This week, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a judgment against self-proclaimed American Nazi leader Bill White for Fair Housing Act (FHA) and Virginia law violations, intentional infliction of emotional distress damages, and attorney's fees. The Fourth Circuit, in an unpublished opinion, found no reversible error in the case.
This is not the first civil dispute based on an FHA complaint in which the Fourth Circuit has ruled against White.
In May 2007, White mailed letters to African-American tenants, who were involved in an FHA dispute with their landlord, at their Virginia Beach homes. White used White National Socialist American Working Party letterhead, and the letters included a Nazi swastika and White's signature and title.
The letters, which were filled with racial epithets, warned the tenants, "I wanted you to know that your actions have not been missed by the white community ... and we know that you are and will never be anything other than a dirty parasite - and that our patience with you and the government that coddles you runs thin." White also threatened the tenants' lawyer on the Internet.
White was not the landlord involved in the dispute, and he seemingly did not have a connection to the case. His letter, however, resulted in years of litigation with the tenants.
The tenants responded to the letter by filing a motion for sanctions against White, based on his bad-faith behavior, and subpoenaing White to determine if he had a connection with the landlord.
After a magistrate judge dismissed the motion, the tenants appealed all the way to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Last December, the appellate court ruled that the district court had incorrectly applied clear error review to the magistrate judge's ruling, and remanded the matter for de novo review.
In a separate appellate matter, the parties argued whether White's letter was protected speech under the First Amendment. In addition to civil sanctions, White was sentenced in April 2010 for using intimidation to delay or prevent testimony in the housing discrimination case.
If you, or one of your clients in an FHA dispute, are being harassed by a third party during litigation, civil and criminal sanctions are available.
- Unnamed Citizen v. William White (Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals)
- Santa Cruz Nazi Salute Case Headed to Trial (FindLaw's Decided)
- Circuit Dismisses ASWAN Conspiracy Claim over Conrad Center (FindLaw's Fourth Circuit Blog)
- FHA Discrimination Case Withdrawn Before Date with SCOTUS (FindLaw's Supreme Court Blog)