The Night the Lights Went Out in Charlottesville: Judicial Prejudice in a Southern Town

That’s the night that the lights went out in Georgia

That’s the night that they hung an innocent man

Well, don’t trust your soul to no backwoods Southern lawyer

‘Cause the judge in the town’s got bloodstains on his hands

One of the greatest country music songs of all time, “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” was about corruption and the conviction of an innocent man in a small Southern town.

The foreboding noir of that classic tune encapsulates the corrupt, small town injustice we see happening right now in Charlottesville, Virginia: to a spate of defendants who attended the August 11 torch procession during the Unite the Right weekend back in 2017.

Charged with Virginia Statute § 18.2-423.01B which forbids “burning an object on public property…with the intent of intimidating…” they are beset on all sides by members of the court who were among the “counter-protest” 6 years ago and now sit in judgment against them.

These charges are widely viewed by legal authorities across the political spectrum as a statutorily and constitutionally flawed attempt to prosecute nonviolent political assembly and speech. For more on that, read my last VDARE article.

Research, both independently confirmed or independently discovered, during this investigation will demonstrate how a local judge, Claude Vibart Worrell II, has failed in his legal obligation to inform the court and recuse himself in cases where he is reportedly a material witness.

Not only that but his wife and daughter, both obnoxious left-wing Antifa activists, were also material witnesses to the events in question.

Kathryn Laughon

Kathryn Laughon at a protest against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh

Laughon Twitter 1

Laughon is a self-described “antifascist”, commonly known as Antifa

Laughon Twitter 2

Kathryn Laughon, an assistant nursing professor employed by the University of Virginia, attended a so-called “antiracist” and “antifascist” sermon at St Pauls Church with her family near the site of the torch procession where the events in question occurred. In 2020, Laughon appeared on a podcast called The Pledge where described being “terrified” because she was “surrounded by nazis.” These same so-called “nazis” are the defendants in cases where her husband, Judge Worrell, is punitively denying bond even to defendants without a criminal record. (Read a transcript from The Pledge podcast)

Kathryn Laughon Tweet

Laughon talks about her past experience as part of an “antifascist” counter-protest riot on July 2017, in which Antifa and Black Lives Matter affiliated groups initiated violence against police for protecting a nonviolent KKK demonstration:

” Because when the KKK left, it was declared an unlawful assembly, we were declared, the anti-racist, antifascist protesters were declared an unlawful assembly.”

Laughon has also expressed what might be called “invidious discrimination” towards White people, in legal parlance.

Honestly, I do kind of hate white people,” Laughon wrote to Antifa blogger Molly Conger on July 25, 2022.

On that note, one of the persistent questions about these cases is how Conger (aka @socialistdogmom on X) seems to have so much insider foreknowledge about the cases. In fact, she created a new blog entitled “Burning Hate” where she broke news of the first “burning an object” arrest and has continued to share information that only an insider in the courtroom would know.

While it is likely given the corruption of the Charlottesville judiciary that there are multiple sources, one of the most plausible explanations may be the judge’s wife herself. I found YEARS of communications between the two antifascist activist online (see video below).

Laughon has publicly pronounced that she views Molly Conger’s content with Judge Worrel and shares with him her vitriolic hatred for the August 11 protesters.

Not only that but Laughon has liked tweets about the arrest of defendants Judge Worrell has denied bond to and liked a tweet from Conger celebrating the Antifa surveillance that led to the arrest of defendant William Fears.

She has also seemingly mocked the defendants’ difficulties in finding attorneys willing to represent them in the Charlottesville area by sarcastically asking if the reason “so many lawyers have noped out” is because “Elmer Woodward has flown to Miami.” Elmer Woodard is an out of town attorney who is only known in the Charlottesville area for representing Unite the Right defendants like myself, Chris Cantwell, Matt Parrott, Patrick Casey, Nathan Damigo, and Matt Heimbach.

Laughon Woodard tweets

Finally, Laughon has been a passionate public advocate of the controversial legal position of prosecuting the August 11 protesters under the “burning objects” statute.

In two tweets, one directed at Molly Conger, she reacts with furious vitriol to the decision of former Albemarle Commonwealth Attorney Robert Tracci not to prosecute protesters under the “burning objects” statute because of his determination that it would be a violation of their constitutional rights to free speech and assembly.

