Charlottesville’s Favorable Settlement in Case Arising From “Unite the Right” Rally


Paul, Weiss represented the City of Charlottesville and a coalition of local business owners and neighborhood associations in the favorable resolution of a lawsuit brought against groups and individuals who participated in the violent “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville in August 2017.

The city and the coalition alleged that the rally participants’ organized and coordinated use of force was prohibited by the Virginia Constitution, violated Virginia laws against paramilitary activity and the false assumption of police authority, and constituted a public nuisance. Plaintiffs sought forward-looking injunctive relief barring the defendants from returning to Charlottesville as part of a unit of two or more persons acting in concert while armed with a firearm, weapon, shield, or any item designed to inflict bodily harm, at any demonstration, rally, protest or march—including an “anniversary” rally planned in Charlottesville for August 2018.

The Charlottesville Circuit Court rejected defendants’ motion to dismiss and ordered the case to proceed to trial, which was set to begin July 30. Following the court’s ruling, the two remaining defendants agreed to enter into consent decrees providing the plaintiffs with the full measure of injunctive relief sought by our clients. In doing so, the remaining defendants joined 17 others—including alt-right white nationalist groups such as League of the South and National Socialist Movement, as well as armed “militia” groups—that had previously agreed to be bound by consent decrees barring them from returning to Charlottesville to engage in the kind of coordinated violence and intimidating displays of force that marked last August’s event.

Paul, Weiss was joined on the matter by co-counsel from Georgetown Law’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection, and local counsel from the Charlottesville law firm MichieHamlett. The Paul, Weiss team, led by litigation associates Jessica Morton and Paul Brachman, and supervised by litigation partner Mark Mendelsohn (Picture) and litigation counsel Justin Anderson, included associates Zach Dietert, David Giller, Samantha Weinberg, Max Nacheman, Katie Stewart and Joey Samuels.

Involved fees earner: Jessica Morton – Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison; Paul Brachman – Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison; Mark Mendelsohn – Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison; Justin Anderson – Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison; Zachary Dietert – Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison; David Giller – Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison; Samantha Weinberg – Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison; Maxwell David Nacheman – Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison; Katherine Stewart – Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison; Joseph Samuels – Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison;

Law Firms: Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison;

Clients: City of Charlottesville;

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Author: Ambrogio Visconti