Former Gov. Jesse Ventura’s defamation case over the memoir “American Sniper” will be tried in Minnesota, U.S. District Judge Richard Kyle ruled Tuesday.
At a hearing in a St. Paul courtroom, Kyle also asked lawyers representing Ventura and Tara Kyle to “calm down” rather than “dig, dig, dig” at each other.
Taya Kyle, widow of “American Sniper” author Chris Kyle (and no relation to the federal judge), sought to move the trial to Texas where she lives, because she said she is a single mother and does not want to be separated from her two children.
The judge noted that each side would be “more comfortable” if the trial were held closer to home, but transferring the case could be more expensive for the court if he had to move his operations to Dallas along with some of his staff. A fair trial could be held in either state, he said.
“In the interest of justice and judicial economy,” it should remain in Minnesota, he said.
Neither Taya Kyle nor Ventura was in the courtroom on Tuesday.
Taya Kyle oversees the estate of her husband, a former Navy SEAL who was killed earlier this year at a Texas firing range by a young Marine Reservist he was mentoring. After Chris Kyle’s death, Ventura, a former SEAL, pro wrestler and Minnesota governor, was allowed to continue the suit against her.
The trial revolves around the chapter “Punching Out Scruff Face,” in which Kyle describes a 2006 wake for a SEAL in a Texas bar. Kyle claims he punched out a man who made disparaging remarks about the Iraq war, the United States and then-President George W. Bush. The book does not identify “Scruff Face,” but Chris Kyle later told the media it was Ventura. Ventura denies it happened and says the book has injured his reputation.
The trial is scheduled to begin next May.
Randy Furst • 612-673-4224