Supreme Court Considers Taking Jan. 6 Cases That Could Affect Trump Prosecution

The Supreme Court is scheduled to deliberate on whether to accept petitions from defendants accused in connection with the Jan. 6 riot, which could potentially impact the criminal prosecution of former President Donald Trump.

The defendants are requesting the dismissal of an indictment that charged them with obstructing an official proceeding at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021. At that time, Congress was momentarily unable to certify President Joe Biden’s victory due to rioters storming the building. On Friday, the justices will meet for their semi-annual private conference to discuss the possibility of reviewing the oral arguments of defendants Edward Lang, Joseph Fischer, and Garrett Miller.

The defendants have asked the Supreme Court to decide whether the proper statute to use in prosecuting them is Section 1512 (c)(2) of the US Code. In a petition filed on July 11, Lang’s defense attorney contended that the disagreement over this statute could impact “hundreds of cases as the Department of Justice continues to charge folks who participated in a protest that turned violent on January 6, 2021.” He cited the case as evidence.

Special counsel Jack Smith has filed four counts against Trump in his federal election interference case, including this and other offenses, the Washington Examiner reported.

A lower court decision that allowed the government to pursue charges against the defendants would remain in effect if the justices rejected the case. On the other hand, the justices might take their time over their legal issues if they decide to take up the case, delaying the hearing of oral arguments until the spring and possibly even into June. The nine-member court needs a minimum of four votes to grant a case review.

Also, Trump’s legal team may interpret the petition’s approval as a green light to ask for a postponement of his election inference trial, which is set to begin on March 4, the day before many states choose their Republican nominee for the general election in November.

An FBI affidavit states that footage from the day of the riot purportedly shows Lang smashing a police riot shield into the ground near law enforcement while he is utilizing it. In addition, he allegedly struck police officers’ shields several times while swinging a baseball bat at them.

Before Lang’s trial, his attorney moved the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to dismiss the obstruction charge, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years. A rehearing request was rejected after an appeals court overturned the lower court’s decision.

Stewart Rhodes, leader of the Oath Keepers, and Enrique Tarrio, leader of the Proud Boys, are two of the prominent figures implicated in the riot who have been charged with this most severe offense thus far in the cases brought by prosecutors since January 6. Rhodes received an 18-year prison term in May, while Tarrio received a 22-year prison term in September.

As the front-runner for the Republican nomination, Trump stands to gain from a trial postponement since, should he win in 2024, the charges against him in the two federal cases could be dismissed. He is also facing charges in another case related to the purported improper handling of sensitive documents. It is possible that he could be found guilty before the election if the March proceedings in the District of Columbia proceed according to plan.

According to the ex-president’s legal team’s October motion to dismiss the case, Smith’s indictment unfairly implicated their client in violation of the relevant statute. The attorneys stated that the statute is stretched beyond any reasonable connection to its text because it is used to dispute the results of a presidential election rather than to destroy records of accounting fraud.

According to what Lang’s lawyer, Norm Pattis, had previously told the Washington Examiner, the government’s interpretation of the statute was too broad.

“What does it mean to do something corruptly?” Pattis inquired, further stating that “a lot of people are going to be afraid to turn up at public events for fear that if somebody acts up, they’re all going to go to prison.” If this charge is allowed to stand, the consequence, as Pattis put it, will be that attendees will avoid public gatherings.

Each term, the Supreme Court gets thousands of petitions, but it only grants approximately sixty to seventy of them. A trend that has emerged in recent years is the tendency for the justices to review criminal statutes when there is a reasonable argument that the statutes’ application to a defendant is too broad.

If the application is approved, the justices will decide in December to hear cases for the current term, which means that this case will be argued and decided by the end of June. Because of the passing of Sandra Day O’Connor, a former justice who retired in 2006, the cases were postponed from last week’s scheduled consideration by the justices.

Despite Trump’s success in getting his trial postponed, the high court’s decision in the summer could still allow the election subversion case against him to proceed.

Following Friday’s conference, the Supreme Court often publishes an orders list on Mondays that indicates the approval or denial of new cases, so a decision on whether to accept the case could be imminent.

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