and the entire portion about her part in the case (snipped to avoid copyright infringement & bbm):

    http://www.lawjobs.com/newsandviews/LawArticle.jsp?id=1202429072171

     
  21. cherisa

    cherisa New Member

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    Why would the rams say that Wolfe murdered JonBenet? Did he have access to her prior to her death?
    Is he just some random guy?
     

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