Bickering bogs down Capitol riot trial of Proud Boys leaders

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Capitol riot trial for Proud Boys leaders promised to be a historic showcase for a number of the most compelling proof of an alleged plot by far-right extremists to halt the switch of presidential energy after the 2020 election.

One month into the trial, there have been loads of fireworks, however largely when the jury wasn’t within the courtroom.

Attorneys representing the 5 Proud Boys charged with seditious conspiracy have repeatedly sparred with US District Decide Timothy Kelly throughout breaks in testimony. Not less than 10 instances, these legal professionals have argued in useless for him to declare a mistrial.

The choose frequently admonishes legal professionals for interrupting him and has threatened to carry them in contempt if it continues. Two protection legal professionals at one level floated the concept of ​​withdrawing from the case if Kelly didn’t rule of their favor on evidentiary issues.

The barrage of bickering has slowed down the proceedings within the federal courthouse, the place the Capitol may be seen within the distance from some home windows. One latest day in court docket, protection lawyer Norm Pattis in contrast the trial to visiting “Gilligan’s Island,” the title and setting of the Nineteen Sixties-era sitcom a few shipwrecked boat’s crew and passengers.

“It was speculated to be a three-hour tour, and other people have been stranded collectively for an infinite interval whereas they labored out their interpersonal difficulties,” Pattis quipped.

The stress within the courtroom displays the excessive stakes for the Justice Division and the defendants. It is one of the crucial severe circumstances to emerge from the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, and former Proud Boys nationwide chairman Enrique Tarrio is probably the best profile particular person to be charged to this point within the assault.

The Proud Boys resist 20 years in jail if convicted of seditious conspiracy. Acquittals on the hardly ever used cost — which strikes on the coronary heart of what prosecutors say occurred that day — could be a setback within the authorities’s Jan. 6 investigation, which continues to develop two years later.

Tarrio and 4 lieutenants are accused of taking part in a weekslong plot to maintain Democrat Joe Biden out of the White Home after he defeated then-President Donald Trump within the 2020 election. Prosecutors say it culminated with Proud Boys mounting a coordinated assault on the Capitol alongside lots of of different Trump supporters.

Protection legal professionals say there isn’t any proof that the Proud Boys plotted to assault the Capitol and cease Congress from certifying the Electoral Faculty vote on Jan. 6. The legal professionals declare prosecutors are mischaracterizing bellicose on-line banter as a violent plot. They tried unsuccessfully to maneuver the trial out of Washington, arguing that there was no means their purchasers might get a good trial in entrance of a District of Columbia jury.

The Proud Boys trial is on a tempo to final a number of weeks longer than final 12 months’s landmark trial for Oath Keepers group leaders and members who have been charged in a separate Jan. 6 case.

in November, a jury convicted Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and one other chief of seditious conspiracy after three days of jury choice, 26 days of testimony and two days of closing arguments. A separate trial involving members of the Oath Keepers — who face a slew of prices, however not seditious conspiracy — additionally received underway this month.

Jury choice for the Proud Boys case lasted 12 days. After the trial’s opening statements on Jan. 12, jurors have heard 16 days of testimony via Friday. Prosecutors are anticipated to relaxation their case in late February or early March earlier than the protection workforce begins presenting testimony.

A dozen of the primary 14 prosecution witnesses within the Proud Boys trial have been FBI brokers and different regulation enforcement officers. Jurors even have heard testimony from a former Proud Boys member who reduce a plea take care of prosecutors and a British documentary filmmaker who was embedded with the Proud Boys on Jan 6.

Jurors are sometimes saved ready within the wings whereas protection legal professionals problem the admissibility of proof. In a single such alternate, Pattis urged Kelly to rethink a ruling permitting prosecutors to introduce posts from the social media platform Parler.

“We’re providing you a lifeline right here as a result of we predict you erred,” Pattis advised the choose.

“Nicely, I am providing you the lifeline of obeying my order,” Kelly responded.

Kelly has regularly scolded protection legal professionals for interrupting and speaking over him, warning that he might discover them in contempt. At one level, lawyer Nicholas Smith interrupted the choose whereas the choose was chastising him for an earlier interruption.

One in every of Tarrio’s legal professionals requested for a mistrial after a witness mentioned that Tarrio had burned a Black Lives Matter banner at a protest in Washington throughout a December 2020 demonstration by Trump supporters.

Tarrio was arrested two days earlier than the Jan. 6 riot, charged with vandalizing the banner and ordered to depart town. Kelly dominated that prosecutors might talk about the vandalism, however not particular particulars in regards to the banner. Prosecutors allege Tarrio remained in control of the Proud Boys on the bottom on Jan. 6 regardless that he wasn’t there.

Carmen Hernandez, a lawyer for Proud Boys chapter chief Zachary Rehl, has repeatedly moved for mistrials, together with when she accused a prosecutor of utilizing inflammatory and deceptive allegations in his opening assertion. Hernandez requested for a mistrial after jurors noticed violent movies of Proud Boys road preventing at rallies earlier than Jan. 6.

“It would not be a day on this trial and not using a mistrial movement,” mentioned Kelly, who denied her request.

Not less than one juror could have despatched a sign in regards to the sluggish tempo of the trial.

J. Daniel Hull, one among Biggs’ legal professionals, advised the choose on Jan. 19 that he noticed a juror nodding off that morning. In response, the choose advised legal professionals that “focusing their shows would possibly assist that situation.”

The rancor began earlier than the jury was even sworn in.

A day earlier than the trial began, Hernandez mentioned she felt compelled to withdraw from the case if the choose allowed prosecutors to point out a selected video as proof. Smith, who represents Proud Boys chapter chief Ethan Nordean, adopted up with an analogous remark about withdrawing if the choose did not rule in his favor on an evidentiary matter.

Pattis, a Connecticut-based lawyer who represents Proud Boys organizer Joe Biggs, was briefly sidelined from the case after a choose in his residence state suspended his license to observe regulation for six months. The choice stemmed from Pattis’ dealing with of confidential paperwork throughout his illustration of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones in a civil regulation go well with. Kelly allowed Pattis to rejoin the trial after opening statements as soon as an appeals court docket postponed his suspension.

The choose did not carry jurors into court docket on Feb. 6 so the legal professionals might argue in regards to the relevance of messages that Proud Boys posted on the Telegram platform. Pattis warned that the Telegram proof alone might add two weeks to the trial “if we’re not cautious.”

“I jokingly advised my workplace I hope to be residence by Easter right now on the fee issues are going,” Pattis added.


Observe the AP’s protection of the Capitol riot at

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