As plaintiffs in a rally lawsuit again ask for sanctions against a white supremacist defendant, attorneys for James Alex Fields Jr. argue they cannot disclose privileged communications.
Elliott Kline has come under scrutiny in recent months for failing to turn over documents requested by the plaintiffs. Fields and his court-appointed attorneys, Denise Lunsford and John Hill, have argued that a broad range of documents requested from them are privileged communications. Lunsford and Hill represented Fields in his state murder trial stemming from the car attack that killed Heather Heyer. In December 2018, he was found guilty of first-degree murder, among other charges, in a car attack on the day of the Unite the Right rally and sentenced to more than 200 years in prison.
Both Kline and Fields are among the more than a dozen defendants who organized or attended the Aug. 12, 2017, Unite the Right rally who are named in a lawsuit, Sines v. Kessler, filed on behalf of a number of Charlottesville-area residents.
Kline, one of the organizers of the rally, has been the focal point of the lawsuit lately as plaintiffs have sought punitive sanctions against him. In January, he was arrested after being found in contempt of court for failing to meet discovery requirements.
According to plaintiffs, Kline has repeatedly lied and failed to turn over information they have requested.
Through discovery, counsel for the plaintiffs learned of a new phone number with a (347) area code attached to Kline’s name that had not previously been disclosed.
During a December hearing, Kline repeatedly claimed the number was not his and that he did not know whose it was. He reiterated the claims during a January telephonic hearing.
However, according to a recent filing, counsel for the plaintiffs issued a subpoena to Google, which produced documents revealing the (347) number was registered to Eli Mosley, an alias used by Kline.
“There is no doubt that the (347) number was registered to Kline and that Kline lied to the court repeatedly under oath about it,” the filing reads.
Additionally, counsel claims the information produced by Google also connects Kline to another previously undisclosed phone number, beginning with the area code (484). According to the plaintiffs’ motion, the information seems to indicate that Kline forwarded incoming text messages and phone calls from the (347) number to a (484) number during various periods from October to December 2017.
Such documents indicate that Kline lied under oath, withheld evidence and may have destroyed evidence, the plaintiffs claim, and reinforce their existing requests for sanctions, the first of which was filed in April 2019.
Kline already has been fined more than $6,000 after previously being found in contempt.
Through discovery, counsel for the plaintiffs also have requested a broad range of documents from attorneys Lunsford and Hill.
According to the subpoenas, the plaintiffs have requested all of the lawyers’ documents related to the Unite the Right rally and communications on file between various white supremacist and neo-Nazi organizations.
In responding motions, the court-appointed attorneys argue that the subpoenas request confidential information they are prohibited from sharing.
“Taken as a whole, the subpoena requires that [Lunsford and Hill] produce the entire contents of his file relating to representation of Fields in the Criminal Matters with no exception,” the filings read. “Among other things, [Lunsford and Hill]’s files contain notes, memoranda and other documents memorializing confidential discussions and communications with Fields, documents related to trial strategy, and other documents [Lunsford and Hill] are prohibited from sharing.”
The plaintiffs have not established a substantial need for the materials and have not established that they cannot find the documents from alternative sources, Fields’ counsel argues.
Fields is currently being represented by Lunsford in an appeal of his state trial.
Last week, the plaintiffs also requested direct access to documents from defendants Vanguard America and Jason Kessler. Both of those defendants took months to turn over devices and email addresses to a third-party vendor, which the plaintiffs’ counsel argues has caused them to forfeit any right to review whatever documents the vendor collects prior to passing them along to the plaintiffs.
A judge has not yet ruled on these motions to compel.
There has been no movement in Fields’ appeal since it was filed in December.