Columnist Robert Novak Accused of a Hit and Run in Washington

Columnist Robert Novak has a reputation for being an aggressive and fast driver. It may now have put him into legal jeopardy. He is accused of hitting a man in his black Corvette who was lawfully crossing in a pedestrian walkway in Washington and then speeding from the scene — only to be stopped a block away by an attorney who chased him on a bicycle. Novak joked in 2001 about his hatred for jaywalkers and the option of running them over. A video of the aftermath is linked below.


The pedestrian was a 66-year-old man but Novak told reporters that “I didn’t know I hit him. … I feel terrible. He’s not dead, that’s the main thing.” Well, maybe not. Novak admits that he was a block away the accident when he was stopped by a bicyclist. However, that bicyclist witnessed the accident and says that he had to chase Novak after he sped from the scene. He would seem a pretty credible witness. He is David Bono, a partner at Harkins Cunningham, who saw the accident and says that Novak “plows into the guy. The guy is sort of splayed into the windshield.” How does one not notice a guy splayed on your windshield?

Bono said that he was outraged by the Novak’s flight: “This car is speeding away. What’s going through my mind is, you just can’t hit a pedestrian and drive away.” It is hard to see how Novak was only charged with failing to yield the right of way. There is at least one eyewitness who believes that this was a hit and run — and another witness supports part of his account with a contemporary statement. Another witness, a concierge named Aleta Petty, said that Bono told her immediately after the accident that he was going to chase a hit and run driver. She quoted Bono as saying “This guy hit somebody and he won’t stop so I’m going to stay here until the police come.” Thus, Bono did not just adopt a harsher view after finding out it was Novak.

Hit and run is obvious a much more serious charge. Section 50-2201.05 states:

Fleeing from scene of accident; driving under the influence of liquor or drugs.

(2) Any operator whose vehicle causes personal injury to an individual and who fails to conform to the above requirements shall, upon conviction of the 1st offense, be fined not more than $500, or shall be imprisoned not more than 6 months, or both; and upon the conviction of his 2nd or subsequent offense, shall be fined not more than $1,000, or shall be imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both.

In the meantime, civil litigation could ensue for negligence and other claims by the victim. A trial would be particularly interesting to see if the court would allow the following statement from Novak in a 2001 Washington Post interview: “I really hate jaywalkers. I despise them. Since I don’t run the country, all I can do is yell at ‘em. The other option is to run ‘em over, but as a compassionate conservative, I would never do that.” Now, that would be an intense motion in limine fight to keep that from a Washington jury.

Novak’s hit pieces on folks like Valerie Plame are now notorious examples of his work. However, the alleged expansion to the actual use of a car for a hit and run is a new development.

For a video of Novak after receiving the citation, click here.

For the full story, click here.

58 thoughts on “Columnist Robert Novak Accused of a Hit and Run in Washington

  1. Correction;

    So I did the complaint thing, and left.

    should read;

    So I did the STATEMENT thing, and left, lol.
    😐

    The complaints I did under my breath.

  2. Turley said “negligence and other crimes,” implying that negligence is per se a crime. It isn’t (but it sometimes forms the basis of a crime, e.g., negligent homicide). Turley’s formulation was both sloppy and literally false.

    The fact that the same conduct can be both a tort and a crime doesn’t gainsay my point that civil litigation doesn’t deal in crimes. Conduct can be classified in a number of ways.

  3. Brian:

    “Turley said “negligence and other crimes,” implying that negligence is per se a crime.”

    **********************

    I say I own a cat and a dog. That doesn’t mean they both “meow.” And by the way, if the complained of conduct is unintentional and a violation of criminal or other statutes and the victim is in the class of persons the statute is designed to protect, it is negligence per se. Thus the reverse of your statement is true. Is this stuff new to you?

  4. Sorry, but I just gotta take a stab at this.

    ——

    Brian
    1, July 25, 2008 at 8:32 am

    Turley said “negligence and other crimes,” implying that negligence is per se a crime.

