RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A Richmond judge is suing Republican U.S. Senate candidate Daniel Gade for more than $2 million in damages, contending in a defamation suit that Gade falsely claimed he was a “known segregationist” and a “racist judge” in a debate at Norfolk State University in early October.
Richmond Circuit Court Judge Bradley B. Cavedo filed the lawsuit, which requests a trial by jury, in Albemarle County on Tuesday over remarks Gade made during an Oct. 3 debate with Senator Mark Warner of Virginia.
Referencing President Donald Trump’s response to the “Unite the Right” rally, WAVY anchor Anita Blanton asked the candidates if they felt there were “good people on both sides of the riots in Charlottesville.” The question sparked the exchange at the center of the defamation suit.
After both candidates shared their thoughts, Gade pivoted the conversation to Warner’s appointment of Cavedo in 2002. “But as Governor in 2002, when you were in charge of who you appointed to the bench in Virginia, you appointed a known segregationist named Calvados to the 13th District,” Gade said during the debate. “And here’s the thing about that. He said that black people are parasites and they would suck billions of dollars out of our economy.”
Gade was alluding to an opinion piece Cavedo wrote in the University of Richmond’s newspaper, The Collegian, in 1977. Cavedo, who was the editor of the paper’s editorial page at the time, was critical of school desegregation and President Jimmy Carter’s instant voter registration plan when he wrote, “This scheme will allow the parasites of this nation to become the dominating force in politics. The majority of those people, who pay next to nothing in taxes and soak billions from the government in various forms of relief, do not bother to register in advance of an election and therefore usually do not vote.”
The controversial op-ed piece from Cavedo, which never mentions race, resurfaced as he was presiding over the Robert E. Lee statue lawsuit, a case that the judge eventually recused himself from after saying that his home, which is located near the monument, could “create the appearance” of bias.
The defamation suit notes that Gade did not add any additional clarification or explanation, and even republished his remarks on social media the next day. An attorney for Cavedo reached out to Gade’s legal counsel on Oct. 15 and asked that he “retract his false and defamatory statements.”
“Gade’s statements concerning Cavedo are false,” the lawsuit asserts. “Cavedo is not a known segregationist, nor was he one in 2002. Cavedo never said that black people are parasites or that they would suck billions of dollars out of our economy. Cavedo is not, and has never been, a racist.”
Chris Woodfin, Gade’s attorney, said in an interview with 8News on Wednesday that the remarks were part of a political argument during the debate and that Gade stands by them. Woodfin added that he felt Cavedo’s op-ed in 1977 was “pretty self explanatory” and that Gade joined a list of other elected officials and prominent officials who have condemned the piece, specifically noting the response from the head of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, Del. Lamont Bagby (D-Henrico).
“This is not the first time these remarks have been discussed,” Woodfin said. “If Judge Cavedo has a problem, I would have expected him to raise some concerns before this.”
Cavedo seeks $2 million for compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages, including prejudgment interest from Oct. 3 and Oct. 4. Thomas E. Albro, an attorney for Judge Cavedo, shared the following statement on Nov. 10 regarding the defamation lawsuit:
“Today Judge Bradley B. Cavedo filed a defamation lawsuit in Albemarle County, Virginia against Daniel Gade for damages related to Gade’s false and defamatory statements about Judge Cavedo on a Norfolk, Virginia debate stage last month. It is regrettable that Mr. Gade ignored readily available facts and leads that, if acknowledged or pursued, would have informed him that his planned remarks regarding Judge Cavedo’s political views and past statements were false. The political division within our country is made worse by the false and inflammatory rhetoric used by Gade during his debate with Senator Warner on October 3, 2020. Judge Cavedo files this defamation lawsuit to clear his name of the vile accusations of racist views Gade made against him. Judge Cavedo will not be granting media interviews regarding this matter until the case is resolved.”