The man who used his neo-Nazi website as a platform to launch a “troll storm” of anti-Semitic threats against a Whitefish woman and her family has lost his legal representation after skipping a deposition hearing on April 30.
Attorneys for the Daily Stormer publisher Andrew Anglin cited an “irreconcilable conflict” with their client following his refusal to comply with court orders in a lawsuit filed in April 2017 by Tanya Gersh, a Whitefish real estate agent who became the target of violent threats and harassment after Anglin urged his readers to retaliate against her.
Facing the lawsuit, Anglin procured legal representation from a high-profile First Amendment attorney, but has not appeared for any scheduled court hearings and has refused to disclose his whereabouts, saying only that he is living “abroad” and that personal safety concerns inhibits his travel.
The final straw came April 30 when Anglin failed to appear at a scheduled deposition hearing in New York City, prompting U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah Lynch of Missoula to enter a default judgment and his attorneys to file a motion to withdraw.
“The attorney-client relationship has broken down between Attorneys and Defendant and has created an irreconcilable conflict between the Attorneys and Anglin,” according to attorney Marc Randazza’s brief in support of the motion. “Due to this breakdown in the attorney-client relationship, further representation of Anglin is impossible.”
Gersh sued Anglin in April 2017 after her family received hundreds of harassing messages from Anglin’s followers at his urging. She says Anglin invaded her privacy, caused her emotional distress and violated a Montana anti-intimidation law.
“Another step closer to justice for Tanya Gersh in her brave battle against the Nazi internet trolls,” Gersh’s attorney, John Morrison, posted on Facebook. “Like most bigots, Andrew Anglin is a coward, and so no one was surprised when he left us sitting before an empty chair at his scheduled deposition today in New York City. The Honorable Jeremiah Lynch entered Anglin’s default and Anglin’s attorneys withdrew. The wheels of justice turn slowly but they do turn.”
The federal lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages on the Gersh family’s behalf, due in part to the intentional infliction of emotional distress caused by Anglin.
The string of posts and messages professed to be retaliatory, accusing Gersh, who is Jewish, as well as other members of the local Jewish community of engaging in an “extortion racket” against Sherry Spencer, the mother of white nationalist Richard Spencer and owner of a mixed-use office building in Whitefish, though Gersh rejects that narrative.
The lawsuit contends that Anglin coordinated the campaign of harassment by posting contact information for Gersh, her husband and the couple’s 12-year-old son, calling on his readers to drum up an “old fashioned Troll storm.”
However, Anglin has proven elusive from the beginning, even as his attorneys argued that his calls for action against Gersh constituted legally protected political speech under the First Amendment.
The efforts to locate Anglin first began April 18, 2017, when the Southern Poverty Law Center and its Montana co-counsel, Morrison, filed suit in federal court and attempted to serve him.
But despite repeated efforts to contact Anglin and Randazza, his lead counsel and a notorious Las Vegas First Amendment lawyer, Anglin remained off the radar, and only after attorneys for the Gersh family ran a legal notice for six weeks in a newspaper in Worthington, Ohio, where Anglin is last known to have resided, was service of the lawsuit certified.
All the while, Anglin authored posts about the case to his website while Randazza was quoted about it in national news outlets, despite not returning phone calls and emails from the plaintiffs’ attorneys.
“It is odd. I have never seen a situation before where defense counsel appears in the media but refuses to accept service or make a client available for service of process in a civil case,” Morrison, an attorney from Helena, told the Beacon “This is a first in that respect.”