Laughon Prosecute 1

Laughon: Tracci is arguing about the ‘burning object’ legal issue but Nazis ASSAULTED PEOPLE on A11. They TERRORIZED people.” (Archive)

Laughon: “Why hasn’t he prosecuted the Nazis who terrorized us on A11?” (Archive)

Claude Worrell

Judge Claude Vibart Worrell II

Worrell himself is mentioned in the Charlottesville Independent Review (Read it here), examining the events of August 11 and 12 by former federal prosecutor Timothy Heaphy. That report describes Worrell’s attendance at St Paul’s near the torch demonstration, where he telephoned Charlottesville Police Lieutenant Mooney requesting police protection from the protesters.

It does not mention that the dramatic and hysterical account of “the church being surrounded by torch wielding neo-nazis” proffered by far left activists like his wife was a fevered fiction of a wild imagination. Footage from a documentary by left-wing media personality Katie Couric clearly shows the demonstration far and away in the distance.

Katie Couric 1

Katie Couric points to the UVA torch demonstration in the distance.

Katie COuric 2

The torch demonstration as seen from the steps of St Paul’s Church (which was allegedly “surrounded”)

Nevertheless, the fact that Worrell, Laughon and apparently his other family members witnessed the events of the case and were “terrified” enough by the defendants to phone police makes crystal clear that objectivity is out of the question. A hypothesis of revenge possibly motivating the judge in this case would seem to align with his overly punitive bond rulings thus far. (More on those later)

Embed: Cornel West: Antifa Came to Fight and Get Arrested in Charlottesville (

(Above) Cornel West’s violent August 11 sermon in Charlottesville

In that same podcast, Judge Worrel’s radical Black Lives Matter and Defund the Police supporting activist daughter, Althea Laughon-Worrell confirms that she was also in attendance as a material witness to the events of August 11.

Althea Laughon Worrell (Left) with controversial Black Lives Matter and fat acceptance advocate Zyahna Bryant (Right)

Althea Laughon-Worrell: “After it was over, we had to stay inside the church, and we had to leave quietly and in small groups. And it was terrifying. I present very white to the world. I’m mixed. I’m black and I’m white, and I’m also gay. And you may not know these things from looking at me. But it was still terrifying because my large black father was in that church with us. We had to run to our cars to try and stay away from these people because they were going to attack us.”

Althea Laughon-Worrel: “fuck the police, fuck donald trump, and fuck america”

This is particularly interesting because it depicts both Judge Worrell and his daughter as being so “terrified” that they had to “run to their cars.” Never mind that no one surrounded the church and these people are insane. How is a judge supposed to dispassionately set aside that he and his wife and daughter ran in fear of the defendants in the cases he is presiding over?

The Commonwealth of Virginia Canons of Judicial Ethics provides some relevant guidelines on this matter:

CANON 1A: “A judge must not allow family, social, political, economic, or other relationships to influence the judge’s judicial conduct or judgment.”

CANON 1D: “A judge must recuse himself or herself in a proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned, including but not limited to instances where:

(d) the judge is a material witness in the matter

(g) the judge, a member of the judge’s family, or a person within the third degree of relationship to either of them, or the spouse of such a person:

(iv) is to the judge’s knowledge likely to be a material witness in the proceeding.

Also, and this is critical, the Canon of Judicial Ethics stipulates that a judge is required to disclose “information the judge believes the parties or their lawyers might reasonably consider relevant to the question of disqualification, even if the judge believes there is no real basis for disqualification.”

The fact that men have been denied bond and convicted in August 11 cases where Judge Worrell neglected his legal obligations to disclose the aforementioned conflicts could leave him open to charges of misconduct and throw his prior rulings into dispute.

Additionally, Lawton Tufts, the prosecutor spearheading these political prosecutions from the Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorneys Office is also a left-wing counter protester with experience as a witness to the events of the Unite the Right weekend.

Lawton Tufts 1

Tufts (Right) is pictured with Soros-back Albemarle County Commonwealth Attorney Jim Hingely (Left)

Tufts is described in the Charlottesville Independent Review as an “anti-racist activist” and liaison for radical left and antifa groups BLM (Black Lives Matter) and SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice) as they coordinated with the Charlottesville Police Department for the Unite the Right weekend.

