Sines v. Kessler

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Sines v. Kessler
Court Western District of Virginia
Citation 324 F. Supp. 3d 765 (W.D. Va. 2018)
Date decided November 23, 2021
Related Brandenburg v. Ohio


Alt-rights protesters organized a rally in Virginia to express their anger at the taking down of a Confederate statue.

Antifa counter-protesters show up on August 11th & 12th 2017 at the same site as the alt-right protesters in Virginia. The 2 sides clash.

This case was spearheaded by Roberta Kaplan. She used the KKK Act of 1871 to file a civil lawsuit against those responsible for the August 2017 Charlottesville car attack.

  • Jason Kessler = "Kessler" = defendant = organizer of the 2017 march to preserve Confederate statues
  • Sines = 9 plaintiffs including Sines = "Sines" = Ms. Sines recorded large segments of the protests and streamed them on FaceBook

Procedural History

During the cross-examination by Michael Bloch at the trial, 1 of the defendants, Richard Spencer, expressly denied being a "white supremacist." However, the plaintiffs legal team played audio recordings of Spencer expressing racist views; this included him saying, "we're going to destroy this town [Charlottesville, Virginia]."


Richard Spencer argued that the protesters were exercising their freedom of speech in accordance with the Brandenburg v. Ohio case.

Sines group argued that the Charlottsville protesters were engaging in violence--not simply expressing themselves peacefully in accordance with the 1st Amendment.


Based on the standard of preponderance of evidence for civil trials, the jury decided in favor of the plaintiffs. All defendants named in the suit were held liable for conspiracy under Virginia state law.

Jurors had differences of opinion with regards to the federal questions under the KKK Act of 1871.

(1) Richard Spencer, (2) Jason Kessler, & (3) Christopher Cantwell were each ordered to pay $500,000 in damages.

Each neo-Nazi & white supremacist organization was ordered to pay $1,000,000 in damages.

In total, the jury awarded $25,000,000 to the plaintiffs.


Affirmed. Appeals denied.


The judge reduced the damages to $2,350,000 because of rules governing the statutory limits for damages in Virginia.


The HBO Max documentary No Accident (2023) summarizes this legal case.


See also[edit | edit source]