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Judge Orders Charlottesville Rally Organizers To Hand Over Evidence In Lawsuit

Unite the Right in Charlottesville.
Protestors at the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville preparing to enter Emancipation Park. Anthony Crider Creative Commons

Plaintiff’s in a federal lawsuit challenging organizers of the 2017 Unite the Right rally say defendants have withheld evidence and used other tactics to keep the trial from moving forward. Defendants in the case include Jason Kessler, Richard Spencer and neo-Nazi groups like Nationalist Front.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Joel Hoppe said in a court order last week he’s had to move deadlines for defendants to meet their discovery obligations. The trial was originally scheduled for this summer but has been pushed back to the end of the year. Hoppe ordered defendants to hand over their electronic devices and access to their social media accounts; evidence plaintiff’s say will show they conspired to cause violence in Charlottesville.

Amy Spitalnick, executive director of Integrity First for America, the organization funding the lawsuit, says defendants have tried every way to block the lawsuit and evidence collection.

“The most egregious violations of court orders and required evidence collection has been from Jeff Schoep,” Spitalnik said.

Jeff Schoep is the former head of the National Socialist Movement. Plaintiff’s said in a February court filing that they have not received a single document from Schoep a year and a half into the litigation.

They also claim Schoep fired his attorney to avoid signing a contract that would require him to turn over his devices for evidence.

Schoep told WCVE Wednesday he's complied with the judge's order. 

“I did not purposefully stall anything,” he said.

Schoep said that he fired his attorney over a lack of proper communication.

Nathan Damigo, another defendant in the case, asked a federal judge in January to halt the lawsuit against him because he’d gone bankrupt, but the judge declined.