Monday, September 11, 2023

Jan. 6 defendants being treated more leniently than similar defendants

The vast majority of Jan. 6 defendants have been released on bail while awaiting trial, however, and their pretrial detention rate is significantly lower than the rate for the total population of federal defendants, reported The New York Times.

The suggestions by Gov. DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy that Jan. 6 rioters and conspirators were being punished more harshly than people who participated in Black Lives Matter protests align with Republicans’ broader grievances that the federal justice system has been “weaponized” against conservatives.

But most of the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020, when the movement reached a peak, were peaceful. An Associated Press investigation in 2021 found that, in the cases where they did turn violent, more than 120 defendants had either pleaded guilty or been convicted on federal charges such as rioting, arson and conspiracy.

Those who had been sentenced at the time of the A.P. investigation had received prison terms of a little over two years on average. But of the more than 1,100 cases related to Jan. 6, according to an NPR database, the median sentence for those who received prison time has been 120 days.

In the cases of Mr. Tarrio and other Proud Boys leaders, the more serious charges of seditious conspiracy — and the harsher sentences — stemmed from their attempts to overturn a democratic election or prevent the government from carrying out essential business. Federal law defines seditious conspiracy as two or more people plotting to overthrow the federal government by force, to wage war against it, to seize federal property or to, by force, “prevent, hinder or delay the execution of any law of the United States.”

 “The Portland rioters’ conduct, while obviously serious, did not target a proceeding prescribed by the Constitution and established to ensure a peaceful transition of power,” Carl J. Nichols, a district court judge in Washington who was appointed by Mr. Trump, wrote in denying a motion from a Jan. 6 defendant who had claimed to be a victim of “selective prosecution.” “Nor did the Portland rioters, unlike those who assailed America’s Capitol in 2021, make it past the buildings’ outer defenses.”

The defendant, Judge Nichols wrote, “has failed to point to any Portland case that is similar to this one and in which the government made a substantially different prosecutorial decision.”

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