Charlottesville, VA – The lawsuit against leading white supremacist organizers and groups began trial on October 25, 2021 at the federal courthouse in Charlottesville, Virginia. Attorneys with civil rights nonprofit Integrity First For America are representing victims of racist attacks at the ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville in August 2017.
NOTE: Rush transcripts are generated from Unicorn Riot’s live tweets posted in real-time while observing trial proceedings from inside the courthouse media room. Quotations and descriptions written here are not always precise verbatim quotes and sometimes use paraphrasing or shorthand to quickly capture and convey exchanges during court hearings. There may be some errors regarding details like jury numbers, exhibit numbers and dates as well as typos and missing punctuation. These rush transcripts do not capture every single moment, but are our attempt to provide the public with as much direct access to the trial as possible until full court transcripts are made publicly available at a later date.
Rush transcripts: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9 | Day 10 | Day 11 | Day 12 | Day 13 | Day 14 | Day 15 | Day 16
Read Unicorn Riot's live tweets from trial proceedings - Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9 | Day 10 | Day 11 | Day 12 | Day 13 | Day 14 | Day 15 | Day 16 | Day 17 | Day 18 | Day 19
Day 1 – Oct 25, 2021 (Collected from this tweet thread)
Judge Norman K. Moon just took his seat and begins by reminding those present that audio and video recording is forbidden in the court house. He now asks plaintiffs and defendants to identify themselves and their attorneys.
Roberta Kaplan will be speaking for plaintiffs today
Some defense counsel is appearing via zoom
Nazi organizers Christopher Cantwell and Richard Spencer tell Judge Moon they will be representing themselves Pro Se.
Judge Moon is going over COVID-19 precautions for court, says participants in the case must wear masks over nose and mouth when not speaking, and much social distance when possible in court
Judge Moon says there was an “issue” that came up over the weekend – the plaintiffs are asking for the case against Chris Cantwell to be separated from the case against the other defendants, stemming from Cantwell’s claims that he can’t properly review legal materials in jail.
Nathan Damigo, Identity Evropa and Traditional Workers Party oppose the motion to sever Cantwell from the case. Cantwell tells Judge Moon he opposes being severed from the case.
Cantwell says that he has been read legal letters over the phone & was delivered copies last night by US marshals. Cantwell reads a statement attacking plaintiffs, asks court to sanction plaintiffs and quotes the old antisemitic canard “they cry out in pain as they strike you”
Cantwell is trying to introduce new documents; Kaplan for the plaintiffs asks for time to review them
Judge Moon asks if there is any more matters to consider before bringing jurors in; plaintiffs say they don’t have any. Moon suggest taking a break to review the new documents filed by Cantwell before bringing jurors in. Recess now “for a few minutes” only, Moon says.
Based largely on the 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act, the Sines v. Kessler lawsuit brought by attorneys with Integrity First for America is using online evidence, including leaked Discord chats used to plan #UniteTheRight, to establish a conspiracy of violent racial animus.
Some of the leaked Discord chats we obtained show specific violent ideation and conversations amongst the alt-right/neo-nazi organizers preceding the rally. This evidence helped meet the high legal bar for such a civil conspiracy suit like this to proceed.
The August 11 torch rally & August 12, 2017 Unite The Right rally were marked by brutal fascist assaults against counter-protesters. The day infamously ended in the murder of Heather Heyer when neo-nazi James Alex Fields drove his car into protesters.
Many groups that helped organize the rally & participated in the planned violence are now defendants in the civil suit going to trial in Charlottesville today. These organizations include Identity Evropa, the Traditionalist Worker Party, League of the South, and Vanguard America.
The court recess has ended and Voir dire of potential jurors to begin momentarily. Plantiff attorney asks about the procedure for jurors being asked “uncomfortable questions.” Judge Moon says “I don’t know how to make people comfortable”
Jurors are being sworn in now
Judge Moon summarizing the case for jurors: “this is a civil lawsuit brought by a no. of plaintiffs against a no. of defendants…based on events in Cville on August 12, 2017…alleges defendants conspired to commit racially motivated violence…and in so doing caused plaintiffs physical and emotional harm…” Moon says the allegations include assaults on August 11-12 2017 as well as the August 12 car attack. Says defendants deny the allegations
Judge Moon estimates this trial will last 4 weeks and run 9-5 daily.
Jurors will be referred to by number, not by name. Judge Moon is explaining to the first batch of jurors how both sides in the case will be asking them Qs to determine their eligibility
Judge Moon asks potential jurors if they recognize or know any of the plaintiffs or defendants and their counsel. One juror says he knows “a little bit about everybody” based on “news outlets and stuff”. Moon clarifies to ask if he knows them personally, the juror says no.
Plaintiffs are reading the witness list so that jurors can say if they recognize any names. Says its a “long list”…the list is getting read now
People who were deposed but wont testify “live” include: Erica Alduino, Robert ‘Ike’ Baker, Patrick Casey, Michael Chezny, Burt Colluci, Ben Daley, Shane Duffy, Samantha Froelich, Bradley Griffin, Dillon Hopper, Vasillios Pistolis, Thomas Rousseau, Andrea Roberts, Angela Tabler (sp?)
