Jury deliberating in ‘Unite the Right’ riot civil trial

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ASPartOfMe
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20 Nov 2021, 10:17 am

Jury finishes deliberations without reaching a verdict in Charlottesville Unite the Right civil trial

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The jury in the civil trial against the organizers of a two-day Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, finished their first day of deliberations without reaching a verdict.

Judge Norman Moon sent the jury home and told them to come back Monday and be ready to start at 9 a.m.

Fourteen people and 10 White supremacist and nationalist organizations were sued in a civil lawsuit by some rallygoers and others who argue they suffered life-altering injuries at the protest.

The plaintiffs, who include town residents and counterprotesters injured in clashes, are seeking compensatory and statutory damages for the physical and emotional injuries they suffered due to the rally. They also contend rally organizers engaged in a conspiracy and planned the violence to ignite a race and religious war.

Defense attorneys and two high-profile defendants who are representing themselves argued none of the plaintiffs had proven the defendants had organized racial violence.

The jury will decide in each instance whether a defendant is liable for damages. In a civil trial, plaintiffs' attorneys have to show a defendant is liable by a "preponderance of evidence," Moon told jurors, meaning 50.1% or greater chance of the claim is true.

To succeed, the plaintiffs must prove the existence of a conspiracy involving two or more people, according to instructions given to the jurors.

Also, plaintiffs must prove that the conspiracy was partially motivated by "animus" toward Black or Jewish people or because the plaintiffs supported those communities and that such conspiracy aimed to deprive them of their right to be free from racially motivated violence, the jury instructions say.

Finally, the plaintiffs must prove that at least one person in the conspiracy "took an overt act" in continuing the racial violence and that the plaintiffs were injured because of that act, according to the instructions.

The plaintiffs who were hit by Fields' car are seeking $7 million to $10 million in compensatory damages while others are asking for $3 million to $5 million, according to one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs, Roberta Kaplan.

A large team of powerful lawyers under the umbrella of the non-profit Integrity First for America are representing the plaintiffs in their civil case.

On Thursday during closing arguments, attorneys for the plaintiffs told the jury that the defendants had prepared for the "Battle of Charlottesville," and messages sent between them and their actions after the violence were proof of a conspiracy.

Dunn also demonstrated to jury how the rally organizers put out calls to get shields and bring other weapons, including flagpoles and pepper spray, which they referred to as "gas."

She also showed messages from other White supremacists who support the idea that demonstrators in the street should be run over.

"This is reasonable foreseeability," said Dunn said, arguing that all the members are liable for this.


James Kolenich, attorney for Jason Kessler and two other defendants, told the jury, "Hearing all this testimony or hearing all this from the plaintiffs, I want you to say, 'So what.'"

He said the horrific injuries that many of the plaintiffs suffered "don't prove a conspiracy. And the plaintiffs never claimed they did."

Spencer, who is defending himself, said he was not part of a conspiracy because he never participated in chats on an app used by other defendants.

The defense notably displayed less cohesion than the plaintiffs -- oftentimes shifting the blame for the violence, arguing they didn't like each other, taking snipes at one another and alleging they barely knew each other.

They have said they did not initiate the deadly violence that ensued, arguing they were exercising their First Amendment right to protest. They also say there was no conspiracy, and the violence stemmed from law enforcement's failure to keep the opposing groups separated.


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cyberdad
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20 Nov 2021, 9:12 pm

ASPartOfMe wrote:
She also showed messages from other White supremacists who support the idea that demonstrators in the street should be run over.


Gosh! aren't these the "fine folks" Trump was referring to?

It's been a number of years and I am wondering why the issues relating to injured protesters have not been resolved?

There was also a militia man who was filmed unloading his pistol into the crowd (no provocation).

https://edition.cnn.com/2017/08/27/us/m ... index.html



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20 Nov 2021, 9:42 pm

cyberdad wrote:
There was also a militia man who was filmed unloading his pistol into the crowd (no provocation).

https://edition.cnn.com/2017/08/27/us/m ... index.html


Actions like that are only going to become more common in the future. :|


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20 Nov 2021, 9:56 pm

There were 19 people injured after the Charlottesville march. Most of the injuries were perpetrated by the "Unite the RIght" made up of Virginia Tech conservative students, members of various right wing groups including the Proud boys (the same bunch whom Kyle Rittnhouse was fraternising with while on bail) and other militia like the oath keepers.

There was one case where a protestor was surrounded and beaten close to death, The attackers were never confronted by the police (shades of the Kenosha cops) and so the perps could not be found or prosecuted.



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23 Nov 2021, 7:23 pm

Jury finds Unite the Right defendants liable for more than $26 million in damages

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A jury has awarded more than $26 million in damages after finding the White nationalists who organized and participated in a violent 2017 rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, liable on a state conspiracy claim and other claims.

But the jury in the federal civil trial said Tuesday it could not reach a verdict on two federal conspiracy claims.

Some of the most prominent figures of the alt-right -- Jason Kessler, Matthew Heimbach, Richard Spencer and Christopher Cantwell -- were among the defendants.

Despite the large jury award, there's the question of whether the plaintiffs will see much of that money. Fields is serving multiple life sentences. Some of the other defendants -- individuals and White supremacist organizations -- have indicated they are financially stressed.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs said they intend to relitigate the two federal conspiracy charges.

The first federal conspiracy claim was the most prominent against the defendants because it alleged the defendants conspired to commit racially motivated violence while the second alleged the defendants had knowledge of a conspiracy and failed to prevent it.
"We intend to get a verdict on those counts in the future," Kaplan said.

Amy Spitalnick, executive director for Integrity First for America, the group that funded the suit, called the multimillion dollar decision a message.

A jury awarded the plaintiffs $11 million in punitive damages on a Virginia conspiracy claim. On that claim, each defendant is liable for $500,000 each. Five organizations are liable for $1 million each.

The jury only awarded $7 to the plaintiffs in compensatory damages on the civil conspiracy claim.

In general, compensatory damages compensate (or make whole) the injured party for their loss or injury. Punitive damages are considered punishment when the defendant's behavior is found to be particularly harmful, such as if the defendant intentionally engaged in willful misconduct.

For the claim that some defendants subjected plaintiffs to racial, religious or ethnic harassment, violence or vandalism, Kessler, Spencer, Cantwell, Elliott Kline and Robert "Azzmador" Ray were each found liable for punitive damages.

Plaintiffs Natalie Romero and Devin Willis were awarded $250,000 each in compensatory damages.

In the same claim, the jury also found Fields liable, but did not award any damages.
It also found Fields liable for $12 million in punitive damages total for claims of assault or battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The civil lawsuit in federal court sought to impose consequences on those who planned the rally and Fields for the people he injured or traumatized when he ran his Dodge Challenger into the crowd.

But even before the trial, the plaintiffs had won in some ways due to the national outrage over the violence. Richard Spencer stopped his public speaking tour and has called the case "financially crippling." Jeff Schoep and Heimbach renounced White supremacy and stopped organizing White power activity in public.

Schoep gave the group he led for more than two decades, the National Socialist Movement, to a Black civil rights activist who died shortly thereafter. Identity Evropa, one of the groups named in the suit, rebranded under a new name twice before disbanding.


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23 Nov 2021, 10:54 pm

Won;t these jokers follow their messiah Trump and just file for bankruptcy?