Understanding the Threat and its President John Guandolo emerged unbowed and victorious from a two-year long case meant to derail UTT’s efforts to educate the public about Islamic terrorist threats in the community.
This outcome will, in no way, derail or deter UTT’s mission.
Richard Stanek, the former Sheriff of Hennepin County, Minnesota, brought multiple causes of action against John Guandolo and UTT ostensibly based on an altercation in June 2017. However, during the trial Stanek testified his true purpose in bringing the lawsuit was to silence Guandolo’s and UTT’s truth-telling about jihad and sharia. Stanek’s counsel urged the jury to award over $110 million dollars against Guandolo and UTT to silence their alleged “hate” speech and punish them for it.
The jury completely rejected this argument and, instead, found that neither Guandolo nor UTT intentionally caused Stanek emotional distress nor acted with malice. The jury, in a 10-2 verdict, found that Guandolo assaulted Stanek; however, the jury found that Stanek was 49% responsible for the altercation. In what Guandolo and UTT believe was clear reversible error, the jury was not allowed to answer the question of whether Guandolo was merely defending himself. However, in questioning the jury after the trial, Guandolo’s and UTT’s counsel learned that many of the jurors would have found that Guandolo’s actions were solely done in self-defense.
Based on the jury’s finding of fault by Stanek, any eventual judgement would only be for 51% of Stanek’s damages, which based on the jury’s current verdict would be $306,000.
UTT & Guandolo Overcome Numerous Difficulties To Prevail At Trial
In 2019, Guandolo and UTT became unable to continue to pay the mounting legal bills in this case, and the law firm representing them withdrew from the case. Guandolo was able to secure a pro bono attorney for the next key hearing in July, but was unable to secure new counsel pro bono to fully represent Guandolo and UTT in the case.
Ten days prior to the September 9, 2019 trial date, Guandolo and UTT found a law firm willing to represent them, but needed to raise money immediately in order to retain counsel.
John Guandolo/UTT’s efforts to obtain new counsel and continue to educate the public about potential threats was almost thwarted. After sending an email soliciting donations for necessary legal funds, GoFundMe shut down UTT’s account less than 48-hours after launch. UTT believes this was likely done at the urging of parties seeking to silence Guandolo/UTT’s free speech rights. Nevertheless, Guandolo and UTT prevailed and they were able to set up a portal on their website to collect donations. In less than 24-hours, UTT raised over $30,000 and was able to deliver the necessary funds to its new counsel that evening.
On the morning of jury selection, the Court incorrectly granted a “no evidence” summary judgment motion with respect to Guandolo’s and UTT’s “self-defense” claim. Such a “no evidence” motion only requires the party to bring forth a “scintilla” of evidence, i.e. enough evidence to create a mere surmise or suspicion of the defense. Guandolo and UTT believe this was clear reversible error as they put forward: a video of the altercation showing Stanek’s physical force against Guandolo prior to Guandolo taking action; deposition testimony from two witnesses detailing Stanek’s aggressive behavior and initiation of the altercation; and a sworn statement from Guandolo describing how he acted in self-defense. This incorrect ruling directly contributed to the jury’s assault finding. Based on discussions with jurors post-trial, a self-defense question could have resulted in a finding that Guandolo and UTT did not assault Stanek.
Background On Lawsuit
In October 2017, Richard Stanek, then Sheriff of Hennepin County, Minnesota, filed suit against UTT and Guandolo for assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and damages. The lawsuit centered around an alleged altercation in June 2017, at the National Sheriff’s Association Annual Conference in Reno, Nevada. At the request of Stanek, Guandolo and two others met with Stanek to discuss an article written in October 2016 that mentioned Stanek. The article can be found at https://www.understandingthethreat.com/in-this-war-minnesotas-twin-cities-are-lost/
However, instead of talking about the article, Stanek began degrading and mocking Guandolo and his years of dedicated service to this country (U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Marine Corp, FBI, and Department of Defense). Eventually, Stanek stood up and said, “Let’s go. Get the f**k away from me. Who the f**k do you think you are?” After Guandolo also got up, Stanek pushed him with his chest and shoving by both parties ensued. Stanek then grabbed Guandolo’s tie tight enough that it was strangling Guandolo.
In order to protect himself, Guandolo punched Stanek to get him to release Guandolo’s tie. Nevertheless, Stanek did not let go of the tie until multiple sheriff’s deputies jumped on him and ordered him to let go.
Stanek made a complaint to law enforcement and a criminal charge was filed in Nevada, but the prosecutor’s office dismissed the action for want of clear evidence of who started the fight.
Stanek has a history of bullying and name calling dating back to 1989. This was just another example of how retired Sheriff Richard Stanek took advantage of his position of power to intimidate others into submission.