The defense is adding former Cville vice mayor Wes Bellamy, a Charlottesville police official, and a few other names to the witness list. Chris Cantwell tells the court he doesn’t have his witness list.
Jurors are about to be questioned one at a time now, parties are discussing jury questionnaires being missing from some potential jurors.
Potential juror #150 is being brought in now for the beginning of Voir dire
Juror 150 asked if jury duty poses any problems for him “that it wouldn’t for most people”. He says “I work on a farm and my wife works at home and I think that’s gonna cause her a lot more work but that’s the way it goes”
Asked if he has any “physical or mental limitations that would prevent you from serving on the jury” – 150 says no except he has hearing issues and has a hearing assistance device that seems to have been provided by the court
On Qs 42 & 44 on the jury questionnaire #150 “expressed opinions” about some parties in this case, Judge Moon says. Moon asks 150 if he can set aside “preconceived” notions to decide the case. He answers “I’d like to think that I could separate it”
150 – “you can have initial core beliefs on something…it’s kind of hard to change your opinion but that’s what you do.”
Judge Moon asks him if he recalls seeing news about Unite The Right “in the last year”, potential jury 150 says “I don’t think there’s anything new” but says that he knows some people haven’t showed up and have been held in contempt.
Plaintiffs have no Qs for potential juror 150 (older middle aged white man). Defense via a note asks about his comment “we have been waiting for this day” – “what do you mean by that?” – Judge Moon
150: “as a community we want to get it behind us and see justice done”
On questionnaire Q #72, “would you be able to set aside any preconceptions you have, if any, about the Unite the Right rally…” juror 150 wrote “no…these people are terrorists.”
Judge Moon asks if he can set aside that opinion. 150 says “sorry but i don’t think I can” and is excused by Moon.
Judge Moon states officially that “I intend to strike 150 for cause”
Potential Juror #151 is next – an older white woman with white hair – is asked if jury duty would cause hardship – “I think I could do it.” Says she has “some health issues but I think I can get through it.” Says she doesn’t have reason to believe she can’t be a fair juror
Judge Moon is reading a note about potential juror 151 stating in her questionnaire that “white supremacists and racists came to Charlottesville”…asks her if she can set aside preconceptions as to whether individual defendants conspired for racially motivated violence.
She says “yes i can set aside what you explained”
(Qs for jurors are being sent via notes to the Judge who then asks jurors)
Moon asks 151 if she has any concerns about being identified as a juror depending on the outcome of the case, she says no.
Judge Moon asks 151 “do you have any opinion already that defendants are racists and white supremacists” and if she has opinions about August 11-12 2017, she says no. Judge Moon is letting her go to jury room now (not excusing her it seems). Potential juror 153 next
Potential juror 153 – younger looking white male with a mullet-like haircut was just sworn in
153 says he runs his own business so “taking off for four weeks would pretty hard for me.” Says he sells lawn gear. Moon asks if he has any employees, 151 says its “a one-man show.” Asked if his family has any other income, he says no.
“Would it be a real financial hardship if you had to serve for this time?” – Judge Moon
“Yes, sir” – potential juror 153
“Would the business close down or otherwise cease to function..?” – Moon
“Yeah, i could only work on weekends so it would be backed up like crazy” – 153
153 on his questionnaire said he could not abide by rules requiring the wearing of masks. Asked why, he says he’s asthmatic.
153 on his questionnaire also said he couldn’t set aside his opinions to judge the case based on the evidence
“I have opinions on the matter…I’m not sure I could be convinced otherwise…”
Judge Moon asks if he could just “try the case based on what you hear in the courtroom”, 153 says yes. He’s sent back to the jury room, Moon reminds him not to discuss the case with other jurors.
Up next is potential juror #158 – a 74-year-old Black man. Asked by Judge Moon about the 4 weeks expected length of trial, says “it would be a very serious problem for me – I’m a triple bypass heart patient and i take medication.” Asked if he would choose not to serve on the jury, 158 says “I choose not to” so Judge Moon lets him go.
Plaintiffs counsel is asking Judge Moon about a question he’s asking jurors about if they fear repercussions if they decide the certain way –
That q “may be experienced by the juror as threatening or potentially retaliatory…your honor plans to impanel an anonymous jury specifically so they don’t feel that way”, plaintiffs say.
Potential juror #159, a Black woman, was just sworn in and is asked about any potential hardship from weeks of jury duty.
159 sighs before answering “I am a school bus driver and there is a national shortage and i know in my county to be gone for a month is taxing for them to find a replacement…”
159 on her questionnaire said she had “feelings of a certain way towards hate groups that disrupt the peace.” Judge Moon asks her if she can set that aside and “try this case based solely on what you hear in the courtroom”, after a pause she says “I would think I could…”
(Judge Moon keeps calling Unite The Right “United The Right”)
159 sent back to jury room, not excused yet it seems.
