Only 80 Capitol riot cases have filed guilty pleas so far, and more than 600 . have been arrested
Although federal agents have found and arrested more than 600 people across the United States who were allegedly involved in the Capitol riots, only 80 cases have been pleaded guilty to date. But as the number of people arrested in the January 6 riots grows, delays in bringing those facing charges to court are also rising on an almost weekly basis.
Most of the 80 guilty pleas came from individuals who faced misdemeanor charges for their involvement. Many other people who deal with criminal offenses such as conspiracy, assaulting officers and obstructing official proceedings can be sentenced to long periods of imprisonment if found guilty.
As drafted by the Department of Justice, the largest investigation in US history, all but one FBIInquiries’ field offices are currently open on the events of January 6th. Investigators collected thousands of hours of video footage, tips from the audience, and information from Parler. However, organizing that evidence and sharing it with defense attorneys has forced some pending trials to stall.
For more reports from the Associated Press, see below.
Meanwhile, federal court in Washington is deadlocked with Jan. 6 cases, more than double the total number of new criminal cases filed there over the past year. Complicating matters further are the court’s restrictions on trials due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Court delays are delaying a process already raised by some right-wing lawmakers, who argue it is a waste of time and money to try people accused of low-level crimes. As cases before the courts continue to falter, so do answers to what happened that day and the potential for consequences from the deadliest attack on the Capitol in a generation. while, Democrats In the House of Representatives summons the former president Donald TrumpHis aides have requested a set of documents because a select committee is also investigating the rebellion.
Although it is not unusual for federal cases to take a year or more to work through the system, some defense attorneys and judges are raising concerns that defendants who have the right to a speedy trial may end up waiting a long time before it becomes their day in court.
One of the lawyers wrote in court documents opposing the plaintiffs’ request to annul the trial scheduled for November of Timothy Hale Kozanelli, a former Army reservist who was described by his colleagues as a known Nazi sympathizer.
So far, only about 80 cases have been resolved by pleading guilty – largely by those charged only with misdemeanor offenses. Dozens more face serious criminal charges, including conspiracy, assaulting officers and obstruction of official action that calls for lengthy sentences behind bars.
In the most high-profile case brought to date, involving more than a dozen members and members of the far-right extremist group Oath Keepers, prosecutors recently told the judge that a January trial date for the first group of defendants appears increasingly unrealistic. Given the amount of evidence they still need to get into the hands of defense attorneys.
US District Judge Amit Mehta said that if they had to wait for prosecutors to turn over “every scrap of evidence” they collected in the January 6 investigation — not just that relating to a specific accused — there would be no trials in any of those cases before 2023. Three of Those accused of guarding the oath, accused of conspiring to prevent the ratification of Joe BidenThe victory of the presidential election over Trump is behind bars.
“I have to consider their interests here in a speedy trial,” Mehta said. “I am concerned about the length of pretrial detention,” he added. He did not rule immediately but indicated that the Oath Keepers’ first trial would likely be pushed back to April, with the second due in July.
At least one of those 70 defendants who have already been jailed before trial has indicated delays in trying to get out of prison. Kelly Meggs, described by authorities as the leader of the Florida branch of oath guards, said in a failed request for his release that with a trial appearing in January looking unlikely, he is effectively being held “indefinitely awaiting trial which, under the circumstances, amounts to a violation of the rights of Human “.
Prosecutors say they are working as quickly as possible under the unprecedented challenge of sharing all the evidence that could help the defense and keep the cases moving forward. But new evidence is still being discovered with each new arrest or as the analysis of the thousands of hours of video footage captured during that chaotic day is completed.
In the case of Robert Reeder, armchair investigators calling themselves discord hunters discovered new evidence before he was sentenced last month with a recommendation to put him on probation. The video appears to show Reeder arguing with a police officer, contradicting his assertion that he was not part of any violence that day. Reeder’s lawyer described the clip as problematic. A new ruling is scheduled for October 8.
Corona virus is making things worse.
Cases have already been supported due to the pandemic, and the court said no more than three trials can be held at least once until the end of October to allow for social distancing. A judge in one case recently warned lawyers there was no guarantee they would go to trial as planned in February if COVID-19 numbers rise.
The pandemic has also made it difficult for defendants held behind bars to work safely with their lawyers – a problem that has plagued the entire criminal justice system.
John Lewis, a fellow researcher who has been following the Jan 6 Case Report, said to the Extremism Program at George Washington University. “It’s a very real issue.”
Some defendants, like Hill-Kusanelli, say they don’t want to wait any longer for their chance to defend themselves in court. Hill-Kusanelli’s trial is scheduled for November 9, but prosecutors say there is no way to do so. A judge has set a hearing next week to decide whether to keep that date in place.
A lawyer for the former army reservist accused prosecutors of seeking more time only to “strengthen their case” against his client “despite having sufficient evidence to charge him.” Prosecutors called this assertion “completely baseless”.
“The government has offered notable rationale for the delay: its determined efforts to meet the challenges posed by the vast amount of relevant evidence it must review, process, classify and organize in a form that makes it accessible and useful to the defense,” they wrote in court documents.
Prosecutors say Hill-Cozanelli, who worked as a security contractor at a naval base, used his military training to avoid the effects of pepper spray and tactical hand signals to urge fellow rioters to go ahead on Jan. 6. Morshed praises the “adrenaline, rush, purpose” he felt, according to court documents.
Hill-Cozanelli’s attorney indicated that he was not accused of harming anyone that day. The defense described him as a “stubborn individual” who “exercised his right to speak freely before he was imprisoned.”