Commonwealth’s Attorney files motion to continue Kessler prosecution

The case was initially thrown out after Robert Tracci failed to establish venue for alleged perjury

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Tracci’s motion, filed Monday, offers examples of federal and state cases where the prosecution failed to establish venue, but the judge opted to allow prosecution to continue.

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons | Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Less than two weeks after Albemarle County Circuit Court judge Cheryl Higgins dismissed the felony perjury case of Jason Kessler — a well-known white nationalist and organizer of the deadly Unite the Right rally last August — for a prosecutorial misstep, the elected Commonwealth’s Attorney Robert Tracci filed a motion to resurrect the suit.

During the initial trial March 20, Tracci failed to establish jurisdiction — that the crime had been committed in Albemarle County — for Kessler’s alleged perjury at the Albemarle County Magistrate’s office, ending the case before the jury could deliberate.

Tracci’s motion, filed Monday, offers federal and state cases where the prosecution failed to establish venue, but the judge opts to allow prosecution to continue.

Kessler claimed in January 2017 to an County Magistrate he was assaulted by Charlottesville resident James Taylor while petitioning for the recall of Charlottesville City Councilor Wes Bellamy on the Downtown Mall. Video footage captured by a local business revealed Kessler had, in reality, punched Taylor. Kessler then plead guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge in April 2017 and was sentenced to 30 days in prison — all of which were suspended — and to 50 hours of community service. 

Intentionally lying under oath is punishable under Virginia law as a Class 5 felony, carrying a potential sentence between one and 10 years. Kessler has been accused of signing a false criminal complaint at the Magistrate’s office, which falls under the perjury statute.

Under the Virginia Supreme Court’s rules, the Court has the ability to modify or cancel any judgements, orders or decrees for 21 days after their initial issuance — meaning Higgins would have until April 10 to revisit her previous ruling.

Kessler did not respond to a request for comment.

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