Potential juror 160 coming in now
Potential juror 160 – younger looking man of color (we can’t see jurors very clearly on the live feed monitor provided in the media room) – asked if serving on jury duty would be a hardship. 160 says it would make him lose four weeks of work which would harm his masonry business and his ability to provide for his family – 3 kids and a spouse. Says he has only one employees.
160 also said he would have trouble wearing a mask as required, asked if he has medical reasons not to wear a mask – he says he has ADHD and anxiety disorder, “would affect my ability to think logically about things throughout the day” being made to sit around other people all day.
160 had also answered no on the questionnaire when asked if he could set aside his opinions when deciding the case.
Judge Moon says “none of us wants to wear a mask” before sending 160 back to the jury room, doesn’t look like he got excused yet. 164 next
Chris Cantwell says he asked about 160 saying on his questionnaire “it was against his beliefs as a Christian” to wear a mask and adds “having read the bible I know there’s nothing in there about wearing masks”
Potential juror 164 – 50s ish looking white woman – is asked if jury duty would be a hardship, she says no. Moon says her questionnaire said she couldn’t set aside her opinions to decide the case but she says “I don’t recall having said that” & says she could set them aside
164 asked if she knows of any reason she couldn’t be fair to all parties in the case – answers “I really don’t know a lot about them anyway in terms of the organizations… I do know that I would not have any involvement with ANY of them…”
164 says she has only been exposed to “what was on the news when it first happened…all the craziness that went on… I just thought the whole thing was a tragic nightmare… I didn’t make it a part of my life or anything. It was just something that was on the news.”
Judge Moon tells 164 that she has to look at the evidence as it pertains to each defendant and look at each defendant individually to decide if the plaintiffs have proven the case against each person. She says she’s not sure she understands the Q, Moon replies “I don’t blame you.”
164 says “yes” when Judge Moon restates the question about if she can separate defendants from one another in terms of assessing their guilt or innocence.
Judge Moon declares a ten minute recess.
Recess is done, potential juror 166 is in the booth now
Asked if the length of jury service would place an undue burden, and asked about covid measures and if they are a problem, potential juror 166 – a white woman – says she would be able to serve. Asked if she can set aside preconceived notions and judge the case just off of the law and the evidence, 166 says yes. Says she has no bias against any of the parties in the case and thinks she could render a fair verdict.
In her questionnaire, potential juror 166 said she has “unfavorable views against ‘antifa'” which she described as “an organization created to promote violence and social disorder”. She is asked “where those views come from” and she doesnt’ really answer the q but says “they’re all a terrorist organization…. I don’t really read the news.”
Moon asks if she can give the plaintiffs a fair hearing since “they aren’t a part of that organization”, she says yes.
Potential juror 166 says jury duty would be a bit of a burden since she works in an office with only one other person and “it would be hard to find coverage” while she would be out of the office. 166 is sent back into the jury room, reminded by Judge Moon not to discuss the case.
The next juror – 168 – says she has been avoiding public places due to covid so the safety measures in the courthouse wouldn’t eliminate her health concerns.
This potential juror is a slightly older white woman with graying hair.
“I would try to keep my personal views out of it but that would be hard to do”
“Could you follow the instructions of the court?”
“I believe I could”
“Could you set aside any preconceived notions…and decide solely on the law…?”
“I would try my best”
“Do you feel you could do it?”
Potential juror 168 is sent back to the jury room, Judge Moon says they may call her back “for additional questions”
Attorney for the plaintiffs are saying that 168’s jury questionnaire is illegible
Chris Cantwell asking “if there’s any other way than the binders to look at these surveys”
Richard Spencer complains that “we’re all sharing one binder”, Cantwell interrupts Spencer to suggest he switch seats with one of the lawyers
“I’ve got notes up to juror 210, after that I’m SOL” – Cantwell
Plaintiffs ask for a “discussion with the court” “before the lunch break”
Potential juror 172 -seems to be a white male – is in the booth now – Judge Moon asks him about the burden serving in the case for 4 weeks would place on him, he says no. 172 had expressed concerns about COVID but says he can still be ok to serve on the jury.
172 had wrote that “antifa is a group of extreme left wing members that is violent during their protests” on his questionnaire.
Judge Moon asks that if he heard antifa was present at Unite The Right, would he assume they were responsible for the violence?
“I would assume that was most likely” – 172
Moon asks that if the plaintiffs are not ‘antifa’ can he differentiate them and still decide the case fairly.
172 wrote on his questionnaire that he could set aside his opinions when deciding the case, Judge Moon asks if that’s still the case, he says yes. Moon sends him back to the jury room.
Plaintiffs have more Qs for this juror and ask for time to submit them – they’re being sent on notes for Judge Moon to read.
172 is asked if the plaintiffs prove “these defendants conspired to come to Charlottesville and conspired to take violent action… even though other groups may have committed violent acts, can you try the case btwn these plaintiffs & these defendants, regardless…?” 172 says yes.
Potential juror 176 is in now – being asked the usual question about hardship, medical concerns, etc. – doesn’t seem to be any
Judge Moon asks 176 if he’d heard of the “Unite The Right rally”, 176 confuses this with the term “the right to rally.” 176 says he doesn’t really know much about the event, hadn’t heard of the defendants. Tells Moon he doesn’t have any reason to think he couldn’t be a fair juror.
