Judge rejects bid to postpone Oathkeepers’ trial on January 6

0
8

The first trial of seditious conspiracy charges related to the January 6, 2021 Capitol attack is on track to begin next month in Washington for nine members of the Oath Keepers militia, after a federal judge on Tuesday dismissed a petition from nearly all defendants. postpone the courtroom showdown until next year.

Defense attorneys argued that publicity related to the January 6 selected House committee hearing and the difficulties in accessing evidence related to the case justified the postponement of the trial from its scheduled date. of 26 September for the opening of the jury selection.

However, U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta said a delay would disrupt the court’s trial calendar and that it would be unwise and likely ineffective to schedule the trial to avoid a potential conflict with the House committee.

“I cannot move this trial and I will not move this trial,” Mehta said Tuesday during a hybrid courtroom and videoconference hearing that lasted more than two hours. “It would literally wreak havoc on the role of this court.”

ALSO READ  6th Street Bridge closed for the third night in a row

Mehta said he was confident the court could find jurors who were not tainted by publicity related to the House hearings.

“We’re not going to avoid that publicity by moving this trial a few months,” said the judge, an appointee of President Barack Obama. “I don’t know what they’re going to do and when they’re going to do it. This is a court. We can’t wait for the legislative process to move forward.”

Mehta questioned a prosecutor about why the Justice Department agreed to postpone a new inflammatory conspiracy case against members and affiliates of the Proud Boys group in June, over concerns the House panel would soon release as many as 1,000 witness transcripts. . In that case, both parties expressed their concern that such a release could cause major problems just before, during or after the trial.

ALSO READ  Man found dead after apparent stabbing in Hayward Saturday morning

However, US assistant attorney Kathryn Rakoczy said on Tuesday that the release of those transcripts in August seemed more certain a few weeks ago, suggesting that the government believes the possible timing was now too unpredictable to delay a delay. in the Oath Keepers lawsuit, which was set to begin at the end of next month.

“The government didn’t have perfect information at the time, but we were afraid it would come out,” Rakoczy said of the possible document dump. “And that seemed much more certain at the time.”

Rakoczy said the Justice Department was unsure at this time if the panel would release transcripts and when. POLITICO reported last week that the panel’s chairman, Deputy Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), said a framework had been worked out for sharing the documents with prosecutors. The panel later said through a spokesperson that 20 unspecified transcripts were likely to be shared soon, but did not provide guidance on the rest.

ALSO READ  Oklahoma AG urges more state prosecutions in Indian country

“We have no promises or guarantees that these transcripts will be released,” she said Tuesday.

Mehta stressed that if the testimonies came out shortly before the trial, he would reconsider whether a delay is warranted.

“If there are transcripts on the eve of the trial relating to these defendants and the charges against them, I will review the matter. You have my word,” said the judge.

Nine defendants are currently expected to be part of the trial that begins in September, including Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes. Three members of Oath Keepers have already pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy and have agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. A trial for other Oath Keepers members not facing that charge is scheduled for February 2023.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here