Definitive conclusions don’t exist in the Ramsey case. So, it should be no surprise that here we are, four days after the dismissal of the Burke Ramsey vs. CBS defamation lawsuit, and the topic of who won is up for debate.
I’ve heard it said many times before that the Ramseys are trying to get rich off of their daughter’s death, but I’ve never really subscribed to that notion. Yes, they like money and have made money after her death, but more than anything else, what the Ramseys love most is saving face.
In the simple act of filing a lawsuit, they get to shame and temporarily silence their accusers. Win or lose at the end, controlling the narrative up front has always kept them free. In that respect, they have won. But in terms of this lawsuit, Lin Wood’s and John Ramsey’s post-dismissal demeanor, tells a very different story. It’s certainly in stark contrast to lawsuits from the past.
When Steve Thomas published JonBenet: Inside the Ramsey Murder Investigation, the Ramseys sued him, his co-author and publisher for libel. Before doing so, they faced him on Larry King, and Patsy taunted Thomas by telling him he would meet his Waterloo.
Despite the aggressive statements about how Thomas would go down, they ended up settling with Thomas in 2002 for an undisclosed amount. Even though Lin Wood victoriously called it a repudiation, Thomas’ book is still available for purchase today. That’s not exactly winning either.
“They didn’t sue this case under any false impressions, that it would be easy or worth millions,” he said. “They sued this case as a matter of principle. And win, lose or draw, they were not going to tolerate it.” – Lin Wood, 2002
Interesting to note, in all of the Ramsey’s previous settlements, the news reported an undisclosed amount had been paid. That verbiage has been notably omitted from all the press about the CBS settlement.
In September 2016, when CBS aired The Case of: JonBenet Ramsey, Lin Wood came out with the same ole guns blazing. He had hissy fits on Twitter, went on TMZ, red-faced, and told everyone that CBS was “immoral”, what they did was “asinine” and that the people involved, despite their extensive years of experience in their fields, were “phony experts”.
He then proceeded to file a whopping 750 million-dollarlawsuit against CBS and others involved in the making of the show.
According to point 17. in the complaint: Defendants’ accusation that Burke Ramsey killed his sister was based on a compilation of lies, half-truths, manufactured information, and the intentional omission and avoidance of truthful information about the murder of JonBenét Ramsey.
In response to this, CBS essentially said, Ok, let’s bring it.
While Burke’s legal team only subpoenaed the Boulder PD for limited records, primarily those pertaining to the bowl of pineapple on the dining room table, on which Burke’s fingerprints were found, CBS came out swinging with their requests.
CBS Request List viathe DailyCamera
This list includes, but is not limited to:
- all DNA reports and related case communicationsprepared by the Bode Technology forensic laboratory
- all documents prepared by former Boulder CountyCoroner John Meyer
- all handwriting analysis
- all communications relating to the possible useof a stun gun
- documents relating to fecal matter found smearedon items in JonBenet’s bedroom
- materials relating to the analysis of otherevidence found in JonBenet’s bedroom
- reports pertaining to what was found in thechild’s digestive system
- a flashlight shown in crime scene photos
- evidence relating to a Hi-Tec bootprint foundnear JonBenet’s body
- a palm print on a door to the basement room whereJonBenet was found
- reports and communications relating tolinguistic analyst Don Foster
- “all case synopses” prepared by thepolice department
- Subpoena of Alex Hunter (to include everydocument he retained since retiring)
- Ellis Armistead (former family privateinvestigator who resigned in 2000)
- Mary Keenan Lacy
- High Peaks Elementary School (records)
- Dr. Francesco Beuf (records) – Beuf passed away in 2017
Hunter was vocal about not wanting to testify. He said, not only because it ruined his vacation plans, but because he was concerned about maintaining privacy for an on-going case. Westword interviewed Lin Wood and asked his opinion about Hunter’s subpoena.
WESTWORD: Whatinformation do you believe Alex Hunter has that pertains to the lawsuit?
WOOD: Based on his (Hunter’s) May, 1999, pressstatement and his October 2000 sworn affidavit (executed one year after the endof the grand jury investigation), whichcleared Burke of any suspicion based on the actual evidence, I am confident that the only informationMr. Hunter could offer in this case would support Burke’s case against CBS.
The responses from both Hunter and Wood are fucking laughable. It’s like grinning children telling their mom, there’s nothing to see here, while hiding stolen cookies behind their back. Neither one of them ever wanted Hunter involved in any litigation of the Ramseys!
Back in 2000, as Wood was getting ready to do his national tour of sue-the-pants-off-Burke-haters, he concocted a plan to get a sworn affidavit on file from then-DA, Alex Hunter, saying Burke has never been a suspect. It was something he could use for years to come, akin to the Mary Keenan Lacy exoneration letter for the Ramseys.
