Racist “alt-right” podcaster Michael “Enoch” Peinovich has complained frequently about not being able to find legal representation in a federal lawsuit stemming from Unite the Right.
What Peinovich didn’t say is he’s been working with a lawyer whose name he won’t reveal.
Motions and transcripts in the lawsuit, brought by business owners against people and groups who took part in the rally in August 2017, show that Peinovich has been “consulting” with a lawyer on his filings, but passing those motions off as his own work.
“I don’t know whether the person that is ghostwriting his briefs is full-time or not, but he has got a lawyer,” plaintiff’s attorney Roberta Kaplan told U.S. District Judge Norman K. Moon in a hearing on June 5. “And, that lawyer has obligations.”
Peinovich and alt-right front-man Richard Spencer spent weeks in the spring complaining about their inability to find attorneys to represent them and filing motions that they represented as drawn up by themselves.
Peinovich, the last defendant in the case without a listed attorney representing him, defended not naming his counsel.
Naming the attorney would open that person to harassment, Peinovich said. So, the lawyer in question asked to remain anonymous and not have to file an appearance in court.
“That’s specifically his problem,” Peinovich said. “He’s afraid he’ll be harassed again.”
There are a handful of attorneys who have represented alt-right figures across the country. But, thus far, other than Elmer Woodard of Virginia and James Kolenich of Cincinnati, they haven’t made public appearances in the litigation.
Alt-right lawyer Kyle Bristow, who represented Spencer in several lawsuits against universities, publicly announced he was leaving politics and the alt-right but has recently resurfaced as the attorney for white supremacist congressional candidate Paul Nehlen in a separate lawsuit.
Bristow has declined to comment when asked if he was consulting with either Spencer or Peinovich in the lawsuit.
Some defendants, such as Daily Stormer blogger Andrew Anglin, Austin Gillespie, who goes by Augustus Sol Invictus, and the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, have chosen not to respond to the lawsuit and face default judgments in the future.
A trial is set for July 8 through August 2, 2019 in the case brought a group of 13 people hurt or attacked during the rally. They seek compensation and punitive damages and ask the courts to intervene with legal orders preventing a repeat of the deadly events that occurred in Charlottesville on August 11 and 12, and barring use of private militias at such events.
Peinovich, for now, insists that there’s no reason to identify the lawyer and that there are legal opinions backing up the stance.
“And, I’m going to stick to it, unless there’s a court order,” Peinovich said.
Kaplan, though, would like to know who she is up against and who is seeing the sensitive material — such as addresses and contact information for plaintiffs and witnesses — before things go much further.
“It just – you can’t – I’m not aware of any rule that would permit someone to serve as a ghostwriting lawyer in this case,” Kaplan said.
Editor's note: This story has been updated for clarity.
Photo credit Joe Raedle/Getty Images