Some kind of squeaky device sounding like a rubber ducky just squeaked in the courtroom(?)
Plaintiffs submit a note asking 176 if he is “aware of any preconceived notions about the case” in favor of any parties”, he says no. The squeaky sound is back again, probably a chair(?)
Richard Spencer says “since we don’t have the questionnaire that he filled out, would it be appropriate for him to answer the questions that were on the questionnaire?” Plaintiffs suggest he fill out the questionnaire (apparently missing) – 176 says “it’s in my car”
176 leaves, probably to get the form from his car, 177 is to come in next. Plaintiffs ask to raise an issue before they come in. “In regard to some jurors’ extreme views about antifa, we do not think questions about the plaintiffs not being antifa…are sufficient”
Jurors with these views are “more likely to believe defendants’ claims of self defense…while we don’t think the plaintiffs are antifa we don’t think [stating that] cures the issue”.
Judge Moon. -“the evidence is likely to say that antifa committed certain acts of violence at this Unite The Right rally… but the fact that persons had not committed acts, that’s one of the things where… the jury says they will follow the law and the evidence, i don’t know”
Plaintiffs say they submitted a Q to juror 166 who said on her questionnaire that she “Was not concerned about racial discrimination to Blacks, Hispanics or Jews” and that they had passed a question up to be asked that apparently wasn’t asked.
Plaintiffs say jurors with “extreme views about antifa” are more likely to believe defendants blaming antifa for events at issue in the case.
One of the defense attorneys jumps in to talk about a question about the defendants’ alleged intentions to commit violence, asks that it be clarified to say “racially motivated violence” instead of just “violence.”
Another defense attorney says its “problematic” to ask jurors to “disregard what others have done” in regards to “antifa.”
Richard Spencer says “its too much to ask that someone has no preconceived notions of antifa”, citing heavy media use of the term.
Judge Moon suggests plaintiffs and defense counsel discuss these Voir dire issues over the lunch break – Moon says he has already pushed back the fourth jury panel to not take place today.
Next juror to be examined is 177
Potential juror 177 says no when asked about potential hardship due to jury service and limitations from medical issues etc.
On his questionnaire Q about being able to set aside preconceived notions about Unite The Right and parties in the case, 177 (middle aged/older white man) answered No, Judge Moon asks him to explain. 177 asks to see his questionnaire, seems confused.
177 says “I don’t know why i marked no on that, it could have been yes.” When asked how he would answer today, he says yes.
Judge Moon asks if he has bias or prejudice against anyone in this case, 177 says he doesn’t know anyone in the case.
Judge Moon asks 177 if he sees antifa as “troublemakers”, if he could still find defendants repsonsible for violence at Unite The Right. 177 says he sees antifa on the news and thinks they cause “racial unrest” but “they don’t bother me.”
After 177 is sent back to jury room, Cantwell, Spencer and other defense counsel are honing in on the questions re antifa. Cantwell insists that plaintiff Seth Wispelwey is a member or “sympathizer” with Antifa. Spencer cites Joe Biden comment about antifa being a general cause.
Plaintiffs propose that the parties confer for ten minutes or so about issues with jurors. Judge Moon: “we’re gonna go back and forth”.
Plaintiffs note that the court is still waiting for questionnaires from 168 and 176.
Judge Moon brings up Juror # 153, asks for any objections for cause.
One of the defense counsel asks to strike 151 for cause because she said “racists came to Charlottesville” in her questionnaire and downplayed that in her answers. Plaintiffs disagree with this and said she was open and honest in her answers in Voir dire today.
Plaintiffs say that 151 said she could set aside preconceived notions about the defendants
Judge Moon says he will deny the motion to dismiss potential juror 151 for cause.
Judge Moon back to discussing juror 153, says he will excuse him due to hardship to his business.
Judge Moon says that “the jurors are ready to mutiny” – this is likely in regards to the fact that a lunch break hasn’t happened. Plantiffs say they will work through the lunch break but “now might be a good time”
Judge Moon just left court, lunch break is now in effect until 2 PM eastern time
Court is back in session post-Lunch break, Judge Moon shuffling through the freshly returned jury questionnaires from potential jurors 168 & 176
Judge Moon discussing Q 72 w juror 176
“”Would you be able to set aside pre-conceived opinions (if any) you may have about the Unite the Right rally, this case and the parties therein, and reach a decision based solely upon the evidence you hear at trial in accordance with the law as instructed by the Court?” – Q 76
Juror 176 seems to be an older white male (the court’s live video display in the media room is not exactly the Mona Lisa). Asked about his views on racial discrimination he says “I believe everyone is equal”
176 says he understands and agrees “everyone is individuals” and to be “treated separately” in terms of assessing the charges against the defendants.