So, Wood drafted the affidavit and gave it to Hunter who agreed to sign it. Imagine that – Hunter refuses to sign indictments from a grand jury against John and Patsy, and then agrees to sign a document that aids Burke. We also have to realize that the affidavit benefited Hunter too. In most cases, it prevented him, and other DA office staff, from having to provide information about Burke in future civil proceedings. Again, driving home the point that nobody ever wanted Hunter on the stand.
It is interesting to note that Hunter didn’t sign the document as it was presented to him, he did need to tweak some of Wood’s verbiage. Instead of outright saying Burke was never a suspect, as Wood suggested, he toned it down a bit – I suppose to be a little less egregious – and said through the course of investigation, Burke had never been elevated from the status of witness to suspect. Regardless, Wood still runs all over town saying the DA’s office cleared Burke even though that’s not what the document says.
Long story short, Burke was investigated for the murder of JonBenet. Wood and Hunter know that, obviously, and they’ve done everything in their power over the years to suppress it.
Ultimately, after much legal back and forth this past year, in November, Burke’s team withdrew their subpoena requesting records from the Boulder PD, and that motion was granted by the court. A sign that Burke was backing down.
From all of the language I’ve read thus far in this outcome, it doesn’t appear that CBS paid anything, or if they did, it was minimal. As with almost all civil lawsuits, regardless of what the representatives say, neither side ever really wants to go to trial. It’s mainly a legal game of chicken. The fact that John Ramsey’s and Werner Spitz’s cases were also dismissed, without any comment about settlement or money, supports that CBS had the upper hand.
When the case was dismissed with prejudice – meaning it’s closed for good with no chance to re-file – there was no formal announcement, no photo shoots, and no press conference at a microphone like days of past.
The news simply trickled out to the papers a few days later.
“the suit has been amicably resolved to the satisfaction of all parties.” – Lin Wood
Wow. Amicably resolved, no further comments, that’s it. Doesn’t sound like the usual blustery Lin Wood, does it?
Wasn’t the primary point to put CBS in their place, makethem look scandalous for producing such trash, and in doing so, reiterate Burke’sinnocence? One would think if Burke had “won” that they’dbe shouting the scandal from the rooftops. Wood follows it up with awhimpering:
“After handling many defamation cases for them over the past 20 years, hopefully this is my last defamation case for this fine family” – Lin Wood, Twitter, Jan 4, 2019
“In my 42 years of law practice, my clients have always felt like winners when a legal dispute is resolved to their satisfaction.” – Lin Wood, Twitter
Well damn, if that doesn’t ring of defeat, I don’t know what does. Have we ever heard Wood say hopefully this is my last? And to their satisfaction isn’t exactly dripping with victory. I’m sure the Ramseys are satisfied, but probably not for the reasons most would assume, or that Wood is hinting at in his generic tweets.
I’m sure the Ramseys are satisifed that Alex Hunter won’t have to leave himself open to questions about affidavits and not signing indictments. I’m sure they’re also happy they won’t have to hear from Ellis Armistead.
Armistead was the Ramsey’s private investigator who was tasked primarily with protecting the Ramsey’s reputation, and not so much with solving the case. An odd task for a paid investigator. Yet, after repeatedly asking the Ramsey’s lawyers to see the case files, and being denied, Armistead became fed up and quit. He was quoted in the Daily Camera, in 2001, saying, “It seemed to become a contest of who could be on television next, and I don’t think that’s where these cases belong. I don’t think that the clients belonged on TV. To me, it’s nonproductive and took away from the focus of the case.” He voiced his concerns about the bizarre use of PR by the Ramseys to Haddon, Morgan & Foreman, but was ignored. Considering his aversion to PR, I’d be curious to hear what Armistead thinks of Lin Wood.
The IDIs (Intruder Did It) camp seem to believe that there’s a big kudos due to Burke & company for taking down CBS. But CBS, like most large corporations, has defamation insurance. So potentially paying out a sum of money – and I’ll reiterate, there’s no statement whatsoever that any undisclosed amount has been paid – really isn’t that much skin off their back. The fact that they fought as long as they did, and got team Burke to back down, including withdrawing their subpoena for documents from the Boulder PD, is actually further proof that this battle was always in CBS’s favor.
In the end, nothing has changed since 2016. If you want to watch The Case of: JonBenet Ramsey, here you go, check it out: Amazon Prime Video. Nobody is retracting any statements about Burke, nobody is stopping their investigative work, forums aren’t being closed down, authors will continue to write books and no precedents have been set.
In the introduction of his lawsuit, Burke stated that he sought to redress the permanent damage done to his reputation, but in the end, he quietly bowed out of that fight, has remained in the shadows and amicably resolved the matter with the supposed immoral, phony folks who slandered him on TV. How that can be considered a win of any sort for team Burke, is truly beyond me.