    ——

    Well, while one might conclude that, the wording doesn’t actually necessitate that conclusion.

    Now, I know Professor Turely has already posted a correction, indicating that it could have been written clearer, but your obsession with straining at this gnat as if it was some major sign of ignorance, from a guy who easily one of the brightest minds of our time, makes it impossible for me to give you a pass.

    So allow me, the lowly Bartlebee, to edyoocayte u.

    Have you ever read the Constitution?

    Particularly, Article II, Section 4, which demonstrates how the use of the word “other” can be acceptable in that context.

    Observe;

    “The President, Vice President, and all civil officers of the United States” who may only be impeached and removed for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

    Other high crimes AND misdemeanors?

    Which is it? A “high crime”, or a “misdemeanor”?

    You could say they meant “other crimes”, but they didn’t SAY “other crimes”.

    They said “other HIGH crimes”.

    Thus, are they implying a misdemeanor is a high crime?

    The first two, “Treason and Bribery” are both considered “high crimes”. So where’s the “misdemeanor” that the “other” supposedly refers to?

    The word “other” is as an adjective or a pronoun, indicates something is “different” than the previously referenced thing.

    Therefore, while you “can” construe the wording to indicate he was implying that civil cases are criminal cases, its also gramatically viable that he was using the term other, as in “different”, thus “negligence, and “other” crimes, thereas, “criminal proceedings OTHER than civil proceedings”.

    Of course he’s already explained the statement in question as merely what essentially constitutes a typographical error or poor sentence structure, but you knew that already, when you first posted your ridiculous “formulation”.

    But easy refutes of your “sloppy formulation” doesn’t stop their.

    Since negligence can be both a civil matter, AND a criminal one, it could also be correct that he meant the negligence was criminal.
    😐

    Oh, I’m sorry. In your Law School they don’t teach about Criminal Negligence?

    Ok, allow me to “edyoocayte” you some more.

    Negligence is classifed under criminal law when “actus reus” (a guilty act) AND “mens rea” (intent to commit a guilty act) are both demonstrable concurrently at the time of the event.

    Since we have documented evidence proving that Bob Novak with regards to certain pedistrians, has demonstrated a hostility to them, which can be seen as an intent to injure should the opportuntity present itself (he should just shut up in interviews) one could argue that “mens rea” was present simultaneously with his “actus reus”, thus, the act constitutes criminal negligence.

    In fact, since the jury’s still out on this one, so to speak, we’ll have to wait until charges are filed, or not, before we know where and how the case will be handled.

    Now I’m not sure what your beef is with Professor Turely. Perhaps he gave you a low grade (no doubt deserved given your lack of understanding of criminal negligence), or if you are just are jealous of his monumental success in his career. But the fact is, its your “formulation” that was sloppy and false.

    Because not only could the term be used grammatically in a correct form as in the one was civil and the “other” (different one) was criminal, but it’s clear that criminal negligence might also have been implied, yet you insulted him prior to even hearing his explanation. Then AFTER hearing him explain it was merely essentially a typo, you still persist in assigning a false intent that was never Professor Turley’s intent in the statement, but yours.

    Your “formulation” was not only sloppy and false, it is dishonest and misleading, because you are accusing a well known, well written long time professor of law, of not knowing the simple, most basic difference between civil and criminal context, which obviously, he wouldn’t have lasted 10 minutes much less 10 years or more, teaching and or practicing law, if he did not.

    Its common knowledge he knows the difference between civil and criminal law. There is ample documented evidence of this, publically available should you chose to actually read something about the man you intend on slandering.

    Therefore your “mens rea” is evident in your “actus reus”, in your attempts to misrepresent what has already been identified by the author, as a “typo”, into something that it could not possibly have been, given the abundently available information of the author showing he could not possibly have intended his statement as you presented it.

    In other words, you bore false witness against Professor Turley, knowingly and with the intent to slander his reputation.

