Charlottesville Solidarity Civil Trial on Friday: Jury begins deliberation

NS Unite the right rally was held on August 11 and 12, 2017 to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. When violence takes place, it reaches a climax when James Fields – who was protesting the removal of the statue – drove his car through a crowd of protesters, injuring dozens and killing a 32-year-old man Heather Heyer.

Fourteen people and 10 white nationalist and extremist organizations have been sued by some protesters and others in a civil lawsuit, who allege they sustained life-changing injuries at the White House. Demonstration.

The plaintiffs, which include town residents and protesters injured in the clashes, are seeking statutory damages and damages for the physical and emotional injuries they suffered. due to protests. They also protested that the organizers of the protest participated in a plot and planned violence to incite a religious and racial war.

Defense attorneys and the two senior defendants who are representing them argue that none of the plaintiffs can prove the defendants committed acts of organized racial violence.

Close argument conclude Fifth – send the legal battle to the jury.

The jurors received their verdicts Friday morning and began deliberations.

U.S. District Judge Norman K. Moon said that after Friday, if the jury still hasn’t reached a verdict, the court will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. speak.

In each case, a jury will decide whether a defendant is liable for damages. In a civil trial, plaintiffs’ attorneys must prove the defendant is liable by “evidence superiority,” Moon told jurors, which means 50.1% or more. than the chances of the claim being true.

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

In addition, the plaintiffs must demonstrate that the conspiracy was motivated in part by “animus” against black people or Jews or because the plaintiffs supported those communities and that the conspiracy was intended to deprive their right to be free from racial violence, the jury’s instructions said.

Ultimately, plaintiffs must prove that at least one person in the conspiracy “performed an overt act” in perpetuating racial violence and that plaintiffs were injured as a result of that conduct, according to the guidelines. .

4 cases converging to test America's justice

According to one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs, Roberta Kaplan said the plaintiffs hit by Fields’ vehicle are seeking $7 million to $10 million in damages while others are claiming $3 to $10 million in damages. 5 million dollars.

Plaintiff’s lawyer said that it was not a problem that some of the defendants did not know each other

A strong team of attorneys under the umbrella of the nonprofit Integrity First for America are representing the plaintiffs in their civil cases.

On Thursday, during the closing argument, attorneys for the plaintiffs told the jury that the defendants were preparing for the “Battle of Charlottesville,” and that the messages sent between them and their actions in the wake of the case. violence is proof of a conspiracy.

Concluding arguments made at the Charlottesville Unite the Right civil trial

Kaplan told jurors they should find the defendants liable “according to the law, to the truth and to common sense.”

Another attorney for the plaintiff, Karen Dunn, points to the defendant Christopher Cantwellparticipation in the protest alleges, “He’s there because he has a lot of armed extremists watching. …He can promote, facilitate, and commit violence.”

Dunn also demonstrated to the judges how the protest organizers issued calls for shields and other weapons, including flagpoles and pepper spray, which they called “gas.” .

She also brought in messages from other white supremacists who supported the idea that street protesters should be run away.

“This is reasonably foreseeable,” says Dunn, “and assumes that all members should be held accountable for it.

“The evidence in this case is very clear that this plan went as intended,” Dunn said.

Dunn noted that many of the defendants claimed they didn’t know what was going on or that they didn’t know each other, but “it doesn’t matter, they’re still part of the plot.”

“This is about the use of force. This is about taking over space and that was the plan for the Battle of Charlottesville,” Dunn said.

Defense says they did not initiate deadly violence

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

He said the horrific injuries suffered by many plaintiffs “didn’t prove conspiracy. And the plaintiffs never claimed they did.”

Flowers surround a photo of Heather Heyer, 32, who was killed when a car plowed into a crowd protesting against a rally by the white far-right Unite the Right party, Aug. 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Spencer, who is defending himself, said he was not part of a conspiracy because he had never participated in conversations on an app used by other defendants. Then, in a tense moment between Spencer and the judge, Spencer recalled then-President Donald Trump’s infamous statement about the protest: “There are good people on both sides.”

But Moon told him that quote was never included in the evidence. Spencer said he agreed with the sentiment, ignoring the judge’s order. “There are some bad people on both sides,” Spencer said, referring to antifa.

The defense was notably less cohesive than the plaintiffs – sometimes blaming the violence, claiming they didn’t like each other, sniping each other, and claiming they barely knew each other.

They have said they did not initiate the deadly violence that followed, arguing that they were exercising a First Amendment right to protest. They also say there was no conspiracy and that the violence stemmed from law enforcement’s failure to keep opposition groups separate.

CNN’s Mark Morales, Steve Almasy and Amir Vera contributed to this report.


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