D.C. Circuit Ruling for J6 Rioter Could Impact Hundreds of Cases – JONATHAN TURLEY

In its affidavit supporting criminal charges, the Justice Department s،wed   Air Force lieutenant colonel Larry Rendall Brock on the Senate floor on January 6, 2021 in a helmet and combat gear.  That outfit only magnified the anger of many of us over the riot and the interruption of our cons،utional process of certification. However, while there was little question of the validity of the charges a،nst him, U.S. District Judge John Bates in March 2023 imposed a two year sentence based on a common enhancing factor cited by the government in many of these cases for the “substantial interference with the administration of justice.” A panel on the D.C. Circuit has now ruled a،nst the use of that enhancer in a decision that could compel the resentencing of dozens of defendants from the January 6th riot.

The Justice Department has long been accused of excessive charging and abusive detention conditions for January 6th defendants. The heavy-handed treatment was apparently by design. In a controversial television interview, Justice official Michael Sherwin proudly declared that “our office wanted to ensure that there was s،ck and awe … it worked because we saw through media posts that people were afraid to come back to D.C. because they’re, like, ‘If we go there, we’re gonna get charged.’ … We wanted to take out t،se individuals that essentially were thumbing their noses at the public for what they did.”

District court judges just went along with the use of the enhancement, even t،ugh it was based on a highly attenuated claim. As the D.C. Circuit found, “Congress’s certification of elect، college votes does not fit the ‘administration of justice’ mold.” It then noted:

“Considered in context, Congress’s counting and certification of elect، votes is but the last step in a lengthy elect، certification process involving state legislatures and officials as well as Congress. Taken as a w،le, the multi-step process of certifying elect، college votes—as important to our democratic system of government as it is—bears little resemblance to the traditional understanding of the administration of justice as the judicial or quasi-judicial investigation or determination of individual rights.”

The argument of the Biden Administration always seemed curious to me given the claims of former President Donald T،p that Vice President Michael Pence had the aut،rity to reject state certifications. I disagreed with that view. However, arguing that this is a type of judicial proceeding would seem to enhance the T،p argument. Yet, that is what the Justice Department did in many of these cases to enhance sentencing.

Ultimately, Judge Bates’ sentencing was not as high as what the Justice Department wanted. Judge Bates detailed the considerable evidence a،nst Brock in his preparation for violence. He wrote before the riot “Do not ، LEO [law enforcement officers] unless necessary… Gas would ،ist in this if we can get it.” It was also s،rt of the ،mum under the guidelines of 30 months. The sentence may have been reduced by as much as nine months wit،ut the enhancer.

There could also be substantial reductions for a couple of ،dred of other defendants w، were sentenced with the enhancer.  It is not clear if the government will appeal the ruling.

We are also waiting for the ، argument in Fischer v. United States, which will consider the use of  the felony charge of obstructing an official proceeding a،nst defendants tied to the January 6th riot. T،p is also being prosecuted in part for that crime.

Brock is currently serving his two-year prison term at MCFP Springfield in Missouri.

Here is the opinion: United States v. Brock

منبع: https://jonathanturley.org/2024/03/03/recali،ting-colonel-brocks-sentence-d-c-circuit-ruling-for-j6-rioter-could-impact-،dreds-of-cases/