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Albemarle County Prosecutor Challenging Dismissal of Case Against Kessler

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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) -

Albemarle County's top prosecutor wants another go at the organizer of the Unite the Right rally.

Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney Robert Tracci is challenging a judge's decision to throw the perjury case out against Jason Eric Kessler.

Judge Cheryl Higgins dismissed Tracci's case before it went to the jury on March 20, agreeing with defense attorney Mike Hallahan's argument that the commonwealth failed to prove that Kessler had committed a crime in the county.

Tracci has filed a new motion [pdf], asking for Judge Higgins to throw out her own decision. He is pointing to a 21-day window of opportunity where the circuit court judge could still allow a new trial.

The case revolved around an assault on Charlottesville's Downtown Mall in January 2017: Kessler claimed in a criminal complaint that James Justin Taylor assaulted him while he was trying to collect signatures for a petition. Kessler said he acted in self-defense when he punched Taylor.

A surveillance camera caught the incident between the two men, and contributed to the case against Taylor being dropped. April 2017, Kessler entered a guilty plea in Charlottesville General District Court to a misdemeanor charge of assault.

Kessler had filed his criminal complaint against Taylor at the magistrate's office located in the Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail, which is located in the county.

“What he's trying to do is to ask Judge Higgins to reconsider the ruling, and then hold onto it, set it back down for another trial... give him another chance where he'll presumably he will remember to ask somebody the question, ‘Where was this done? It was the magistrate's office. Is that in Albemarle County? Yes,'" explained legal analyst Lloyd Snook.

If he can't get a new trial, then Tracci may attempt to reindict Kessler. This could be problematic for the commonwealth, as it could be deemed double jeopardy – meaning a person cannot be tried for the same crime twice.

Hallahan is challenging Tracci’s motion to get a new trial. Kessler's attorney believes Judge Higgins’ decision should be considered an acquittal, and jeopardy attached in the case.

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