Lawyers Karen Dunn of Paul, Wiess, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, Robert Kaplan of Kaplan, Hecker & Fink, and Alan Levine represented nine clients who were injured during a white supremacist rally in 2017. Not only did they do it for free, but they also won $26 million on behalf of those clients.
According to Karen Dunn, the four-week trial showcased “a bubble of hate and violence.”
Kaplan is Jewish. She decided to take the case after reviewing the facts — and seeing with her own eyes what the protestors were capable of thinking and doing. The conservative extremists carried torches and weapons while they marched. They chanted. Cameras caught them voicing slogans like “Jews will not replace us.”
During protests such as these, counter-protestors usually take the streets opposite to voice their opposition to the insidious supremacist ideas. One man, James Alex Fields Jr., drove his vehicle into these counter-protestors, killing one and injuring many others. The pro bono lawyers served only nine, but there were dozens injured by this man. Fields is behind bars for good, thanks to the work of state prosecutors.
Dunn acknowledged the obstacles facing such a case. She said, “External threats have been a constant from the very moment we filed this case…We had maybe six lawyers at the time. The idea that we would be able to do a case of that size was obviously insane. It immediately occurred to me that we needed help.”
She began her own firm, but looked to past colleagues for legal aid. She received it almost immediately. Their lawsuit was also supported and funded by the nonprofit Integrity First for America. Everyone assumed the case would go to trial — and it did.
They planned to argue that the defendants in the case, some of the protestors, were guilty of conspiracy to commit violence — and that the protestors’ right to free speech does not protect from the legal repercussions of committing such a crime. And the team won their case.