Even as white supremacists involved in a civil suit pushed against requests to provide documents and communications about their activities, defendant Christopher Cantwell used a messaging platform to allegedly threaten one of the lawyers suing him.
On June 18 Cantwell posted an article about Roberta Kaplan, the lead lawyer on the case, to the messaging site Telegram, which is frequented by extremists.
“After this stupid kike whore loses this fraudulent lawsuit, we’re going to have a lot of fucking fun with her,” Cantwell wrote.
The threat was mentioned during a telephonic hearing Tuesday in federal court in Charlottesville, where lawyers discussed the snail’s pace of the discovery process in the lawsuit that alleges organizers and key participants in the Aug. 12, 2017, white supremacist rally planned and promoted violence against protected groups.
Cantwell has posted derogatory statements about Kaplan before, the plaintiffs’ lawyers wrote in a motion filed Tuesday, but his recent statement is a “thinly-veiled threat” that impairs the lawyers’ ability to carry out their work.
The lawyers asked the court to enjoin Cantwell to refrain from any future threats.
Cantwell already has been found guilty of assaulting and pepper-spraying activists on Aug. 11, 2017, and of violating conditions of his bond. He remains a defendant in another civil suit filed by people injured during the Unite the Right rally.
On Tuesday afternoon, shortly after news stories about the motion were published, Cantwell posted about Kaplan again on Telegram, calling Kaplan a “lying piece of Jewish filth.
A judge has not yet responded to the motion.
The plaintiffs’ lawyers recently threatened Matthew Heimbach, Elliott Kline and Dillon Hopper, who is representing the neo-Nazi organization Vanguard America, with sanctions for repeatedly ignoring discovery requests. On the phone call, Kaplan and fellow lawyer Michael Bloch also complained that they still have not received documents from other defendants.
Heimbach, former leader of the Traditionalist Workers Party, pushed back extensively against lawyers’ requests for the phone and computer he used in the lead-up to the rally, as well as their requests for social media accounts and log-ins to chat rooms.
He said both requests were entangled in a complicated domestic dispute. Heimbach had an affair with his father-in-law’s wife, beat his father-in-law, Matt Parrott, and then pleaded guilty to the assault in 2018 and spent some time in jail.
After the incident, Heimbach said, his former wife and a neighbor threw away his phone, computer, passport, Social Security card and other personal items.
“How can I fully meet all of my obligations, not because of anything I did like a messy fishing accident or throwing my phone in the toilet?” he asked, saying he would soon file affidavits from his former landlord and now-ex-wife that supported his description of the incident.
Heimbach also said Parrott had run the Traditionalist Workers’ Party social media accounts and Discord server, so Heimbach did not have access to the accounts.
“Any relevant objections have long since been waived,” Hoppe replied, saying Heimbach was still obligated to turn over any phone he had used since to discuss the lawsuit or Aug. 12, and to write down the relevant usernames so the plaintiffs could try to search archives for posts.
Similarly, Kline, also known as Eli Moseley, who served briefly as the head of Identity Evropa in 2017, said the only device he had kept from that time was an old cell phone, and that he no longer had access to his social media accounts.
Hoppe said Kline still needed to identify the usernames and logins for the defunct or deleted accounts, so that plaintiffs could ask social media companies to search for them.
John DiNucci, who is representing Richard Spencer, said the scope of the discovery is too broad and is pulling in documents related to Spencer’s ongoing divorce case. He said he is currently sorting through 300,000 documents that go back as far as 2014.
Hoppe said DiNucci and Bloch can discuss whether or not divorce documents are relevant, but that discovery cannot be put off further.
Similarly, Mike Kolenich, who is representing Cantwell, Jason Kessler, Nathan Damigo, and several other defendants, said that he worried complying with current discovery parameters would reveal the protected identity of rally participants.
Since there is already an order in place against revealing protected information, Hoppe said, the identities of people who are involved in white supremacist organizations but are not named in the suit should be safe.
Hoppe said he would order Kline, Heimbach and Hopper to provide initial information within the next week. Their depositions are scheduled for July and August. Other defendants’ accounts, phones, computers and documents must be shared within the month.