The seventh day of the Sines v. Kessler trial saw the plaintiffs put defendant Matt Heimbach of Traditional Workers Party on the stand to interrogate him for most of the day.
Plaintiffs’ attorney spent hours questioning Heimbach about his former allegiance to national socialist ideas, his personal love of various right-wing leaders and movements throughout history, various snippets of video from Aug. 12, various tweets and message board posts, and almost nothing about the central allegation that Heimbach and the 19 other defendants engaged in a criminal conspiracy to commit racially motivated violence at the Aug. 11-12, 2017 “Unite the Right” events.
Plaintiffs can call defendants to the stand in a civil trial, as there is no Fifth Amendment protection against testifying against oneself in a civil proceeding as opposed to a criminal trial.
The morning actually began with the continued presentation of the well-rehearsed video deposition of White nationalist turncoat Samantha Froelich, the former paramour of Eli Kline (aka Eli Mosely) and pro se defendant Richard Spencer, among others, who has since joined the “Life After Hate” anti-White fundraiser and propaganda group.
Identity Evropa and Kessler attorney Kolenich requested that defense cross examination of her video deposition be presented to the court, and U.S. District Judge Norman K. Moon said he would have to know what parts Kolenich wants to present.
A witness in a case can be deposed prior to a trial if they are outside the subpoena range of the court, in this case 100 miles. Defense has an opportunity to cross-examine the deposed witness at the time of the deposition.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys made much of Heimbach’s beliefs during the time of the planning of UTR, appearing to want to prejudice the jury against Heimbach by quoting memes and jokes from his group’s Discord server, making much ado about his off-putting optics, and trying to compare TWP to government-designated terror groups abroad.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys showed Heimbach in a video at an event wholly unrelated to Unite the Right, where he shouted, “The Day of the Rope is coming!” at Antifa. His co-defendant, Matt Parrott, was visible next to Heimbach holding a sign with a man being lynched labeled as “Zionist.”
The prejudicial editorializing got so bad that Judge Moon interrupted plaintiffs’ attorney Karen Dunn, chastising her for accusing Heimbach of terrorist sympathies, to which Smith strongly objected.
The objection was sustained and Dunn’s remarks were ordered stricken from the trial record.
Another time Dunn essentially asked why TWP were so concerned about being prepared with defensive implements, and why there were contingency plans for violence.
Heimbach replied, "We're used to being attacked by Antifa at rallies."
Dunn objected and said, as she did more than a score of times, "Move to strike that answer."
Judge Moon did not.
Dunn repeatedly tried to characterize TWP’s carrying of defensive gear like helmets and shields as “offensive weapons” but Heimbach was resolute in denying it despite her repeated attempts. Similarly she tried to suggest Heimbach’s tweets saying if a driver is hemmed in by violent counter-protesters they should #steponthegas meant he was instructing TWP members to run down counter-protesters.
But Heimbach successfully argued he meant that they should leave the scene and not get dragged out of their cars like Reginald Denny, who was nearly beaten to death in the Rodney King riots. He also managed to get it on record that several state legislatures had passed laws allowing motorists to drive away or through violent protesters if they feel their life is under threat.
Dunn had hard going through much of the afternoon questioning Heimbach. While many observers noted that TWP attorney Josh Smith had a slightly rougher start last week as he is less experienced than plaintiffs’ attorneys and only had four weeks to prepare while plaintiffs had four years, Smith got the better of Dunn repeatedly in objections.
It went so far that Judge Moon chastised and corrected Dunn multiple times without defense even needing to object, and denied the majority of Dunn’s relentless objections and motions to strike Heimbach’s answers to her questions.
One observer brought up the old lawyer joke, where a lawyer objects and the judge asks “On what grounds?” The lawyer replies, “On the grounds it could hurt my case.”
Characterizing the trial so far one observer noted, “There was an assumption (among defendants and UTR participants) going in to the rally that there would be police keeping the sides separate. There was an assumption going in to the rally that Antifa, as they had done in the past, would circumvent the police and attack.
“So none of the UTR pre-planning, whether by individual groups or collectively, ever discussed any kind of racially motivated violence or any desire to deprive anyone of their civil rights,” the observer said. “The plaintiffs must present evidence otherwise, even circumstantial evidence, even evidence that it was an implicit plan.
National-Justice continues, however, to caution readers that even an objective reading of the days’ or weeks’ events, evidence or testimony may be different than how a jury receives it.
Toward the end of the day, plaintiffs ended their questions for Heimbach and defendants got a chance to cross-examine.
James Kolenich of Kolenich Law Office, representing James Kessler, Nathan Damigo and Identity Evropa, simply asked if there were any connections between Heimbach, TWP or Parrot and Kessler, Kline or Indentity Evropa.
Heimbach answered in the negative.
Heimbach was asked if either Kline or Kessler told him to "take the ground early.” Heimbach said no.
Kolenich also asked if Heimbach took orders from Kessler or Kline.
“Absolutely not,” Heimbach answered.
Heimbach also clarified that he doesn’t consider Kessler or Identity Evropa “hardcore” enough to be part of the “hard right.”
Spencer asked similar questions about any existing relationship between himself and Heimbach, or if Spencer marched with TWP, and the answers were likewise no.
“There was a total divorce between yourself and myself in the lead up,” Heimbach said. “I’ve always viewed you as a bit of a dandy.”
Spencer paused and said, “Ok.”
Attorney James Campbell representing James Fields likewise asked if Heimbach knew or had met Fields prior to the UTR rally to which Heimbach responded, “No.”
That was the final cross of the day. Pro se defendant Christopher Cantwell will likely lead off in cross-examination Wednesday.
This is a civil trial and the jury consists of 12 members with no alternates. Jurors could drop out or be dismissed, but as long as six remain there can be a verdict.
The standard of finding here is a preponderance of the evidence, not beyond a reasonable doubt. A finding of liability in this court would require a unanimous verdict.
At heart in this case, is the 10 plaintiffs and their attorneys who allege that the defendants “conspired to commit racially motivated violence” at the legally permitted Unite the Right rally held in August 2017. The 2017 lawsuit – amended in 2019 – lists 20 White nationalist organizations and individuals, including the Daily Stormer’s Andrew Anglin, Matt Parrot, Matt Heimbach, Jason Kessler, Richard Spencer, Christopher Cantwell, the League of the South, the National Socialist Movement, the defunct Traditional Workers Party and Identity Evropa, and at least two chapters of the Ku Klux Klan.
The lynchpin of the plaintiff’s lawsuit is the claim that organizers planned the rally with the purpose of committing violence. The independent Heaphy Report, which plaintiffs have desperately tried to avoid being introduced as evidence in the case, proves this accusation to be a blatant falsehood.