Judge Jan. 6 trial of Proud Boys leader haunted by altercation between lawyers
Riot at the Capitol Trials of the Proud Boys Leader It promises to be a historic showcase for some of the most compelling evidence that far-right extremists are conspiring to block the presidential transition after the 2020 elections.
A month into the trial, there were many fireworks, most of them when the jury was not in court.
Attorneys representing the five Proud Boys accused of sedition conspiracy repeatedly quarreled with U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly during breaks in testimony. At least 10 times he has these lawyers vainly insisted that he be declared suspicious.
Judges regularly admonished lawyers for obstructing his story and threatened to insult them if it continued. It has floated the idea of dropping the lawsuit if it does not issue an unsolicited verdict.
A barrage of arguments has stalled proceedings in federal court, with several windows showing the Capitol in the distance. In court one recent day, defense attorney Norm Pattis visited and tried “Gilligan’s Island,” the title and setting of his 1960s sitcom about the crew and passengers of a wrecked boat. compared.
“It was supposed to be a three-hour tour, but people were stuck endlessly while we worked out interpersonal issues,” Pattis quipped.
Courtroom tensions reflect the high stakes for the Justice Department and defendants. He is one of the most serious cases to emerge from. January 6, 2021 Capitol Riotand former Proud Boys National President Enrique Tario is probably the most famous person ever to be charged with assault.
Proud Boys If convicted of a conspiracy to sedition, he faces up to 20 years in prison. The rarely used indictment acquittal hits prosecutors at the heart of what happened that day, a setback in the government’s Jan. 6 investigation that continues to escalate two years later.
Tario and four deputies are accused of participating in a week-long conspiracy to keep Democrat Joe Biden out of the White House after he defeated then-President Donald Trump. 2020 electionProsecutors say it culminated in a coordinated attack on the Capitol along with hundreds of other Trump supporters.
Defense attorneys say there is no evidence that the Proud Boys planned to attack the Capitol and prevent Congress from authorizing the Jan. 6 Electoral College vote. They tried unsuccessfully to move the trial out of Washington, arguing that there was no way the client would get a fair trial before a jury in the District of Columbia.
The Proud Boys trial is on pace to last several weeks longer than last year’s landmark trial against the leader and members of the Oath Keepers group, who were indicted in a separate case on January 6.
In November, a jury convicted Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rose and another leader of a sedition conspiracy after three days of jury selection, 26 days of testimony, and two days of closing arguments. was dropped. Another trial involving members of the Oath Keepers was also launched this month.
Jury selection in the Proud Boys case lasted 12 days. After the trial’s opening statements on Jan. 12, jurors heard 16 days of testimony through Friday. It’s a schedule.
Of the 14 original prosecution witnesses in the Proud Boys trial, 12 were FBI agents and other law enforcement officers. The jury also heard testimony from a former Proud Boys member who struck a plea bargain with prosecutors and a British documentary filmmaker who joined the Proud Boys on January 6.
Juries often stand by while defense counsel challenges the admissibility of evidence. In one such exchange, Pattis urged Kelly to reconsider the ruling allowing prosecutors to showcase posts from the social media platform Parler.
Pattis told the judge, “I think you made a mistake, so I’m giving you a lifeline here.
“Well, I’m offering you the lifeblood of following my orders,” Kelly replied.
Kelly warned that defense attorneys frequently reprimanded them for interrupting or speaking to him and might be insulting them. interrupted the judge as he was blaming him for the earlier suspension.
One of Tario’s lawyers sought miscarriage of justice after a witness said Tario burned a Black Lives Matter banner at a protest in Washington during a December 2020 demonstration by Trump supporters.
Tario was arrested two days before the January 6 riots, charged with vandalizing banners, and ordered to leave the city. Kelly ruled that prosecutors could discuss vandalism but not specific details about Banner. He claims to have been the commander of the Proud Boys on the ground.
Carmen Hernandez, attorney for Proud Boys chapter leader Zachary Lehr, has repeatedly accused prosecutors of using inflammatory and misleading allegations in their opening statements. Hernandez asked for a miscarriage of justice after jurors saw a violent video of the Proud Boys street fighting at a rally prior to January 6.
“In this case, not a day goes by without a complaint,” said Kelly, denying her request.
At least one juror may have signaled that the trial was slowing down.
J. Daniel Hull, one of Biggs’ attorneys, told the judge on Jan. 19 that he saw jurors nodding their heads that morning. In response, the judge told lawyers, “Focusing on the presentation may solve the problem.”
The grudge started before the jury was sworn in.
A day before the trial began, Hernandez said he felt compelled to drop the case if the judge allowed prosecutors to show certain videos as evidence. Smith, representing Nordine, went on to make similar comments about withdrawing if the judge did not rule in his favor on the issue of evidence.
Pattis, a Connecticut attorney representing Proud Boys organizer Joe Biggs, was temporarily dismissed from the case after a judge in his home state suspended his license to practice law for six months. The decision stemmed from dealing with classified documents while Pattis was representing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones in a civil suit. Kelly allowed Pattis to rejoin the trial after opening a statement after the Court of Appeals stayed the suspension.
On February 6, the judge did not summon a jury so lawyers could discuss the relevance of messages posted by the Proud Boys on the Telegram platform. Pattis warned that the Telegram evidence alone could lengthen his trial by two weeks “if he’s not careful.”
“I jokingly told the office that I want to be home by Easter today at this rate,” Pattis said.
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