On November 1, a hearing in the circuit court of Albemarle County VA will let us know whether the state’s judicial system, or at least its 16th Judicial District, is hopelessly politically corrupt. At issue: a motion from Unite the Right Tiki Torch protester Jacob Dix, who argues that Judge Claude V. Worrell Jr., (right) Chief Judge of the Charlottesville Circuit Court , is clearly biased against him and must recuse himself. (Dix also argues that all the judges in the Circuit must recuse themselves because they supported Worrall for Chief Justice.) Belatedly prosecuting Dix, Augustus Invictus, and other Tiki Torch defendants under an absurd legal theory is bad enough. But Worrell actually attended an Antifa organizing meeting that planned to disrupt the UTR rally right across the street from the Tiki Torch parade and denounced it to the police.
Writing last month about these politically motivated prosecutions, VDARE.com contributor Jason Kessler reported that defendant Augustus Invictus’ Motion to Dismiss strongly argued that the statute under which he and his fellow-defendants are charged, written specifically to stop Ku Klux Klan cross burnings, clearly didn’t apply to political protests. Hence two prosecutors had refused to charge UTR protestors under the law and the legislature did not amend the statute to include carrying torches. But a third prosecutor charged protesters anyway, six years after the march. (Unfortunately, on October 11 Judge Cheryl V. Higgins rejected Invictus’ motion, although he is still able to bring up the First Amendment issue at trial.)
Dix’s Recusal motion might be even more important. It argues that Worrell’s actions the night of the protest, August 11, 2017, along with the public activities and social media posts of his anti-white, communist wife and daughter, are irrefutable evidence of bias.
As far as Worrell’s actions that night, here’s a little Latin legalese: res ipsa loquitur. The thing speaks for itself. No one could possibly read Dix’s motion, as I have, and conclude any differently. Worrell is a tainted, partisan party.
Worrell has handled the cases of several Unite the Right defendants. He “made rulings adverse to those Co-Defendants that may have been influenced by his personal experience on August 11,” the motion argues. Worrell could preside over future hearings for Dix, and in a bench trial, he “could therefore be the ultimate factfinder at the guilt/innocence phase of Defendant’s case.”
“Judge Worrell will never—can never—provide a fair trial in this case,” the motion argues.
Judge Worrell … not only witnessed the events in question on the night of August 11; he was an active participant in them. He and his family attended the activist-organized interfaith meeting at St. Paul’s [Episcopal Church]. When the torchlit demonstration began, Judge Worrell saw and heard the event from directly across the street. He felt personally threatened by the demonstration to such an extent that he personally called [Charlottesville police] officers demanding immediate protection from Defendant and his fellow demonstrators. [Heaphy Report p.120] He and/or his family members may have even seen or interacted with Defendant that night. Few people on earth have more detailed personal knowledge of this case than Judge Worrell. He may be called as a witness by one or both parties in this case. [Emphases added]
Thus, the motion argues, Worrell will be “severely prejudiced” against Dix.
Beyond that, the judge and his wife and daughter “have all manifested a personal bias against” Dix and other defendants.
That’s because the communists who organized the church meeting did so to disrupt the Unite the Right protests, as the Heaphy Report made clear:
On the night of August 11, the Worrell family attended a training led by aggressive left-wing activist groups where they received instruction on how to “delay and obstruct” Defendant’s free speech, even to the point of breaking the law. These activist groups [Heaphy Report, p.85] believed Defendant’s free expression under the First Amendment constituted racist “hate speech.”
Judge Worrell’s attendance at this meeting suggests he and his family agree with the positions of those activist groups. His attendance alone therefore raises doubts about his impartiality because a judge cannot participate in activism opposing a Defendant’s political demonstration and then later adjudicate a criminal case based on that demonstration.
But Worrell isn’t the only problem. His wife and daughter are hard-Left—communist—activists who hate whites and their country. Their public statements even two years after the event prove that, the motion argues, and suggest they suffered psychological damage:
His daughter evidently feared her “large black father” would be the victim of a racial hate crime. His wife found it “surreal” to be “surrounded by Nazis.” And of course, his wife’s recent social media activity explicitly shows that at least one member of the Worrell family “hate[s] white people” and all their “white supremacy bullshit.”