Judge Moon asks potential juror 176 “do you believe both white and black people can be subject to racism?”
he answers “there’s racism on both sides, yes sir”
176 is off the stand now, potential juror 159 is now coming in. Defense butts in before she enters to say they think she took too long to agree to be impartial and they want her struck. Plaintiffs say it matters that she is the only minority juror on this panel
Plaintiffs also argue that 159 said “I know how to be fair” and did agree to set aside her opinions and decide the case based only on the evidence and the law after “repeated questioning by the court”
Christopher Cantwell says “this juror seems to have extreme views on race…she seems to be concerned about racism in all categories except against white people”
Richard Spencer says 159 took too long to agree to be impartial.
Judge Moon agrees to dismiss 159 for cause.
Plaintiffs are now arguing to dismiss potential juror 160 for cause, citing his saying he couldn’t wear a mask due to ADHD/anxiety and his admission that he is prejudiced against certain groups. Judge Moon dismisses 160 for cause. Now onto 164
Audio on the video feed in the court’s media room has gone dead but it appears court is still going on
audio is back, Christopher Cantwell has been talking about his allegations that certain plaintiffs can be called “antifa.” Plaintiffs are arguing that a certain juror believes antifa are “terrorists.”
Christopher Cantwell says he plans to mention plaintiff Seth Wispelwey tweeted “Jesus is Antifa”.
Plaintiffs move to dismiss the same juror due to her being unvaccinated and working in a small office with one other person. Moon pushes back on this
Judge Moon declines to dismiss juror 166 who said she thinks antifa is a “terrorist organization”
Potential juror 172 is now being considered
Plaintiffs cite 172’s admission that he would be inclined to blame antifa for violence at Unite The Right if he heard they were present
“the literal core of this case is the responsibility for violence at Unite The Right… when asked if he thought he would say antifa was responsible… he said “it would be most likely” – plaintiffs ask to strike 172 for cause, defense wants him. Judge Moon declines to dismiss
potential juror 168 is back up to be questioned now – Richard Spencer says he still doesn’t have a copy of her jury questionnaire
Question 72 on juror 168’s questionnaire wasn’t completed – Judge Moon reads it out to her to answer now. She answers “I believe so”. Moon asks “how sure are you are that you can?” She says “I believe so, yes”
168 says she thinks she can be impartial, steps down to return to jury room. No objections to strike on cause from either side so she’s passed
No objections to potential juror 176
No objections to potential juror 177
Spencer asks for “a few minutes to confer”, Judge Moon suggests 10 mins
Judge Moon is out of the big chair for a bit now, seems like the 10 min recess for parties to go over stuff just began
Judge Moon is back, Court clerk is describing how each side will get 6 strikes to eliminate a juror (defendants and plaintiffs all are sharing and co-deciding re using their limited strikes)
12 jurors will be empaneled for this trial
The first jury panel is back in court now as Judge Moon explains that they will now be finding out which of them are staying on
Court clerk explains that jurors will no longer be using their previous number but will be receiving new random numbers
Juror #3 – both sides pass (opt not to challenge)
Juror #4 – both sides pass
Juror #5 – both sides pass
Juror #7 – defense challenges
Juror #9 – plaintiffs challenge
Juror #11 – plaintiffs challeng
(remember these are new random numbers and don’t match previous jury no.s)
Juror #12 – plaintiffs challenge
Jurors # 164, 168, 177 (original numbers not the new random numbers) are sticking around for now it seems – they are qualified to serve on the jury panel. The rest are excused
confirmed: jurors 164,168 and 177 “will be on the jury”, Judge Moon says. He adds he hopes trial will start with opening arguments Wed AM but “can’t guarantee this will be the case.” Moon forbids the jurors from discussing or researching the case in any way.
Judge Moon is about to call in the second panel of potential jurors for the next round of Voir dire
Judge Moon reading the same overview of COVID precautions etc as before to this second panel of potential jurors
Judge Moon repeating the same summary of the case he gave to the first juror batch earlier. Again, the judge mistakenly refers to the August 12, 2017 Unite The Right as “United The Right”, a gaffe he has made quite a few times today.
Potential jurors in this panel: 183, 185, 189, 190, 194, 196, 197, 203, 206, 207, 210, 212, 213
They’re being sworn in by the court clerk now.
Counsel and parties for both sides just introduced themselves, jurors are asked if they know any of them.
Some jurors mention recognizing Cantwell & Spencer from media coverage but don’t know them personally.
Plaintiffs are naming witnesses they plan to call like they did earlier, to see if the jurors might know any of them personally. This is a direct repeat of this same process with the first panel of potential jurors from earlier.
Plaintiff counsel also again reading off names of people whose videotaped depositions will be presented at trial.
Also a repeat of listing new witnesses added to the case by defendants
This panel of potential jurors is now going to get escorted by Court Security Officers (CSOs)/marshals to the jury room before getting brought back in one by one for questioning
Bathroom break before new jurors come in one at a time
Potential juror 183 is being questioned now – Judge Moon asks if she would be unduly burdened more than the average person by serving. She says she “just got done having COVID and was out 16 days” before coughing into the microphone
183 coughs again a few more times before being excused from jury duty by Judge Norman K. Moon
Potential juror #185 is being questioned now – Judge Moon refers to him having written about concerns about COVID on his questionnaire (notably the last juror in the stand mentioned having covid recently and coughed on the mic 185 is now using; mic was not cleaned between jurors)
Judge Moon asks 185 – seems to be a white guy – about the part of the jury questionnaire about deciding the case based on the law and the facts despite whatever his opinions may be.
