Maybe There’s Hope For Justice In Charlottesville: Judges Recuse Themselves From Dix Tiki Torch Case
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It was surprising enough that Antifa Judge Charles Worrell, chief of Virginia’s 16th Judicial Circuit, recused himself from presiding over any matters in the case of Jacob Dix. He is charged under Virginia’s anti-Klan burning-an-object law for protesting in the tiki torch march on August 11, 2017, the night before the Unite The Right Rally. That occurred before my post on the case that said Worrell must recuse, but this update brings even better news. The judge sitting on Dix’s case, Cheryl Higgins, also recused herself, pursuant to the motion filed by Dix’s attorney, Peter Frazier.

Worrell apparently agreed that his participation in “anti-fascist” activities the night of the march, as well as his wife’s and daughter’s tangible hatred of Unite the Right participants such as Dix, required him to recuse. He did so on October 6. Frazier had argued that all the judges must recuse themselves, but Worrell said he had no control over the other judges. Each would have to do so on his own.

See Motion to Recuse PDF.

On November 1, Higgins heard Frazier’s motion, as well as another to disqualify all the Albemarle County prosecutors.

Frazier planned to call Worrell’s wife Kathryn Laughon as a witness and argued that no judge in the circuit could sit on the case. Because he might treat the bitter anti-white Leftist as a hostile witness and she might refuse to testify, Frazier argued, a judge who did not hold her in contempt, hypothetically, would appear biased because she’s married to the boss.

Understandably, prosecutor Lawton Tufts wanted Higgins to block Laughon’s testimony. For one thing, people with whom he worked in 2017, Frazier told Higgins, attended the “anti-fascist” church meeting that Laughon, Worrell and their daughter attended the night of the tiki torch march.

But that not insignificant fact brings in Frazier’s second motion that all Charlottesville/Albemarle prosecutors, most notably Tufts, must be disqualified. Tufts was an anti-Unite the Right counter-protester.

[Tufts] personally helped lead, organize, and advocate for the counter-protestors who physically—and in certain cases, violently—resisted Defendant and his Co-Defendants during the events of August 11-12, 2017. A self-proclaimed “anti-racist activist,” he acted as a liaison between organized counter-protest groups and local law enforcement prior to that fateful weekend. He met with City of Charlottesville administrators to lobby for enactment of policies furthering the goals of counter-protestors. Tufts personally provided legal advice to Charlottesville’s Black Lives Matter chapter, one of the foremost counterprotest groups whose members are some of the alleged “victims” in this case. Tufts attended the counter-protests in Charlottesville on August 12, 2017, and then attended a candlelit counter-rally just days later on the same grounds as the torch demonstration at issue here. At the August 12 demonstration, Tufts “followed supremacists who had dispersed through town to monitor if they stirred up violence.” His later statements to investigators and journalists indicate a deep personal animus against Defendant and his Co-Defendants. Never in Virginia’s four-century history has a prosecutor participated in counter-protests against a lawful demonstration then subsequently prosecuted the demonstrators. Tufts’ participation in this case “so infects the prosecution with the possibility that private vengeance has been substituted for impartial application of the criminal law” that his continued involvement constitutes a clear violation of Defendant’s due process rights. Cantrell v. Commonwealth, 229 Va. 387, 394 (1985). 

Tufts’ conflict of interest is imputed to the entire staff of the Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney because Tufts, despite being aware of his conflict prior to the commencement of this case, did not exclude or screen himself from influencing the remaining attorneys in that office. His pervasive influence irreparably taints the participation of all other members of that office.

See Motion to Disqualify PDF.

Higgins recused herself and will request that another judge from outside the 16th district hear the case. Because of that, she did not rule on the motion to disqualify the prosecutors.

 But like Frazier’s original motion to recuse, the new judge must grant the motion to disqualify. A judge’s refusing to do so is almost too outrageous to contemplate.

As for Worrell, credit where it’s due for recusing himself.


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