The Trial Lawyer Summer 2018 - Page 44

LEGALBRIEFS Alt-Right Lawyer Says It’s His Duty To Protect White Race A Cincinnati lawyer claims it is his duty to represent a group of white supremacists because he believes, “white people are the chosen people.” The white supremacists were having trouble finding someone to represent them in their case related to the violent clashes in Charlottesville, until this lawyer decided to step in and fight for them. His name is James E. Kolenich and he is representing the organizers of an alt-right rally of white supremacists and Neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia. They are being sued by a law school student from the University of Virginia who says she suffered severe emotional distress after seeing violence at what had been a peaceful protest for her in Charlottesville. Kolenich told the Cincinnati Enquirer he got involved with this case because “white people must save and preserve their civilization.” He made these statements because this is what he believes, that white people are chosen by God to spread Christianity. He explains that doesn’t mean hating other races, but it means opposing any “un-Christian influence in society,” including Jewish influence. In Kolenich’s home state of Ohio, an ethics rule bars lawyers from discriminatory behavior that is 42 x The Trial Lawyer By Mollye Barrows and KJ McElrath “prohibited by law,” like discrimination based on race, religion, etc., but only as it relates to professional behavior. No formal complaint against Kolenich has been confirmed with Ohio lawyer disciplinary authorities. According to the American Bar Association, there are several rules that govern conduct, including that it is an ethics violation to engage in conduct related to practicing law that a lawyer should know is harassment or discrimination. This is more complicated than simply representing someone whose position you don’t endorse. In this case, Kolenich admits he supports his clients’ position as white supremacists, which may be hateful and disgusting, but not necessarily unethical. One law professor at the University of Cincinnati plans to present this situation to her law students and get their take on it, to see if they believe Kolenich’s support of his client’s extremist views are unethical. Another attorney who is general counsel of the ACLU of Ohio agrees that the attorney’s comments are repulsive, but argues that from the ACLU’s viewpoint, it’s concerning to see anyone punished or regulated for merely articulating beliefs without taking any action. Interesting point about this civil lawsuit, it’s being funded on behalf of the plaintiffs by Integrity First for America, a group recently formed to pay for civil rights and abuse of power litigation. Sex Cult Leader Behind Bars, Members Still Seeking New Recruits A notorious sex cult was found trying to covertly recruit new members within the Brooklyn arts and hipster crowd. Authorities believed the cult was steadily imploding after its founder was arrested in Mexico for sex trafficking. But these new reports have many among law enforcement alarmed. This organization is called NXIVM, pronounced “Nexium.” It’s a marketing organization that offers offers and sells personal and professional development seminars. It was founded in Albany, New York about 20 years ago by New York native and charismatic leader, 57-year-old Keith Raniere. NXIVM involves a variety of companies that promote everything from physical fitness and media ethics to child development and women empowerment. However, former and current members of Nexium have been speaking out about the organization in a series of investigative reports by the New York Times and 20/20, and they call it a cult, where women are allegedly branded, blackmailed, and brainwashed. Accusations include Raniere forcing women to have his initials and the company’s symbol branded on their flesh. Raniere was arrested on charges of sex trafficking and forced labor in March, in Mexico, where NXIVM has another branch location. At least 80 women are said to be trapped in the women-only group, led by Raniere, who called himself “master