Joey Gibson marching in downtown Portland on August 17, 2019.
Joey Gibson marching in downtown Portland on August 17, 2019. KAREN DUCEY / GETTY IMAGES

A lawyer representing far-right group Patriot Prayer and its founder Joey Gibson has appealed a Multnomah County judge's refusal to throw out a $1 million lawsuit against his client.

Patriot Prayer, Gibson, and other four members of the Vancouver, WA-based organization were sued by Portland pub Cider Riot in May 2019 for instigating a violent brawl against Cider Riot patrons (many of which identified as anti-fascists) on May Day.

In his Monday filing, attorney James Buchal asked the Oregon Court of Appeals to reconsider two pre-trial rulings. The first is Circuit Court Judge Andrew Lavin's September decision to deny Gibson's request to have his case heard in another county. The second is Lavin's November refusal to agree with Buchal that Cider Riot engaged in a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP)—a name for litigation that appears specifically crafted to intimidate and deny critics' right to free speech—an accusation that would have called for the case's dismissal.

In court, Lavin said that Cider Riot’s lawyers have provided enough evidence proving that the actions that occurred on May 1 went beyond free speech.

“Would a reasonable [person] conclude that certain individuals outside Cider Riot on May 1st engaged in conduct that went beyond constitutionally protected speech or demonstration, and therefore became tortious and/or criminal?” Lavin asked at the time. “The answer to that is yes.”

Buchal, who also serves as the president of the Multnomah County Republicans, has chosen to represent all Patriot Prayer-related defendants in this appeal—not just his main client, Gibson. Those defendants include Ian Kramer, Christopher Ponte, David Willis, and MacKenzie Lewis.

Gibson, Ponte, Kramer, and Lewis are all named in a criminal felony case related to the same May Day clash. That trial is set to begin in February.

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