  5. Sorry, but I just gotta take a stab at this.

    ——

    Brian
    1, July 25, 2008 at 8:32 am

    Turley said “negligence and other crimes,” implying that negligence is per se a crime.

    ——

    Well, while one might conclude that, the wording doesn’t actually necessitate that conclusion.

    Now, I know Professor Turely has already posted a correction, indicating that it could have been written clearer, but your obsession with straining at this gnat as if it was some major sign of ignorance, from a guy who easily one of the brightest minds of our time, makes it impossible for me to give you a pass.

    So allow me, the lowly Bartlebee, to edyoocayte u.

    Have you ever read the Constitution?

    Particularly, Article II, Section 4, which demonstrates how the use of the word “other” can be acceptable in that context.

    Observe;

    “The President, Vice President, and all civil officers of the United States” who may only be impeached and removed for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

    Other high crimes AND misdemeanors?

    Which is it? A “high crime”, or a “misdemeanor”?

    You could say they meant “other crimes”, but they didn’t SAY “other crimes”.

    They said “other HIGH crimes”.

    Thus, are they implying a misdemeanor is a high crime?

    The first two, “Treason and Bribery” are both considered “high crimes”. So where’s the “misdemeanor” that the “other” supposedly refers to?

    The word “other” is as an adjective or a pronoun, indicates something is “different” than the previously referenced thing.

    Therefore, while you “can” construe the wording to indicate he was implying that civil cases are criminal cases, its also gramatically viable that he was using the term other, as in “different”, thus “negligence, and “other” crimes, thereas, “criminal proceedings OTHER than civil proceedings”.

    Of course he’s already explained the statement in question as merely what essentially constitutes a typographical error or poor sentence structure, but you knew that already, when you first posted your ridiculous “formulation”.

    But easy refutes of your “sloppy formulation” doesn’t stop their.

    Since negligence can be both a civil matter, AND a criminal one, it could also be correct that he meant the negligence was criminal.
    😐

    Oh, I’m sorry. In your Law School they don’t teach about Criminal Negligence?

    Ok, allow me to “edyoocayte” you some more.

    Negligence is classifed under criminal law when “actus reus” (a guilty act) AND “mens rea” (intent to commit a guilty act) are both demonstrable concurrently at the time of the event.

    Since we have documented evidence proving that Bob Novak with regards to certain pedistrians, has demonstrated a hostility to them, which can be seen as an intent to injure should the opportuntity present itself (he should just shut up in interviews) one could argue that “mens rea” was present simultaneously with his “actus reus”, thus, the act constitutes criminal negligence.

    In fact, since the jury’s still out on this one, so to speak, we’ll have to wait until charges are filed, or not, before we know where and how the case will be handled.

    Now I’m not sure what your beef is with Professor Turely. Perhaps he gave you a low grade (no doubt deserved given your lack of understanding of criminal negligence), or if you are just are jealous of his monumental success in his career. But the fact is, its your “formulation” that was sloppy and false.

    Because not only could the term be used grammatically in a correct form as in the one was civil and the “other” (different one) was criminal, but it’s clear that criminal negligence might also have been implied, yet you insulted him prior to even hearing his explanation. Then AFTER hearing him explain it was merely essentially a typo, you still persist in assigning a false intent that was never Professor Turley’s intent in the statement, but yours.

    Your “formulation” was not only sloppy and false, it is dishonest and misleading, because you are accusing a well known, well written long time professor of law, of not knowing the simple, most basic difference between civil and criminal context, which obviously, he wouldn’t have lasted 10 minutes much less 10 years or more, teaching and or practicing law, if he did not.

    Its common knowledge he knows the difference between civil and criminal law. There is ample documented evidence of this, publically available should you chose to actually read something about the man you intend on slandering.

    Therefore your “mens rea” is evident in your “actus reus”, in your attempts to misrepresent what has already been identified by the author, as a “typo”, into something that it could not possibly have been, given the abundently available information of the author showing he could not possibly have intended his statement as you presented it.

