The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Federal Judge Throws Out Neo-Nazi Bill White’s Conviction

Posted in Neo-Nazi, Trial Updates by Heidi Beirich on April 20, 2011 - 4:11 pm

A federal judge ruled today that a jury was wrong when it convicted neo-Nazi Bill White for using his website to promote violence. CBS Chicago is reporting that U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman has ruled White was within his rights when he published information about a juror on his website in 2008.

In January, White was convicted of one count of solicitation for publishing the personal information of the jury foreman in the trial that convicted another neo-Nazi, Matthew Hale, of soliciting the murder of a federal judge. White, who once led the neo-Nazi group American National Socialist Workers Party, has been in prison nearly continuously since 2008. ( continue to full post… )

Columnist Describes Barrage of Threats from Nazi Leader

Posted in Neo-Nazi, Trial Updates by Sonia Scherr on December 11, 2009 - 7:56 pm

ROANOKE, VA. — Pulitzer-prize winning columnist Leonard Pitts told the jury this afternoon that his “blood ran cold” when he received an E-mail from white supremacist Bill White with his home address, telephone number and a reference to his wife.

When he clicked a link in the E-mail and saw that White had also published the information on the Internet, he realized it was now available to anyone who accessed White’s website, including potentially violent extremists who share White’s ideology. “It’s terrifying because it makes you vulnerable in a way you haven’t been before,” he said.

Pitts, who spoke with little emotion, spent nearly three hours on the stand during the second day of testimony at White’s federal trial. The former neo-Nazi leader is charged with threatening various people with whom he disagreed, including Pitts, a writer for The Miami Herald whose column is syndicated in some 250 newspapers. White was infuriated by a June 3 Pitts column taking white supremacists to task for their propaganda about a black-on-white murder case. ( continue to full post… )

Target of Neo-Nazi Threatmaker Bill White Tells of Fear

Posted in Neo-Nazi, Trial Updates by Sonia Scherr on December 10, 2009 - 6:56 pm

ROANOKE, Va. — A Citibank employee told jurors this afternoon that she couldn’t concentrate at work but was too frightened to go home after receiving an E-mail with her personal information from white supremacist Bill White.

“I was very scared, not only for myself but for my family,” said Jennifer Petsche, who works in Citibank’s Kansas City, Missouri, office.

Petsche testified on behalf of the government, which began presenting evidence today in White’s trial. White, who created and led the neo-Nazi American National Socialist Workers Party until his arrest, is charged with threatening various people with whom he disagreed. White’s defense maintains that his communications were protected speech under the First Amendment.

The E-mail Petsche received in March 2007 contained her home address, phone number and prior addresses, including that of her parents. “I understand you think you’re very tough and you think that by dragging this process out you have created me a lot of misery; that is an incorrect assessment, but I must admit I have run out of patience with you and your smug attitude,” White wrote. “I hope the fact that I’ve obviously paid someone to find you conveys the seriousness with which I take your current attitude.” ( continue to full post… )

Opening Arguments Held in Bill White Trial

Posted in Neo-Nazi, Trial Updates by Sonia Scherr on December 10, 2009 - 2:49 pm

ROANOKE, VA. — Did white supremacist Bill White threaten people with whom he disagreed? Or were his outrageous comments protected speech under the First Amendment?

The jury appeared to listen closely as lawyers for both sides presented opening arguments this morning in White’s trial, which began yesterday with jury selection. White, who led the neo-Nazi American National Socialist Workers Party until his arrest, is accused of making threats against various people with whom he disagreed.
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Potential Jurors Being Interviewed for the Bill White Trial

Posted in Neo-Nazi, Trial Updates by Sonia Scherr on December 9, 2009 - 3:05 pm

ROANOKE, VA. — After sitting through his own threat trial in Brooklyn, hate blogger Hal Turner may find himself back in a federal courtroom sooner than expected — this time as a witness in a similar case. Turner was on the list of dozens of potential witnesses that a government prosecutor read during the opening day of the trial for Bill White, another notorious white supremacist. White, who led a neo-Nazi group before his arrest, is charged with threatening various people with whom he disagreed.

The government’s witness list included several of White’s alleged victims, including nationally syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts, Canadian civil rights lawyer Richard Warman and University of Delaware professor Kathleen Kerr. The government prosecutor didn’t say why Turner might be called to testify; Turner’s case ended in a mistrial Monday when a jury couldn’t agree on whether he was guilty of threatening to assault and murder three federal judges. He’s scheduled for retrial in March. ( continue to full post… )

Turner Jury Reports Deadlock, But Sent Back to Reconsider

Posted in Trial Updates by Sonia Scherr on December 4, 2009 - 4:30 pm

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Jurors were told to continue working today after they said they were divided on whether hate blogger Hal Turner is guilty of threatening judges.

“We are hopelessly deadlocked,” the jury wrote in a note around 3:30 p.m. after deliberating for less than three hours. “Time will not change our vote.”

But U.S. District Judge Donald Walter urged jurors to keep trying to reach a verdict, and they returned to their deliberations.

This morning, the jury appeared to listen intently as both sides presented their closing statements. As they did throughout the trial, the defense portrayed Turner as an outrageous but harmless radio personality betrayed by the government he’d served when he was an FBI informant. “Giving your opinion is not a crime,” said Turner’s Chicago-based lawyer Nishay Sanan. “To criticize the judiciary is not a crime. To do it passionately is not a crime. To be a shock jock is not a crime.”

Prosecutors repeated their contention that Turner was trying to intimidate three federal judges when he told the white supremacist readers of his blog that the men “deserve to be killed” and posted their work addresses. “He thinks it’s a threat, he knows it’s a threat, and every reasonable person ought to also come to what I would suggest is a blindingly obvious conclusion,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney William Hogan.

