Neo-Nazi website founder's lawyers are backing out of case
A neo-Nazi website operator's attorneys intend to withdraw from representing him in a lawsuit over an anti-Semitic "troll storm" that terrorized a Montana real estate agent's family.
One of those lawyers, Marc Randazza, told The Associated Press on Friday that his decision stems from his client's refusal to comply with a court order requiring him to be present in the U.S. for a deposition.
The Daily Stormer founder Andrew Anglin says he lives abroad and claims it's too dangerous for him to travel to the U.S. However, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah Lynch ruled that Anglin's personal safety concerns are "factually unsupported" and no basis for a protective order sparing him from an in-person deposition in the U.S.
In an order Monday, Lynch warned Anglin that he faces a default judgment against him if he fails to appear for an April 30 deposition by Tanya Gersh's attorneys from the Southern Poverty Law Center.
In the lawsuit she filed in Montana against Anglin in April 2017, Gersh says anonymous internet trolls bombarded her family with hateful and threatening messages after Anglin published their personal information, including her 12-year-old son's Twitter handle and photo.
In a string of posts, Anglin had accused Gersh and other Jewish residents of Whitefish, Montana, of engaging in an "extortion racket" against the mother of white nationalist Richard Spencer. Gersh says she had agreed to help Spencer's mother sell commercial property she owns in Whitefish amid talk of a protest outside the building. Sherry Spencer, however, later accused Gersh of threatening and harassing her into agreeing to sell the property.
Gersh's suit accuses Anglin of invading her privacy, intentionally inflicting "emotional distress" and violating a Montana anti-intimidation law.
Judge Lynch set a May 13 deadline for Anglin's lawyers to formally ask to withdraw. By the same date, Anglin must either notify the court that he will represent himself or will have new lawyers.
Randazza said he and two other attorneys will "vigorously" represent Anglin while they still are enrolled as his lawyers.
"But there's not much I can do in this situation but withdraw," Randazza said. "When you have a client who has made it clear he's going to defy a court order, you have a narrow matrix of decisions you can make."
Anglin, an Ohio native, said in an April 9 email that he is unwilling to be deposed in the U.S. despite the judge's decision. He suggested that the Alabama-based law center refuses to meet him abroad or question him remotely by telephone or video conference because it wants him to be harmed.
"Anyone can look at the history of this group and reach the same very obvious conclusion," he wrote.
Gersh's lawyers say Anglin hasn't presented any proof that he currently lives outside the U.S.
Anglin's website takes its name from Der Stürmer, a newspaper that published Nazi propaganda in Nazi-era Germany, and includes sections called "Jewish Problem" and "Race War."
Anglin already faces a default judgment in a separate lawsuit, filed by a Muslim-American radio host. In February, attorneys for SiriusXM Radio show host Dean Obeidallah asked a federal court in Ohio to award him more than $1 million in damages for his claims that Anglin falsely accused him of terrorism.