Justice Department and Washington Post prevail in Baltimore man’s lawsuit
Published: January 4, 2012
Allegations that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) committed civil-rights violations and The Washington Post engaged in fraud, defamation, and breach-of-contract, spelled out in a 2010 lawsuit filed by William C. Bond of Baltimore, were dismissed in early December by U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth of Washington, D.C.
Bond’s suit (“Tilting at Titans,” Mobtown Beat, Nov. 10, 2010) complained that after former U.S. Attorney Thomas DiBiagio lost his job in 2004, the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office stopped pursuing corruption allegations Bond reported to the office about members of the Maryland bench and bar involved in his prior litigation. Those lawsuits involved an unpublished book, Self-Portrait of a Patricide, written by Bond, who killed his father in 1981 when he was a 17-year-old living in Ohio. Bond claimed the manuscript had been “stolen” by his adversaries in a child-custody case and that the ensuing legal battles exposed evidence of perjury, withholding subpoenaed documents, and attorney and judicial misconduct that, once Bond informed the U.S. Attorney’s Office, drew aborted prosecutorial attention. Lamberth ruled that the DOJ is immune from Bond’s claims, which he declared were inadequately stated in any event.
The Washington Post, Bond claimed in his lawsuit, led him to believe it would publish a timely story about Bond’s anti-corruption efforts in Maryland. Instead, his lawsuit complains, on May 31, 2009, the newspaper printed a belated article that barely mentioned those efforts, focusing rather on Bond himself and painting him as a patricidal bon vivant. Lamberth’s dismissal of the counts against the Post says Bond failed to say sufficiently what, if anything, the newspaper did wrong, and that, as for the alleged defamation, he filed his lawsuit too late.
Despite the ruling, Bond vows to press on. “I don’t think I’m stopping,” he says in a phone interview shortly after Lamberth’s decision, adding, “I’m trying to get some people interested in the appellate part of it, and I think I’ve got some bites.” Spokespeople for the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in Maryland and D.C. declined to comment, as did the Post’s communications manager, Jennifer Lee, and its attorney, Kevin Hardy of Williams and Connolly LLP.
Bond says Lamberth held him to too high a standard, since he brought the case pro se—without the aid of an attorney—and pro se plaintiffs are supposed to be afforded greater latitude in court pleadings. “I had a contract with The Washington Post,” Bond says, adding that the reporter, Manuel Roig-Franzia, “didn’t write what he said he was going to write” and that he has “a chain of e-mails that talked about the contract over and over.” Lamberth didn’t consider those e-mails “or any other of the 150 exhibits I filed,” Bond says, but “just stuck to the four corners of my complaint, and concluded I didn’t know how to write a complaint.”
As for the DOJ, Bond tells City Paper that the cut-short corruption investigation he prompted at the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office concerned “at the very least a Looney Toons of ethical violations, but I say it goes further and was criminal. You can’t have federal judges being influenced the way they have been here. The way you practice law here in Maryland is you hire a lawyer that’s friends with the judge.”
In his lawsuit, Bond declined to name the judges and lawyers he claims acted badly. He did, however, assert that in 2010 he met twice with a “sitting U.S. Fourth Circuit Judge” who had decided Bond’s failed appeals in the stolen-manuscript litigation. The judge, Bond wrote, allegedly said DiBiagio—who had made investigating public corruption a high priority—was fired in part because he was pursuing Bond’s allegations of judicial and attorney misconduct. “Powerful interests in the DOJ,” Bond wrote, describing what the judge allegedly told him, decided “they were not going to prosecute a federal judge and important attorneys in Baltimore’s close-knit legal establishment for the complaints of a juvenile killer.”
Bond says his next steps are to file post-judgment motions asking Lamberth to reconsider the dismissal ruling, and adds, “I am interviewing several high-level attorneys to take on an appeal of the case.” He is also considering “filing judicial complaints based on the information in my criminal referrals” to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Other than court battles, though, Bond says in an e-mail that he plans to join with “civil rights activists in East and West Baltimore” in publicizing “how the DOJ treats high-level corruption among white lawyers and judges versus their war on a whole race, i.e., drug war, and how they crucify black politicians and wrong doers.” Bond says he also plans to call for the DOJ to reform the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office. “The DOJ,” he says, “needs to assign Maryland a special anti-corruption task force” and “replace the entire upper management” of the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, “some of whom have been entrenched for decades,” because the office “has been corrupted by local politics” and is “not independent.”
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