Aryan Nation withdraws appeal

The Associated Press/October 5, 2000
By The Associated Press

The Aryan Nations has withdrawn its appeal of a $6.3 million judgment awarded to two people who were attacked by security guards for the neo-Nazi group, court officials said yesterday.

The sect apparently intends to concentrate on its motion for a new trial, which is still pending before 1st District Judge Charles Hosack.

Edgar Steele, the lawyer for Aryan Nations, did not return messages left at his law offices in Sandpoint yesterday. However, court officials confirmed that Steele withdrew the notice of appeal the day before.

Norm Gissel, an attorney for plaintiffs Virginia and Jason Keenan, would not speculate on why the judgment appeal had been withdrawn.

Aryan Nations leader Richard Butler had filed the handwritten notice of appeal shortly after the Sept. 7 jury judgment. The notice stated that the appeal to the Idaho Supreme Court would likely be based on "all issues."

Steele has said Butler acted on his own in filing the appeal notice.

Steele later filed a request for a new trial, contending, among other things that there was juror misconduct. During the trial, some jurors indicated they wanted to send a message to the Aryan Nations that it was not wanted in northern Idaho, the motion said.

Hosack has not said when he will rule on that request.

In late September, Butler reached a deal with attorneys for the Keenans to voluntarily give up his 20-acre northern Idaho property to satisfy the judgment. Butler will remain on the property until Oct. 25, or one week after Hosack rules on a new trial.

Steele, who represented Butler and co-defendant Michael Teague in the civil trial, said the deal would go through only if Hosack refused to grant a new trial.

A Kootenai County jury found Butler, Teague and the Aryan Nations grossly negligent in hiring and training security guards who shot at and assaulted the Keenans in July 1998.

The Southern Poverty Law Center represented the Keenans, who were awarded $330,000 in compensatory damages and $6 million in punitive damages.

Plans continue for a one-hour parade by the Aryan Nations through downtown Coeur d'Alene on Oct. 28.

People with similar white supremacist, anti-Semitic views are urging sympathizers to flock to Coeur d'Alene as a show of support for Butler.

"We are asking you to make one small sacrifice of time and a little money to show that you are a true comrade," wrote Vincent Bertollini, an "evangelist" for The 11th Hour Remnant Messenger.

That group has financed the production and mass mailing of pamphlets and videos of Butler.

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