Virginia lawyer Charles “Buddy” Weber Jr. will defend the man accused of plowing his car into demonstrators protesting a white supremacist rally, killing a woman in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend.
Judge Robert Downer Jr., of the 16th Judicial District in Virginia, appointed Weber to defend James Alex Fields Jr. Monday, during his first court appearance. According to Weber’s website, he is a solo practitioner based in Charlottesville, where he’s kept an office for nearly 20 years. The public defender’s office declined to represent Fields because a relative of an employee was involved in Saturday’s crash.
Weber is the treasurer of the Charlottesville Republican Committee, and ran unsuccessfully for City Council there in 2013.
Following a 27-year career in the Navy, which included combat missions over Vietnam as a pilot, Weber retired from active duty in 1995 and attended the University of Virginia School of Law.
Fields was charged with second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and one count of a hit-and-run. He was not granted bail, and his next hearing is scheduled for Aug. 25.
Weber, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment, is not new to the controversy that sparked this weekend’s violent rally. Activist Jason Kessler organized the “Unite the Right” rally to protest, among other things, Charlottesville’s plan to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
Weber is a plaintiff in a lawsuit fighting the statute’s removal, and represented Kessler on a misdemeanor assault charge for punching a man during a disagreement as he collected signatures for a petition regarding the statue’s removal. Weber defended Kessler, who was sentenced to 50 hours of community service, according to court records. Weber told the local paper in Charlottesville, the Daily Progress, in May that he no longer represented Kessler.
In March, a group that included 11 individuals, the local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans Inc. and the Monument Fund Inc. sued the city over its plan to remove the statue of Lee. Weber is the Monument Fund’s spokesman, and also an individual plaintiff. The lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Charlottesville is still pending.