Judge denies new trial for Aryan Nations

Associated Press

COEUR d’ALENE, Idaho — A judge has denied a new trial for the Aryan Nations, clearing the way for the winners of a $6.3 million judgment to take control of the neo-Nazi group’s rural compound.

First District Judge Charles Hosack also declined today to reduce the size of the judgment, and rejected the defendants’ contention that their right to hate was protected by law.

The defendants were liable for the actions caused by their hate, Hosack wrote.

"Arguing that, because hate is a belief, the person professing hate should therefore be relieved from any responsibility … is a relatively novel defense," the judge said.

Aryan Nations leader Richard Butler, the group and some of its members were found negligent by a Coeur d’Alene jury on Sept. 7. The lawsuit was brought by Victoria and Jason Keenan, a mother and son who were chased and shot at by Aryan Nations security guards near the group’s compound in 1998.

The plaintiffs were represented by Morris Dees of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which specializes in lawsuits that put hate groups out of business.

Butler’s motion alleged there was juror misconduct, with some jurors allegedly saying they wanted to send a message to the Aryan Nations that it was not wanted in northern Idaho.

In his 22-page opinion, Hosack found no evidence of juror misconduct, and declined to set aside the verdict.

Butler, 82, had already agreed to peacefully turn over his 20-acre compound near Hayden Lake within a week if his motion for a new trial failed.

Last week he moved into a home purchased by a supporter in Hayden, Idaho, about 15 miles south of the compound. The house can’t be put in Butler’s name because it would be subject to seizure by the Keenans.

Butler is vowing to continue pushing his white supremacist, anti-Semitic philosophy. On Saturday, Butler and an unknown number of supporters will march down the main street of Coeur d’Alene.

The Keenans have not said what they will do with the compound.

Hosack’s opinion said the jury was right to find the Aryan Nations negligent in the hiring and oversight of the security guards.

Hosack also rejected Butler’s claim that the jury ignored his testimony that he espoused non-violence.

"It is certainly relevant to permit inquiry of Butler as to how he could claim to be an advocate of non-violence and at the same time publicly state that he agreed with published statements by Hitler which, in so many words, advocate killing Jews," Hosack wrote.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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