Butler files appeal of $6.3 million judgment; sheriff says action delays seizure of Aryan property

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - Aryan Nations leader Richard Butler has apparently delayed the seizure of property from his white supremacist sect's compound by filing a notice of intent to appeal a $6.3 million judgment.

Butler walked into the Kootenai County Courthouse and filed the notice shortly before the close of business Wednesday. He said he was unable to contact his lawyer, Edgar Steele, who was out of town Wednesday.

''I did it on my own,'' Butler said.

A court order giving the sheriff authority to seize assets from the compound near Hayden Lake was signed Tuesday. Sheriff's officials then began making arrangements to have a moving company remove property.

''As I understand it, they now have 14 days to sort this out or we can resume the seizure actions,'' Sheriff Rocky Watson said.

Last Thursday a 1st District Court jury ruled that Butler, his organization and its corporate entity, Saphire Inc., were negligent in selecting and overseeing security guards who assaulted a mother and son, Victoria and Jason Keenan, outside the compound in 1998.

A copy of the appeal notice, which Watson sent to reporters, indicated Butler did not post an appeal bond that would shield Aryan Nations property from seizure pending the outcome of the appeal.

To obtain such protection under Idaho law, Butler would need to post $900,000, 10 percent of the estimated $9 million appeal bond.

On the appeal notice, he claimed an exemption from paying various filing fees due to indigence.

A handwritten portion of the notice stated that the appeal to the Idaho Supreme Court is likely to be based on ''all issues.''

A lawyer for the plaintiffs, Kenneth B. Howard, said he expected to prevail in any appeal.

''I really don't see any areas for appeal in this case,'' he said.

Morris Dees, the civil rights lawyer who led the plaintiffs' legal team, has said he expected the judgment to bring a quick end to the Aryan Nations and its racist, anti-Semitic message. He was not immediately reachable by phone late Wednesday.

Steele and Butler had said they likely would file a motion seeking a new trial next week. If Judge Charles Hosack denied the motion, his denial could be appealed.

It was not immediately clear whether Butler still planned to move for a new trial. Howard said an appeal normally transfers the case to a higher court, which could preclude Hosack from deciding any further legal issues.

A private security guard was posted outside the compound entrance Wednesday to ensure Aryan Nations members did not remove property. Because of the appeal notice, the guard will be removed temporarily, Watson said.

Butler has been ordered to appear at a hearing Oct. 13 to testify about his assets.

Meanwhiled, KREM-TV of Spokane, Wash., reported Wednesday that police had tentatively approved an Aryan Nations application for a permit to march through downtown Coeur d'Alene on Oct. 28.

The city clerk was expected to review the application later this week.

If a permit is granted, it would be the third time in three years the group has marched through this north Idaho lakeside resort community.


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