He was personally texting with CPD Lt Cheryl Sandridge during the events of August 12.

According to the Fall 2017 edition of UVA Lawyer magazine, Tufts was in attendance as a counter-protester on August 12 and “followed supremacists who had dispersed through town.”

Tufts describes the events surrounding the case he now prosecutes as “powerful in showing how many allies there are against hate.”

Tufts continued, “We need to harness the energy our community obviously has for fighting nazis and use it to fight the injustices of everyday life and push towards equity for all.” (Standing Up for Charlottesville, by Mary Wood, UVA Lawyer Magazine, Fall 2017)

Lawton Tufts 2

Tufts (Right) with a close companion

I have also been able to independently confirm that Lawton Tufts is friends with Judge Worrell’s radical wife Kathryn Laughon on Facebook, where she has, for example, “liked” a photo of Tufts with Albemarle Commonwealth Attorney Jim Hingely.

With this knowledge in mind, its particularly nauseating to read the courtroom exchanges between Tufts and Worrell before denying bond. Both offer “commentary” that betray their political ideologies and agendas. But its most disturbing that Worrell would offer himself up as judge in a case where he was a direct witness and might even claim to be a “victim” of the incident in question. Charlottesville “justice” is third worldism at its most grotesque and corrupt.

Lets start with Tufts presenting “evidence” to Worrell from the Atlanta Antifascist blog during a bond hearing for defendant Tyler Bradley Dykes.

Tufts described the blog as “a source the Commonwealth would not normally rely on”, which is strange considering that the blog post had only been published within 24hrs of the hearing. That is some coordination for a source Tufts “wouldn’t normally rely on”!

Worrell used the allegations in the Antifa blog, about Dykes flyering constitutionally protected so-called “white supremacist” political messages, to deny Dyke’s bond. Worrell agreed engaging in this nonviolent political speech activity made him a “danger to the community.”

In another instance, Judge Worrell denied bond to defendant William McAffe Williams, a August 11 protester with a completely clean criminal record. Keep in mind, as VDARE has previously reported, that the charge itself is on highly dubious legal grounds and should be thrown out on a constitutional rights basis alone.

But this draconian requirement for Williams to remain incarcerated pending trial proved decisive. Williams, a father of seven children under 10 years of age, with one born just after his April 1st arrest, was clearly in no position to leave his wife and children unsupported and accepted a plea deal.

Worrell should have taken these factors into consideration in the interests of justice, not running interference to help his anti-racist fellow travelers secure a conviction under duress.

According to the Daily Progress, “His lawyer told the court that being held without bail before trial was what forced William McAffe Williams of Nacona, Texas, to take a deal.”

“In my own personal opinion I would have taken this case to trial,” attorney Ryan Rakness told Albemarle County Circuit Court. “That my client was held without bond made that impossible.” (Third participant in racist 2017 torch march pleads guilty, by Hawes Spencer, Daily Progress, July 13, 2023)

Another torch demonstration defendant Jacob Dix, drove all night from Ohio to Charlottesville when he learned there was a warrant out for his arrest. Fortunately he stood before Judge Cheryl Higgins and not Worrell, because he was granted bond. (‘Face of White terror’ among latest indicted for 2017 torch march, by Hawes Spencer, Daily Progress, July 28, 2023)

That is not sufficient to ensure justice according to Dix’s attorney Peter Frazier of Charlottesville. He has boldly filed a Motion for Subpoena Duces Tecum seeking documents related to Albemarle Prosecutor Tuft’s communications concerning August 11 and 12, including with counter-protest groups, police and the Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office prior to his employment there.

Read Fraziers Motion for Subpoena Duces Tecum here

The purpose of this is to call for the recusal of Albemarle County prosecutors who may have knowingly engaged in prosecutorial misconduct and perhaps the dismissal of the charge itself.

As of September 25, 2023 Attorney Frazier has also filed a Motion to Recuse Judge Worrell using much of the same evidence presented in this article.

Read the Motion to Recuse Judge Worrell here

Of interest is that the motion reveals Frazier’s intention to call Judge Worrell’s radical Antifa wife Kathryn Laughon as a witness in hearing on the Motion to Recuse.