The jury, which includes several racial minorities, began deliberating shortly after 12:30 p.m. today. They will decide whether Turner is guilty of threatening to assault and murder the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judges as a result of blog entries he posted on his website in June. If convicted, Turner would face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. ( continue to full post… )

A Confident Defense Rests Unexpectedly in Turner Threat Trial

Posted in Trial Updates by Sonia Scherr on December 3, 2009 - 4:49 pm

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — In a surprise move, both the defense and prosecution rested their cases early this afternoon at the trial of white supremacist Hal Turner, clearing the way for the case to go to a jury tomorrow.

After presenting evidence for less than a day and a half, the prosecution announced shortly after noon that it was finished. “We feel like we proved our case,” Assistant U.S. Attorney William Hogan said in a brief interview.

After a 30-minute recess, the defense followed suit without calling any witnesses. Closing arguments will take place tomorrow morning. Then jurors will decide whether Turner is guilty of threatening to assault and murder three federal judges in Chicago after he wrote on his blog in June that they “deserve to be killed” and posted their work locations.

Speaking with reporters afterward, defense lawyers said they didn’t bother presenting evidence because government prosecutors were unconvincing. “We feel they have not proven this case beyond any kind of doubt,” said Nishay Sanan of Chicago. “It is their burden [of proof], not ours — and they failed miserably in that burden.”

Michael Orozco, Turner’s New Jersey-based lawyer, added that the defense team didn’t want to give the prosecution a chance to confuse the jury or bring up irrelevant issues when cross-examining defense witnesses. Prosecutors were hampered when U.S. District Judge Donald Walter, who was flown in from Louisiana to try the case, refused to admit some evidence that they wanted to use, including blog posts, E-mails and other correspondence from Turner. ( continue to full post… )

Opening Arguments: Turner’s FBI Role to be Central

Posted in Trial Updates by Sonia Scherr on December 2, 2009 - 2:49 pm

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Domestic terrorist who encouraged fellow white supremacists to kill federal judges? Or shock jock who provided valuable information to the FBI?

Government prosecutors and defense lawyers offered strikingly different portraits of Hal Turner (for a short 2003 profile, go here), the New Jersey-based blogger and Internet talk show host, during opening statements this morning at his federal trial. Turner has been charged with threatening to assault and murder three federal judges in Chicago after he wrote on his blog that they “deserve to die” and posted their photographs and work addresses.

“This is not just political rhetoric. This is not protected by the First Amendment,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney William Hogan.

Although he faced the jury during his opening remarks, Hogan frequently turned to point a finger at Turner, who wore a tie and gray suit and sat quietly at the defense table next to his two attorneys. “He regards himself as judge, juror and executioner,” Hogan said. “He thinks he has his own personal constitution.”

But Michael Orozco, an attorney for Turner, contended that Turner’s statements were indeed protected speech. “This case is nothing short of a modern-day witch hunt,” Orozco said during his remarks, which were far briefer than Hogan’s. “Mr. Turner was nothing but a shock jock, nothing but a radio personality whose hand was guided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

Lawyers for both sides made clear that Turner’s history as a paid FBI informant would figure prominently in the trial. (His suspected role with the FBI was first reported on this blog in January 2008. The blog item noted sharp criticism of the use of Turner as an informant by experts in police procedure.) Orozco said Turner was so highly regarded as an FBI informant that the agency paid for him to travel outside the United States to gather intelligence. “This isn’t some street snitch, ladies and gentleman,” he said. “This is a guy who was entrusted with top secret information.” ( continue to full post… )

Hal Turner Trial Set to Begin Tomorrow

Posted in Neo-Nazi, Trial Updates by Sonia Scherr on November 30, 2009 - 5:13 pm

The federal trial for white supremacist Hal Turner is scheduled to begin tomorrow morning.

Turner, a neo-Nazi blogger and Internet radio host, is charged with threatening to assault and murder three federal judges in Chicago. Turner wrote on his blog that they “deserve to be killed” and posted their photographs, phone numbers, work address and room numbers. He was upset that the men — Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook and Judges Richard Posner and William Bauer — had upheld a federal handgun ban.

Turner’s defense will contend that Turner’s online statements were constitutionally protected speech. They’ve also announced their intention to delve into Turner’s history as a paid FBI informant to show that Turner had made similar threats previously — and authorities did not deem them criminal. The defense hopes to question New Jersey Gov.-elect Chris Christie about a letter declining to prosecute Turner that he may have issued as U.S. attorney.

If convicted, Turner faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. We will post updates as the trial unfolds in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn.

Trial Day 3 Update: SPLC Wins $2.5 Million Verdict for Teen in Klan Case

Posted in Klan, Lawsuits, Trial Updates by Sonia Scherr on November 15, 2008 - 1:08 am

BRANDENBURG, Ky. — In a blow to one of the nation’s largest Klan groups, jurors yesterday awarded more than $2.5 million to a teenager who was assaulted by Klansmen at a county fair in rural Kentucky.

The verdict is expected to shut down the Imperial Klans of America (IKA), which has 16 chapters in eight states. “We intend to collect every dime we can on the judgment and do everything within our power to put the Imperial Klans out of business,” said Southern Poverty Law Center President Richard Cohen at a press conference after the verdict announcement.

The SPLC sued IKA leader Ron Edwards of Dawson Springs, Ky., contending that members of his Klan group attacked a 16-year-old U.S. citizen of Panamanian descent because they thought he was an “illegal spic.” Also named as a defendant was Jarred Hensley of Cincinnati, who served nearly three years in state prison for assaulting the teenager at a county fair in northwest Kentucky.

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