“I would try but being from this surrounding area I am aware of the Charlottesville riots and what took place, and i have formed my own opinions of it but I will try to keep a clear mind about it” – 185
Asked how sure he is about this, 185 says “I would find it very difficult…it’s sort of like having an anti-vaxer on a jury about getting shots…”
Asked about racism against different groups of people, 185 says he “does not consider white as a victim”
185 is asked about the jury Q “all people have a right to demonstrate regardless of their beliefs”
he answers “I don’t believe in any demonstrations toward hate as acceptable”
Moon: What groups do you associate with hate?
185: KKK, white nationalist
Judge Moon: do you know of any reason you could serve on this jury and not render a verdict fairly to both the plaintiff and the defendant?
185: I would try my best to do it fairly
185 excused back to the jury panel, 186 being questioned now. He mentions recognizing Cantwell and Spencer’s names from press coverage
185 describes attending a “peace and wellness response event” at the University of Virginia a few days after Unite The Right
185 tells Judge Moon “as a member of this community the events of August really left me with some emotional scar tissue, as much as I’d like to be able to overcome that I can’t look you in the eye and say that i can.”
Judge Moon sends 185 home. 189 up for Voir dire now
Juror #189 is asked about any burdens 4 weeks of jury duty would pose to him, he says he doesn’t see any
Judge Moon asks about the jury questionnaire part about applying the law as told by the judge regardless of opinion about the law.
Would you have any problem following that if it went against your own beliefs? You wrote on questionnaire that you would… – Moon
189: its up to the jury to decide if the law is just. That’s what i was taught in criminal justice class
189 also wrote on his jury questionnaire that “the counter-protesters should have stayed home.” Judge Moon asks if that opinion would impact his decisions on the case. 189 doesn’t really answer and says “I was just stating that I think they were there to cause trouble”
Judge Moon tells 189 “thank you, you may leave”. 189 also had a lot of trouble with the microphone and many of his answers it sounded like it was way too close to his face or rubbing on his face
Potential juror 190 being questioned now says he has heard of Richard Spencer from “random people” but hasn’t does his own research. Asked by Judge Moon if the things he had heard were “flattering or unflattering” he says he has heard “both flattering and unflattering” things
190 says he does not “have any opinion on” the Unite The Right rally
Moon asks 190 “is it your view that white people cannot be victims of racism?” 190 says he thinks “white people cannot be the victim of racism as we have seen in this country in the past”
190 is sent back to the jury room… potential jurors have been mostly white by far today
Cantwell has been talking about juror 190 but audio in the media room cut out so we missed part of it 🙁
Spencer is complaining about juror 190’s questionnaire answers re: antifa as “leaning towards their side.”
Judge Moon says juror 190 said he believed he could be impartial so he isn’t disqualified at this time
Juror 194 is now in the booth, says he’s retired so 4 weeks jury duty isn’t a hardship
Cantwell’s comments about potential juror 190 just now included talk about “critical race theory”
Judge Moon is asking potential juror 194 about his ability to follow instructions re: the law in spite of his opinions he might have
Judge Moon excuses potential juror 194
Juror 196 is up for Voir dire now
196 says 4 weeks of jury duty would be a hardship bc he’s part of a 2 person architecture firm and is the sole person responsible for 5 client projects
Potential juror 196 says he has participated in “some” political rallies, and had a practice downtown and was heavily impacted by the events of August 11-12 2017. “I can’t say it’s easy for me to forget that but I would do my best”
Judge Moon excuses potential juror 196
“he’s excused for cause and economic necessity” – Judge Moon
Potential juror #197 – a Black man following a stream of mostly white faces – is in the booth for Voir dire now
197 asked about hardship from 4 weeks of jury duty, says his hardship from serving wouldn’t be more than the average person.
197 is asked about q #42 from the jury questionnaire, he answered that he had heard news reports. Judge Moon asks now if he’s reached any conclusions about issues in the case, 197 says he hasn’t come to any conclusions.
Moon asks 197 if he can “set aside any preconceived notions or opinions you may have” – 197 says he doesn’t really have any
Judge Moon: “is there anything that you think the court should know that might influence your ability to judge the evidence in this case and impact your ability” to be impartial in the case…?
Question submitted via defense via Judge Moon: Do you believe white nationalists should be allowed to hold demonstrations?
197: I believe if anyone can get a permit from a govt body then they’re able to do it
Q from defense: do you believe white people can be a victim of racism or that they deserve to be?
197: anyone of any color can be a victim of racism, it happens every day
197 sent back to jury room
Potential juror 203 – seems to be an middle age white male is in the booth for voir dire – says he works in construction in a business where he can’t easily be replaced or filled in for – “I do all the work”. Has a family of 4 to support with no other income earners
Judge Moon again called Unite The Right “the United The Right” rally when asking juror 203 if he’d formed opinions based on hearing about the event
203: “I just feel that it was a horrible incident, I just feel that they were wrong”
Judge Moon: who was wrong?
