See also: Narrative Collapse: Is Charlottesville’s James Alex Fields The Next George Zimmerman?, August 15, 2017
I don’t believe James Alex Fields Jr., 22, got justice from the U.S. court system, and I certainly don’t expect he will get mercy. [Man convicted of killing Heather Heyer in Charlottesville attack asks judge for 'mercy' by Alan Suderman, Associated Press/WJLA, June 22nd 2019] And I further believe that, to a considerable extent, this is the fault of his court-appointed defense attorneys, Denise Lunsford and John Hill.
Fields will be sentenced on Friday, June 28, for the (unconstitutional in my opinion) federal “hate crimes” to which he pleaded guilty, reportedly to avoid the death penalty—on top of his state conviction for the murder of Heather Heyer, etc., for which he already has been sentenced to an incredible Life plus 419 years.
According to AP’s Suderman:
…Fields' attorneys highlighted his difficult upbringing, but with much of the details redacted from public viewing. He was raised by a paraplegic single mother and suffered "trauma" by growing up knowing that his Jewish grandfather had murdered his grandmother before committing suicide…
On December 7, 2018, Fields was convicted of First-Degree Murder, “five counts of aggravated malicious wounding, three counts of malicious wounding and a count of leaving the scene of an accident,” and sentenced to life plus 419 years. And that was just for starters. [Neo-Nazi James Fields gets life in prison, plus 419 years, for killing protester at Charlottesville rally by Tamar Lapin, New York Post, December 11, 2018]
On March 27, 2019, Fields pled guilty in federal court to 29 out of 30 “Hate Crime” charges. [Avowed neo-Nazi pleads guilty to federal hate crime charges for deadly car attack in Charlottesville by Justin Jouvenal and Paul Duggan, Chicago Tribune-Washington Post, March 27, 2019]
As a Jew and an American, why should I even care about the fate of a neo-Nazi?
Let there be no mistake: I do think James Alex Fields Jr. is a neo-Nazi.
However, last I heard, being a neo-Nazi is not a capital offense.
So here’s why I care:
Officially, Fields enjoyed the presumption of innocence. Officially, prosecutor Nina-Alice Antony had to prove three elements:
In contrast, the defense team of former commonwealth attorney Denise Lunsford and John Hill were supposed to make a persuasive case that:
Each side had to demonstrate an inexorable logic hurtling towards the result:
The prosecution maintained that Fields had idled for 90 seconds, backed up, and then drove into the crowd.
It emphasized that, even after the incident, in a tape-recorded, December 7, 2017 telephone conversation with his mother in jail, Fields spoke of Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, as “a communist” and “the enemy.”
Almost immediately after the incident, Susan Bro announced that her daughter had died of a “heart attack,” rather than blunt force trauma, unwittingly casting into doubt that the 4’11,” 330-lb. Heyer had been deliberately murdered.
However, Heyer’s August 14, 2017, autopsy stated that Heyer had died of “blunt force injury to torso.” (Weeks later, a staffer at the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office would lie to me, in denying that an autopsy had been performed.) [Heather Heyer Autopsy (pdf), Commonwealth of Virginia, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner]
See Charlottesville Driver Wasn’t A White Supremacist, He Was Terrified – Report, DepartmentOfMemes.com, August 12, 2017
The heart of the defense case: Fields had been “frightened” when he drove into the crowd—and, based on the reports I read, little more. The defense simply stipulated to the prosecution’s facts. But it should have questioned or objected to every comma, period, and quotation mark.
(Many of Fields’ online defenders have cited the attack on him by racist, black, aluminum baseball-bat-wielding thugs, who destroyed his Dodge Challenger. Said defense is, however, seemingly specious, as they only attacked Fields after he had plowed into them. If he had attacked them, they were only engaged in self-defense—or vengeance. However, the video above also shows he was attacked before he accelerated).
(Granted, when UTR demonstrators defended themselves against violent assaults by the likes of Corey Long and DeAndre Harris, the whites were treated like felons, while the blacks were treated like victims. The photo of Long’s attempted mass murder was variously called “iconic” by Newsweek and “memorable” by The Grio.)
Corey Long committing attempted mass murder with a jury-rigged flamethrower. He was convicted only of disorderly conduct for the attack, and sentenced to 20 days in jail and 100 hours of community service.
But nothing in the interim, after Fields’ earlier posting of the photo of a car ramming the crowd—a trope of which e.g., Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds was also guilty—connected it to his actions. He demonstrably sought to avoid such a result on the day of the rally. The Communist and anarchist rioters refused to let him avoid violence.
Likewise, when Fields spoke of Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, as “a communist” and “the enemy,” such talk probably just reflected the facts. (Immediately after Heyer’s death, her social media history was scrubbed clean. All one can find about her on the Web are declarations of her saintliness—notwithstanding her support for the terrorist organization Black Lives Matter).
The defense team of Denise Lunsford and John Hill needed to hammer away at four issues.
A second escape route on Fields’ GPS was blocked with a police barricade.
And Fields’ last attempt resulted in his being repeatedly attacked by bludgeon-wielding Antifa thugs, just before he hit the gas. (The videos I have seen do not show Fields going into reverse or idling, and then hitting the gas, to run down Heyer.)
Dwayne Dixon testified that he only shouted at Fields with his AR-15 rifle on his shoulder (!), when the latter approached the area Dixon was blocking, and never pointed his rifle at Fields.