    In other words, you bore false witness against Professor Turley, knowingly and with the intent to slander his reputation.

  6. First, I don’t have the power to unjustly damage Prof. Turley’s reputation, when I am merely criticizing his own words (unless I make those words up.) If I’m correct, then I’ve engaged in fair criticism; if I’m wrong or petty, I make myself look bad. But in neither case it is legally defamation or akin to defamation morally (I include the latter phrase because you can, today, defame public figures and get away with it, under Times v. Sullivan and subsequent cases.)

    Second, I won’t respond specifically to the the extensive arguments against me, not because they arn’t intelligent and on point, but because the matter has been exhausted, so it would be jerk-like for me to go on further.

    Third, I say this: All parties including me know that Prof. Turley knows the difference between a crime and a tort, and that Prof. Turley knows that negligence isn’t a crime. Turley was simply blogging fast, and thus didn’t take the time to use a more cramped phrase such as “further actions which could also form the basis of crimes” or whatever. Given that fact, it could be argued that my 2 posts were offered in bad faith.

    And guess what…such an argument would be correct.

    Of course, my admitting as much only confirms and reinforces my own great virtue. (Just kidding.)

  7. Brian, I am only skimming your posts and because my best guess is that you have been sitting around with your ‘buds’, who also don’t know what the f*** they are talking about – no one asked you or paid you for your legal advice. You expressed an opinion, no matter how ‘lame’ it is. OK?

  8. Brian
    1, July 25, 2008 at 9:59 pm


    First, I don’t have the power to unjustly damage Prof. Turley’s reputation, when I am merely criticizing his own words (unless I make those words up.)

    Steady there slick.

    No ones trying to set you up for a slander suit.

    It was just a figure of speach, lol.
    😀

    I doubt your words will impact his earning potential anytime soon.

  9. Brian
    1, July 25, 2008 at 9:59 pm


    when I am merely criticizing his own words (unless I make those words up.) If I’m correct, then I’ve engaged in fair criticism; if I’m wrong or petty, I make myself look bad.

    hmmmm…. “wrong”…. or “petty”.
    😐

    Lets see.

    You implied Professor Turley didn’t know the difference between civil and criminal matters when at 9:35 AM, you said;


    Civil litigation does not deal in crimes. It deals in contracts and torts, one of which is negligence.

    Most of us knew all this even before we went to law school

    Since you declare “Most of us knew all this even before we went to law school, you are clearly and undeniably implying that he does NOT “know this”, whatever the “this” is.

    And in this case, the “this” was;

    Civil litigation does not deal in crimes.

    Something most people without law degrees know the difference between.

    Yet there you are, implying that a well known well written highly experienced Law PROFESSOR, does not know the simply difference between civil and criminal litigation, something that is common knowledge to the general population, and of course, any first year law student.

    So yes.

    You’re now being more correct.

    Because not only were you “wrong”, but since you obviously knew this was merely and clearly what effectively constitutes a “typo”, then you were also being downright “petty”.

  10. Novak was diagnosed with a brain tumor yesterday.

    I have known people with brain tumors, and it’s entirely possible that he could have hit this guy and not known it.

    Nothing is ever as it seems sometimes!

  11. Pole-vaulting to conclusions is a dysfunction that has permeated American life. We are the Logo society that drinks stale coffee out of 20 dollar travel mugs. We drive dangerously because we are addicted to talking on cellphones. We find it difficult to disagree without framing the conflict in hateful judgment. We seem very comfortable in our lack of information – curiosity seems to have been destroyed by a plague in large segments of our society.

    Robert Novak may either be pulling a beautiful stunt – or have a brain tumor. The likelihood that this is a stunt is remote. That he was complicit in a White House scam and possible criminal activity is never far from my thoughts of him. That his demeanor and style became offensive to me is reality.

    That he purposefully and purposely fled the scene of a crime is not evident.

  12. If America is racist, ignorant or just plain stupid enough to elect McCain, here’s his first Press Secretary.

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