Justice may be blind, but it sure isn’t especially fair.
In 2012, Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura sued the estate of the late Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, the author of the book American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History, claiming that he was defamed in that book.
According to Kyle, he and Ventura got into a confrontation in 2006 during a wake for a Navy SEAL who died in combat. Kyle claimed that Ventura made disparaging remarks about the war in Iraq, prompting Kyle to punch the former governor in the face.
The late author of American Sniper, who was shot to death by a Marine Corps reservist while attempting to help him work through his PTSD issues, claimed in his book that he knocked out Ventura who he referred to as “scruff face.” Kyle also claimed that Ventura told him “You deserve to lose a few.”
Kyle testified on video tape prior to his death that the anecdote was true, but Ventura consistently affirmed that he said no such thing.
Kyle’s attorneys argued that Ventura’s suit lacked merit. In January, a district judge considered throwing the former North Star State governor’s suit out entirely as he had renamed Kyle’s widow, Taya Kyle, as the defendant in the wake of the author’s murder.
The suit did, however, go forward. On Monday, after five days of deliberation, a jury empaneled to deliberate on Ventura’s claim informed the presiding judge that could not reach a verdict. The jury was informed that the case would likely have to be retried if a verdict could not be reached and was ordered to continue deliberating.
On Tuesday, the jury came to a conclusion and ordered Kyle’s estate to provide Ventura with $1.8 million in damages.
Ventura is a noted conspiracy theorist whose kneejerk impulse to blame the American government for everything from the 9/11 attacks, to the raid on the Osama bin Laden compound, to the JFK assassination has netted him frequent appearances on networks like Russia Today. Chris Kyle served his country with distinction in the Navy and lost his life while helping his fellow veterans re-acclimate to civilian life. Justice is blind as a bat.
But a jury has determined that Ventura was defamed, and that offense should be addressed. It seems the height of cruelty to punish Kyle’s widow for her late husband’s offense.
An earlier version of this article identified Kyle’s killer, Eddie Ray Routh, as a Navy SEAL.