Report from Unicorn Riot on the most recent dismissal of charges in the J20 trial.
Washington, DC – Today eight more cases were dropped in the felony dragnet prosecution of protesters mass-arrested during President Trump’s inauguration on January 20th, 2017. Legal motions filed by prosecutors on Wednesday, June 13th, sought to dismiss cases against six defendants who had been scheduled to go to trial on June 25th, as well as two other defendants who would have also faced trial later this year.
DC Superior Court Chief Judge Robert Morin then signed an order to officially drop the charges against the eight defendants:
The first Trump inauguration protest trial ended in full acquittals late last year after jurors declined to convict six defendants based on their “mere presence” at the protest. The second ‘J20’ trial ended last week in a mixture of acquittals and mistrials due to a deadlocked jury. Prosecutors claimed to have identified several defendants as personally involved in property destruction, but the evidence presented based on video analysis by DC Police Detective Greggory Pemberton did not appear strong enough to convince a jury of any identification beyond a reasonable doubt.
On the morning of Trump’s inauguration, DC police surrounded the “anti-capitalist, antifascist” march at 12th & L streets and arrested the entire group of over 200 people. Federal prosecutors then began pursuing an aggressive conspiracy case, arguing that everyone present at the protest was legally liable for all acts of property damage committed by a few individuals at the event. The US Attorney was recently forced to drastically reduce their case after Chief Judge Morin ruled prosecutors had committed a ‘Brady’ violation by hiding video evidence provided to the government by the far-right “entrapment” media group Project Veritas.
Thirty-six people still face multiple felony charges, with sentences of up to sixty years in prison, based on an indictment filed by federal prosecutors in the wake of the mass arrest on inauguration day. A detailed summary of the second trial released by the National Lawyers Guild points out that the prosecution can refile any charges that were dismissed without prejudice on or before July 11th.