However, shortly after Charlottesville, Dixon bragged to all the world on social media, in statements that he has since scrubbed, that he had aimed his loaded, deadly weapon at Fields, and forced him to turn around.
It was essential that Lunsford and Hill impeach Dixon’s testimony, calling him a liar, who either lied in his declarations on social media, or had just perjured himself in open court.
Instead, they accepted Dixon’s testimony unchallenged.
Via Gregory Conte, idem.
The Heaphy report was commissioned by the City of Charlottesville. It comprehensively condemned Charlottesville Police Chief Al Thomas. It pointed out that, previously, on July 8, 2017, the city had been the site of a KKK rally, which had been marked by Chief Thomas’ incompetence.
He had not properly planned for the July 8 rally; had failed to set up communications between his men and the Virginia State Police (VSP); had failed to set up a unified command structure; had misinterpreted state law, such that media people were in the middle of the conflict in what should have been the buffer zone.
Chief Thomas’ men only averted complete disaster by disregarding his orders:
The Operational Plan Created Insufficient Space for Opposing Groups
The CPD Operational Plan failed to adequately ensure the separation of the Klan and counter-protesters during the Klan’s entry to and exit from the event. Thankfully, law enforcement disregarded the plan and modified their actions in several specific ways. These spontaneous decisions protected all attendees from potential violence. However, the fact that they were necessary illustrates a significant mistake in the planning and preparation for this event.
[Final Report: Independent Review of the 2017 Protest Events in Charlottesville, Virginia (pdf) by Timothy J. Heaphy, Hunton & Williams, November 24, 2017, 67.]
Basic procedure dictated that Chief Thomas detail an officer to research what went wrong on July 8, and make preparations to prevent a recurrence of such failures—even if another potentially disastrous demonstration had not been planned for 35 days later.
But instead Chief Thomas refused to assign anyone to do such research, claiming he didn’t have time.
Police Procedure 101 had long been, in situations of demonstrators and counter-demonstrators, to force the groups to demonstrate on opposite sides of a human barrier of policemen, and to immediately arrest anyone who crosses the line. (This was done successfully on May 26, 2007, in Knoxville, TN, and at many other times.)
Instead, Chief Thomas’ men funneled the UTR demonstrators right into the path of the violent Antifa thugs.
Even some Leftist counter-demonstrators were shocked by the conduct of Thomas’ men. Two different witnesses testified to Heaphy that they had heard Chief Thomas say that he wanted maximum violence to break out at UTR: “Let them fight, it will make it easier to declare an unlawful assembly.”
Despite this unlawful assembly declaration, Thomas then permitted armed Antifa goons to roam the streets all day, committing violent crimes.
Note that the Heaphy report is in agreement with VDARE.com’s own witness, Charlottesville Survivor regarding Chief Thomas’ failures.
Thanks to the Heaphy report, Chief Thomas resigned.
Segregationist Charlottesville Councilman and then Vice Mayor, Wes Bellamy
Chief Thomas was part of a black nationalist clique that white Leftists had helped to take over Charlottesville (65.5% non-Hispanic white, and only 18.7% black). It included then-City Manager Maurice Jones, who had hired Thomas; and Councilman and then Vice-Mayor Wes Bellamy.
I suspect Bellamy and another member of the bow-tie brigade—see pics—new City Manager Dr. Tarron Richardson, are members of the Nation of Islam. The NOI has massively expanded its power within non-NOI institutions in recent years. I’ve left messages; no response yet.
Charlottesville is run under a city manager system and there were conflicts between white Mayor Mike Signer, City Manager Jones, and Chief Thomas. Mayor Signer later claimed that on the day of the demonstration, he was actually locked out of the Command Center: “I asked the police chief what I could do to be helpful during that day as Mayor, he answered, ‘Stay out of my way’” [Mayor says Charlottesville police chief told him, ‘Stay out of my way’ by Neal Augenstein, WTOP, August 25, 2017 4:54 p.m.]
New Charlottesville City Manager Tarron Richardson. Note the bowtie, signature neckware of the murderous Nation of Islam.
When black career criminals are in the dock accused of heinous crimes, one routinely sees their defense counsel provide over-the-top defenses—the white female victim had “consensual sex” with her kidnapper-rapist-killer. The white female victim supposedly arranged for the defendant to carjack, kidnap, and rape her through an imaginary prostitute go-between. Etc.
But Alex Fields’ defense team of Denise Lunsford and John Hill were culpable, as far as I can see, of reversible ineffective assistance of counsel.
Instead of providing Fields with a vigorous defense, they just phoned it in.
Thus while it is supposedly unethical for prosecutors to play the media, it is practically a necessity for lawyers defending unpopular defendants to cooperate with any reporters who might give their client a fair shake. Between late February and May 30, I repeatedly called John Hill and Denise Lunsford. Hill never returned my messages. Twice (including on May 30), I reached Lunsford’s law partner, who told me Lunsford would not be giving interviews prior to the end of the case.
Hill and Lunsford are welcome to respond to me now.
Nicholas Stix [email him] is a New York City-based journalist and researcher, much of whose work focuses on the nexus of race, crime, and education. He spent much of the 1990s teaching college in New York and New Jersey. His work has appeared in Chronicles, The New York Post, Weekly Standard, Daily News, New York Newsday, American Renaissance, Academic Questions, Ideas on Liberty and many other publications. Stix was the project director and principal author of the NPI report, The State of White America-2007. He blogs at Nicholas Stix, Uncensored.