The motion reproduces Kathryn Laughon’s social media posts, including the “blatantly racist” tweet. “Honestly, I kind of do hate white people,” she wrote. Unsurprisingly, Laughon’s X account, formerly Twitter, no longer exists.
Young Althea, who told a podcaster she feared for her “large black father,” is equally unhinged: “Fuck the police, fuck donald trump, and fuck America,” she wrote on Facebook.
[The Night the Lights Went Out in Charlottesville: Judicial Prejudice in a Southern Town, jasonkessler.us, October 2, 2023].
There’s much, much more from Kathryn and Althea, but that’s enough to get the gist of their deranged animus toward whites. The motion rightly asks whether Worrell considers himself an “anti-fascist” and whether he, “like his wife,” also “honestly” hates white people.
The Canons of Judicial Conduct for the Commonwealth of Virginia not only requires judges with “personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts” to recuse themselves, the motion observes, but also requires recusal when “the judge is a material witness in the matter.”
And that mandate applies if a family member is to the “judge’s knowledge likely to be a material witness in the matter.” The motion warns that Worrell and his wife and/or daughter will be called as witnesses. His wife will “certainly be called.”
The motion also alleges that Worrell has not, as the canon requires, disclosed information relevant to a possible recusal.
And even if Worrell thinks he can be impartial,
…the overwhelming amount of demonstrable, publicly available evidence raising serious doubts about his impartiality give the impression to any observer that the integrity of this case has been thoroughly compromised.
Another important point from the motion: Federal and state law governs recusal as well, and they demand recusal even for the appearance of bias. “Actual bias need not be shown” [emphasis added].
All those facts also mean that Worrell’s sitting on the case would compromise Dix’s 14th Amendment due process rights, the motion argues. And this segues into Dix’s next argument: None of the judges in the 16th District can judge the case fairly:
Any judge presiding over this case may be called upon to evaluate the credibility of Judge Worrell and/or his immediate family members as witnesses in this matter. Thus, any judge from this District would be required to possibly make an unfavorable ruling against their superior judicial officer or his family members. The natural conflict of interest in that situation, or at least the perception of such a conflict of interest, cannot be mitigated absent recusal of all judges from this district.
Of particular interest is Judge Cheryl Higgins, the judge who recently ruled against Invictus’ motion to dismiss.
Worrell has presided over hearings in cases over which Higgins also presided. Although Higgins has presided over Dix’s case and Worrell hasn’t, the motion argues that “it is possible, if not probable, that Judge Worrell has in some meaningful way reviewed, accessed, or managed Defendant’s case file as well.”
Then comes this zinger:
Notably, Judge Worrell and Judge Higgins often share chambers in this Court, with pending case files equally accessible to both. They share the same court staff. As such, any concerns about Judge Worrell’s impartiality are imputed to Judge Higgins as well due to their overlapping duties with respect to this matter. Neither Judge has disclosed the existence of any sort of conflict “wall” between them to avoid potential conflicts.
Given the above, the Court must recuse all judges of the 16th Judicial District from presiding over this case. Having any judge of the 16th Judicial District preside over this case raises the same [legal and ethical] concerns.
Higgins’ ruling on Invictus’ motion also offers a clear reason for recusal. Although two prosecutors said the torch-light march did not run afoul of the state’s statute on burning an object, and the legislature didn’t change that statute after the Unite the Right rally, she let the case proceed when, again, a third prosecutor charged the nine men with what amounts to what was called “anti-Soviet agitation” in Stalin’s Russia.
These charges are nakedly political. Higgins knows that.
Even the most ardent opponent of Unite the Right must wonder whether Higgins, who certainly knew Worrell attended the Antifa church meeting, could possibly have ruled fairly as Worrell peered over her shoulder.
That, of course, is the point of Dix’s motion to recuse. The judges can’t adjudicate fairly, and so Worrell and his subordinates must recuse themselves.
If they don’t, Dix, Invictus et al. will probably lose. Their only hope then would be appeals to the Virginia and U.S. Supreme courts to stop what everyone knows are Stalinist Show Trials.