203: the protesters, the Unite The Right…this all felt bad, the whole setup
Moon: would it be hard to set aside that opinion?
203: i watched all the news, had friends there, that’s the opinion i developed, i don’t know if i could set it aside
Moon asks 203 if he could decide based only on the facts and the evidence if selected for the jury. He says he believes he could. Defense submitting Qs via note to the judge now
Defense: qs 16-17 you didn’t state who you admire or don’t admire, do you have an answer now?
203: not really
Defense: you wrote in the questionnaire you wrote that you’re concerned about racism but not racism against white ppl
Cantwell: that was my Q i submitted it by mistake
Judge Moon asks 203 to be more specific about his hardship serving on the jury. 203 says “I just got over covid, i was sick for over a month” says he is still “fatigued from having covid” and hasn’t worked in two months. “Another month would hurt pretty bad”
Judge Moon sends 203 back to jury room
Judge Moon decides to dismiss potential juror 203 due to economic hardship
Potential juror 206 says he would face some hardship from serving on the jury for four weeks but “could do it”; he works in software development. Asked if he could decide the case based solely on the law and evidence, he says yes he could
206 says he has ben “influenced by the media so obviously i’ve got that baggage…but based on how the case is presented i would think about things” as instructed by the court
206: “if the plaintiffs don’t do a good enough job evidence, to be fair i would have to go the defense. I hope that they wouldn’t do that though…”
Judge Moon: you’re not favoring one side over the other?
206: I am, but if the plaintiffs don’t make their case well enough to be fair i would have to go with he defense
Moon: have you formed an opinion as to who. was responsible for the violence at the events?
Moon: should white nationalists be allowed to hold pubic events?
206: i suppose they have the right to, i don’t believe in that, but they do have the right to hold events
(these Qs are from the defense via notes passed to judge)
You said you’re concerned about racism but not racism against white people?
206: i don’t even know what that is, racism against white people
Judge Moon sends 206 back to the jury room.
Moon reminds counsel to write the name of the party asking a question when handing the note bearing the question to the judge.
Potential juror 207, a Black man, is up in the booth now – asked about the burden jury duty would impose he says it wouldn’t be above average
Do you have any moral or personal beliefs that would prevent you from rendering a fair and impartial verdict…?
Anything you think the court should know that would influence you [as a juror]?
Q from the defense for potential juror 207: who are 3 publicly known people that you admire most and least? (this was a q on jury questionnaire)
207: mostly my mother and father
Moon: what about anyone you don’t admire?
Judge Moon lets 207 retire to jury room
Moon asks about challenge for cause re 207. Cantwell doesn’t challenge for cause but says that he submitted a question that wasn’t asked (do you think white nationalists should be allowed to hold public demonstrations)
Potential juror 210 says no when asked about undue hardship and medical issues
210 is asked about having to wear a mask in court, says he can do it as long as he can take breaks but doesn’t feel confined around groups of people, which can give him panic attacks
q 29 on the jury questionnaire asks about being mistreated on basis of race, 210, who seems to be. an older white guy, says in high school he was assaulted by a “Samoan” due to resentment by “locals”…”football players liked to beat up on skinny white kids such as myself”
210 says he grew up in Hawaii, is the context in whihc that anecdote took place. Asked if it would impact his views on this case, he said no.
210’s questionnaire indicated he views BLM negatively. Asked why he said “their leader has said they’re all trained Marxists…as an American i am diametrically opposed to Marxism”
Q from one of the parties (Judge Moon didn’t make it clear who from): do you have views on who was responsible for the violence [at Unite The Right?}
210: all i remember is there were two sides
Q: what are your views on white supremacy?
210: It’s wrong but you have the right to express those views in this country…there is a right to be a white supremacist
Q: if the plaintiffs prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendants planned to commit racially motivated violence, could you find for the plaintiffs?
Q: if you heard counter-protesters described as communists etc would you view them negatively based on your views of Marxism?
210: it wouldn’t matter to me what they were, i would look at it in terms of if they were breaking the law
210 was sent back to the jury room. 212 being questioned now
Moon: any reason you could not be a fair juror?
Moon: have you formed or expressed any opinion about any issue in the case already?
(212 is a Black woman)
Richard Spencer says he is just now reading 212’s jury questionnaire, might have questions
No Qs for 212 from the defense or plaintiffs, she just went back to the jury room
Juror 213 says he would have to check with his doctor to see if its ok to serve as a juror for 4 weeks due to arthritis. Says it would be hard to sit for an hour to an hour and a half at once, ” I can only sit for a short period of time” without stretching
asked if he is retired, 213 says “kind of”
213 is a Black man
213 clarifies that he doesn’t have to ask his doctor but just doesn’t want to miss his appointments. Moon asks when the next one is, 213 says it wouldn’t be during the time of the trial.
Judge Moon calls the event “United The Right” again but catches/corrects himself this time.
Moon asks 213 if he could follow instructions about the law in this case even if it contradicts his own views “about what the law should be.” 213 says yes he could
Judge Moon asks for questions from the parties re 213, defense says they have some
Moon: have you formed any opinion about the issues involved in Unite The Right rally?
