KEarlier: Black Antifa Chief Judge Claude V. Worrell Must Recuse Himself From Charlottesville Tiki Torch Show Trials and Maybe There’s Hope For Justice In Charlottesville: Judges Recuse Themselves From Dix Tiki Torch Case
The entire Albermarle County VA prosecutors’ office has just been forced to recuse for the appearance of bias, in the latest explosive development related to the 2017 Unite The Right torch demonstration. This follows the December 2023 recusal of the entire 6th Circuit Court over Chief Judge Claude Worrell’s undisclosed status as a potential witness and counter-protester. Taken together, the scope of the conflicts behind the prosecutorial and judicial recusals is unprecedented—another example of what VDARE.com calls Charlottesville Narrative Collapse.
(For more background read my original investigative reporting piece, “The Night the Lights Went Out in Charlottesville,” which helped lead to the recusal of the court.)
The four-hour hearing on Monday, January 8th involved a blistering tour de force by defense attorney Peter Frazier arguing that the Albemarle Commonwealth Attorney’s office should recuse because of Assistant Prosecutor Lawton Tufts’ undisclosed history as an operational and legal adviser to radical Left counter-protest groups before and during the Unite the Right rally [Albemarle County prosecutor pushed out of 2017 torch case, by Hawes Spencer, Charlottesville Daily Progress, January 8, 2023]. (Read Frazier’s Motion to Disqualify here.) The hearing was presided over by recently appointed Judge H. Thomas Padrick Jr., a substitute judge and adjunct professor at the conservative Christian Regent University. Frazier brought in emails, obtained through FOIA requests, showing Tufts aiding and abetting radical anti-white hate groups like Black Lives Matter and Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), who mobilized to prevent defendant Jacob Dix and other permitted protesters from engaging in First Amendment activity during the Unite the Right weekend in August 2017.
Frazier called to the stand a number of powerful UVA Law School–connected Leftist ideologues like Ben Doherty, Barbara Armacost, and Anne Coughlin to testify. In addition to being prosecutor Tufts’ friends, they have been the principal figures pushing to have felony “burning an object” charges brought against the peaceful UTR protesters who carried lit torches—a time-honored American custom—during their march to the Thomas Jefferson monument at the UVA Rotunda on August 11, 2017. They also waged the successful campaign to have myself (I’m actually a UVA alumnus) and Richard Spencer barred from UVA grounds for participating in the protest. Voluminous emails showed the extent of Tufts’ collaboration with these fanatical political enemies of the defendant. Coughlin even had to testify about representing BLM with Tufts at meetings with Charlottesville officials concerning the Unite the Right rally.
Also called to the stand: recently recused black Chief Judge Claude Worrell’s white Antifa wife Kathryn Laughon. Laughon had been publicly advocating on social for the “burning an object” charges to be brought against defendants for the August 11 protest and issuing venomous proclamations like “Honestly I do kind of hate white people.”
Judge Padrick limited questions to Laughon about who was at the “counter-protester training” at St Paul’s Church, across the street from the torch demonstration [Standing Up for Charlottesville, by Mary Wood, University of Virginia School of Law News, August 16, 2017]. Laughon, her husband Judge Worrell, and their America-hating mixed-race daughter Althea Laughon-Worrell claimed to have witnessed cardinal events related to the cases. Kathryn Laughon is also friends with prosecutor Tufts on Facebook.
Tufts was visibly shaken and furious after Judge Padrick ruled he could be put on the stand as an adverse witness. During the contentious exchange, Tufts admitted to his involvement with counterprotest groups. Tufts was represented by Soros-funded Commonwealth Attorney Jim Hingeley [Tweet him], who tried to argue that even though Tufts played a critical role representing BLM and SURJ throughout the events in question, he wasn’t technically there on August 11. The judge did not find this argument very convincing and noted that Tufts had clearly “picked a side.”
Tufts tried to claim that he wasn’t prosecuting an idea, but admitted if Frazier was accusing him of “opposing racists and Nazis,” then “Lock me up. I’m guilty.”
The problem with this virtue-signaling proclamation is that in America we have something called free speech. Being a “Nazi” is not a crime, it’s constitutionally protected. The moment was very revealing of Tufts political prejudice.
“So let me ask you this,” Padrick asked during a particularly revealing exchange with Hingeley, “why did it take six years to bring the indictment?” Hingeley reportedly stuttered that the investigation had to be reinitiated.
During the examination, Frazier was able to confirm that Tufts was not the only prosecutor with a clear conflict of interest. Armin Zijerdi (this is an Iranian name), another assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney, was also a counterprotester during the Unite the Right rally weekend. Zijerdi is also a former public defender, like Hingeley himself, and at least one other Hingeley Commonwealth’s Attorney [Hingeley sworn in, by Tyler Hammel, Charlottesville Daily Progress, December 17, 2019].
Judge Padrick was critical of all these revelations. He disqualified the entire Albemarle Commonwealth Attorney’s office in lieu of appointing a special prosecutor. “Looking at the totality of the evidence that’s been presented, there is an appearance of a conflict, and the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office should recuse,” Padrick said.
Given the complexity of the dozen or so “burning an object” cases already on the docket (with more possibly to come) and the specious legal reasoning behind them, it is even possible that a new prosecutor could dismiss them all out of hand, given the political prejudice that clearly animated their prosecution.
After the hearing. Daily Progress reporter Hawes Spencer caught an exchange where the fuming Tufts refused to shake defense attorney Frazier’s hand. “Not after all the stuff you pulled, Peter,” Tufts hissed in response. Clearly he held a grudge that his political vendetta had been cut short in the name of justice [Albemarle County prosecutor pushed out of 2017 torch case, by Hawes Spencer, Daily Progress, January 8, 2024].
What comes next?
The Albemarle Commonwealth Attorney’s Office has already sent notice they plan to file a motion to reconsider, delaying the appointment of a special prosecutor. If that fails, they may file an interlocutory appeal. However, the defense is confident that, given the evidence on record and the January 9th ruling, it’s unlikely that such an appeal would succeed. No neutral observer could conclude that defendants could receive a fair trial under these circumstances with that Commonwealth Attorney’s office.
The motion relies on the argument that carrying a lit candle wick is not “burning an object” as construed by the statute (for example, burning a cross). A previous attempt to have the charges dismissed was shot down by Judge Cheryl Higgins, but she has since been forced to recuse herself because of her professional relationship to Judge Worrell.
With a new, untainted judge, it could be a whole new ballgame.
Jason Kessler (email him) is a journalist and civil rights activist. He was the permit holder for the 2017 Unite The Right Charlottesville rally, which was notoriously mugged by elected, uniformed, judicial, paramilitary and media Democrats. He has had bylines in VDARE.com, Daily Caller (which has deleted his archive in a fit of cowardice), and the now-defunct GotNews as well as on his own site JasonKessler.us. Follow him on Telegram, Gab, and Twitter. Subscribe to his news and opinion show ‘Happenings’ on Odysee and Bitchute.