http://www.spokane.net/news-story-body.asp?Date=082800&ID=s844043&cat= August 28, 2000 Aryan-busting trial starts today High security and higher stakes Bill Morlin - Staff writer Coeur d'Alene _ The showdown trial begins today in Coeur d'Alene. Famed civil rights attorney Morris Dees takes on Richard Butler and his Aryan Nations. Dees and Coeur d'Alene attorneys Norm Gissel and Ken Howard represent a mother and her son whose car was hit by five bullets from Aryan guards in 1998. Attorneys for Victoria and Jason Keenan say their case against the Aryan Nations is "just a civil trial" to compensate the shooting victims. But it promises to be a lot more than that. With extraordinary security and media attention, the case is becoming the region's version of the O.J. Simpson trial. A sampling: =95The street outside the Kootenai County Courthouse will be closed to traffic as a security measure for the expected two-week duration of the trial. Parking in the area will be restricted. =95Special video cameras are being installed outside the courthouse. =95An army of police and sheriff's deputies will patrol the courthouse grounds and downtown Coeur d'Alene. =95Reporters and photographers covering the civil trial have been required t= o display special photo-identification badges. =95Dees and the other plaintiffs attorneys and witnesses are being guarded around-the-clock by a sizable security team from the Southern Poverty Law Center. "It's something like I've never seen," one of the plaintiffs' attorneys said Friday. The trial is made-for-television courtroom drama that won't be on TV. First District Court Judge Charles Hosack has banned cameras from the courtroom, and the county commissioners have banned them from the= courthouse. Jury selection is expected to take most of the first day in court. The names of 72 potential jurors -- all residents of Kootenai County -- were released to attorneys on Thursday. The list includes brief biographical information, but the attorneys will get more detailed information with individual questioning during the selection of 12 jurors and two alternates. A nationally recognized jury-profiling expert is reportedly helping the plaintiffs' attorneys and investigators analyze the list of prospective jurors. While jury selection grinds on, the real excitement may be outside the courthouse. There, neo-Nazi skinheads and Aryan Nations members are expected to gather to support Butler and the Aryan Nations. Anti-Aryan activists, including Jewish Defense League leader Irv Rubin, also are expected to be in town. More police officers than reporters greeted Rubin at a Sunday press conference at Spokane International Airport, where he pledged his "absolute best behavior." Although Rubin plans no protests, he said he wants thousands of area residents to attend the trial to show, for once, Coeur d'Alene doesn't tolerate hate. He fears a small turnout, acknowledging many local Jews asked him to stay in Los Angeles for fear his presence will spark= retaliation. Rubin criticized city leaders and businesses, specifically Mayor Steve Judy and Kootenai County Commissioner Ron Rankin, for allowing the Aryan Nations to thrive. "The establishment in the Coeur d'Alene area has been absent," Rubin said to three reporters, four police officers and a sheriff's deputy. "They want to ignore it because of the First Amendment. Well, we have a First Amendment too. We have to get out on the streets and protest." Rubin reiterated any protest today would be in the form of numbers, not confrontation. National hate leaders also are watching the showdown. "Another civil lynching trial is starting on Monday," Tom Metzger, leader of the White Aryan Resistance (WAR), said Friday in Internet postings. Metzger and WAR were successfully sued by Dees in 1990 in Portland. Dees and his Southern Poverty Law Center represented a black man who was murdered by skinheads associated with Metzger and WAR. A Portland jury awarded Dees and the victim's son $9 million, a judgment that is still being collected from contributions that are sent to WAR. Metzger told his followers and other racists, "I don't believe there is a chance in hell that Aryan Nations will win this case." "I know what Northwest juries are like and the Aryan Nations case is worse than mine was," Metzger said. But the WAR leader, who lives in Fallbrook, Calif., urged his fellow racists to "show solidarity of the spirit" and rally behind Butler. "Richard Butler is 82 years old and his race is nearly run," Metzger said. "We should all let him know that no matter how this witch hunt ends up, he is respected by the struggle" for white supremacy. The plaintiffs have 29 people on their witness list, including an expert in security training and procedures. Defense attorney Edgar Steele told the court he plans to call only seven witnesses, including Butler and Aryan guards Jesse Warfield and John Yeager, who are both in prison. Steele said the defense doesn't have the funds to hire an expert, and can't find one who's willing to testify for Butler and the Aryan Nations. "I think they're making a big deal out of something that's no more than just a typical civil trial," Warfield said Friday after being transferred from the state prison to the Kootenai County Jail. "It's Morris Dees that's making this trial a media hoopla," Warfield said. He said sheriff's deputies told him he would have to wear a bulletproof vest in the courtroom and while he's being transported. "I will not do that," Warfield said. "That's promoting an assassination. I put my life in God's hands."
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