Second J20 Trial Ends in Mistrial

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The second trial of Trump Inauguration protesters arrested during an anti-capitalist, anti-fascist march has ended. Earlier this day the jury informed Judge Knowles that they were deadlocked on all counts against defendant Anthony Felice, but one. Feliece was acquitted of assaulting a police office and the judge declared a mistrial on the other charges. At the end of the day, the jury informed Judge Knowles that they were deadlocked on all charges against the remaining defendant Michael Basillas, resulting in a mistrial on all counts.

The second trial group consisted of four defendants, with the jury delivering partial verdicts about one defendant at time. On Monday, the jury acquitted Cathseigh Webber of all charges. On  Wednesday, they acquitted Seth Cadman on all counts, but single misdemeanor charge on which they deadlocked. The prosecution has 30 days to refile any of the charges which resulted in a mistrial.

This is yet another stunning defeat for the prosecution, headed by Assistant US Attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff, which along with DC police have spent a stunning 17 months on these cases.

So far their track record of defeat includes:

  • During the first trial, a judge dismissed the “inciting a riot” charge against all six defendants in response to a motion for judgement of acquittal brought by the defense.
  • A jury acquitted all six of the first defendants brought to trial on all remaining charges on December 21, 2017.
  • The US Attorney’s Office, in response to their first defeat, dismissed the charges against 129 of the defendants, leaving 59 protesters facing charges.
  • A group of ten defendants from two trial blocks alleged the prosecution committed a due process (“Brady”) violation by not turning over exculpatory evidence. In a move most likely to avoid a hearing on sanctions, the US Attorney’s Office dismissed (without prejudice) all charges against seven defendants in this group and reduced charges for three defendants to four misdemeanors.
  • A judge, finding the Brady violation was intentional and that Kerkhoff made false statements to him, sanctioned the government by dismissing with prejudice the conspiracy to riot charge for all ten defendants in this group. As a result, the prosecution dismissed the remaining misdemeanors against the remaining three defendants in this group. It is unclear how this will affect the nearly 40 people still slated to go on trial.
  • In the second trial, a judge throws out inciting a riot charges brought against two of the four defendants.
  • The second trial ends with the prosecution unable to secure a single conviction, with the jury either acquitting or failing to reach a verdict on each count.

Even if the US Attorney’s Office decides not to pursue that charges on which the jury deadlocked, there are still nearly 40 protesters facing charges. Given that a jury has yet to return a single guilty verdict and that these absurd charges, which use guilt by association logic to criminalize attending a protest, should never have been brought it is time to dismiss the remaining charges.

 



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