Do you have any opinions about who might be involved in the violence at the rally?
Judge Moon: you will be told that you have to decide this case separately as to each defendant… if one as found guilty would that automatically make you find others at fault?
213: no sir
Moon sends 213 back to the jury room
Moon brought 207 back in to ask Cantwell’s Q that was missed about if white nationalists have the right to hold public rallies…207 answers yes
Cantwell asked about a question of his that did not get asked to 213. Judge Moon says he declined to ask the Q from Cantwell bc he felt it was “humiliating” and inappropriate
Defense is trying to get Judge Moon to strike 185 based on saying “demonstrations of hate are unacceptable” (Spencer’s words). The plaintiffs emphasize that he said he could follow the facts and the law, solely, when asked by the court
Karen Dunn for the plaintiffs is saying other jurors with strong opinions (including more favorable to defendants) were passed without being struck for cause in the previous round. Judge Moon says he will excuse 185 for cause due to his “strong views”
Potential juror 190 up for debate now
190 was already dealt with apparently… not made clear exactly how
194 has already been excused. 197 now up for discussion
Cantwell challenges 197 for cause – “he indicated he was concerned about racism but not racism against whites”
Judge Moon denies Cantwell’s motion to strike 197 for cause – “I think he’s qualified”
Defense wants to dismiss 206 – “he’s expressly and openly saying he wants the plaintiffs to win the case..”
Plaintiffs state that 206 is qualified – “on every question that he was asked he gave an answer that was textbook impartiality…he said he could render a verdict fairly…set aside feelings…consider things objectively…”
Karen Dunn for the plaintiffs says 106, qualified in the last round, had “extreme views about antifa” and didn’t promise to be fair but was allowed in the pool. Judge Moon gets quite cross at Dunn over this, telling her not to mention other jurors
Judge Moon says he won’t strike 206 for cause yet… Spencer also objects to 206 due to his daughter being supporting of “racial justice”.. “going against your own daughter seems to difficult for anyone to achieve”… Judge Moon strikes 206 for cause.
207 is up now.. no objection either side it seems.
Plaintiffs ask to address 210… “210 at no point today was wearing his mask properly over his nose and mouth despite the court’s instruction… on his questionnaire he says he has anxiety and discomfort and that he if he has to wear the mask the whole time he can’t do that…”
Judge Moon says he finds 210 qualified and will not excuse him for cause.
Richard Spencer says he couldn’t understand juror 212 (a Black woman)…”seems dubious but i can’t really articulate a case against this person…seems like she doesn’t want to…” Judge Moon says it says on her form she’d been on a jury before. Moon says he won’t strike 212
Spencer tries to get Judge Moon to strike 213 (older Black man w arthritis), plaintiffs want to keep him. Judge Moon is calling him back in for more Voir dire questioning
Judge Moon asks potential juror 213 if he’s “confident he can keep track of complex information across a 4-week trial”. 213 says yes, he can. Moon sys thank you, that’s all, sends 213 back to jury room.
Cantwell asks to speak before Judge Moon’s decision re 213, trying to imply that 213 wasn’t up to being a juror, Moon reiterates that he found Cantwell’s question “insulting.” Spencer says its “disturbing” that 213 had “no opinion” after “media saturation” about Unite The Right
Judge Moon fins 213 is “qualified and he’s on the panel.”
6 jurors from this round have made it onto the panel of qualified jurors. Both sides will get to use strikes now
Court is in a ten minute recess
Court is back in session
Court clerk tells jurors they will now be referenced by random numbers different from their previously assigned numbers.
Lightning crackled amid a wave of heavy rain that started after 5 pm, Judge Moon made a comment about giving jurors ride to their car
Juror #1 – plaintiffs pass, defense challenges. Plaintiffs ask to approach the bench, feed is muted while a sidebar takes place
(reminder these are random numbers not previously used numbers)
Sidebar convo w Judge Moon and all parties/both sides is still going, seems pretty involved.
Sidebar still going, an abnormally long sidebar at this point. Various parties from the defense keep approaching the bench, then walking away, then coming back. Richard Spencer seen repeatedly holding his head in his hands.
Ok sidebar just now ended after ~20 mins, audio is back on on the feed.
Now its on to juror #2 – both sides pass
Juror #3 – both sides pass
Juror #5 – both sides pass
Juror #7 – plaintiffs pass, defense challenges
Juror #14 – both sides pass
4 jurors – 207, 210, 212, 213 are getting called back from the second panel (we believe) but its not quite clear due to the extremely extremely poor audio available from that portion of the hearing just now – that’s our best estimation based on what we’ve gathered.
2 more jury panels slated for tomorrow – Judge Moon hoping to start opening arguments Weds AM. Roberta Kaplan for the plaintiffs expressed concern about juror 210 still not wearing his mask properly, Moon said he’d have the marshals speak with him about it.
So that’s 7/12 jurors seated so far by our count, but again, some of those deciding moments were extremely unclear and basically unavailable to hear in the AV feed the court is providing.