Washington, DC – Defense attorneys for people arrested on Inauguration Day will go to court Tuesday to argue that defendants should be able to make public evidence obtained through discovery in their criminal cases. A hearing on the “protective order” will be held on Tuesday, October 10 at 11am in DC Superior Court before Judge Lynn Leibovitz.
An amicus “support” brief in opposition to the government’s protective order was filed on Friday by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and ten news media organizations including the Washington Post.
“The government doesn’t get to place a gag order on evidence that’s clearly in the public interest,” said Kris Hermes of Defense J20 Resistance. “The public needs to know that the police violently attacked hundreds of people on the streets that day and carried out the same kind of unlawful mass arrest that previously cost DC millions of dollars.”
Trump Administration prosecutors are actively fighting to keep video footage and other evidence of police misconduct under wraps in what defendants and their supporters are calling an effort to avoid embarrassment and public condemnation.
Notably, Trump Administration prosecutors moved to seal the evidence soon after a story was published in June by The Indypendent, featuring previously unreleased police body camera footage that showed Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officer brutalizing protesters.
On January 20, MPD violently attacked hundreds of protesters, journalists, legal observers, and bystanders with chemical and projectile weapons, then “kettled” more than 200 people before arresting everyone. All of those arrested were charged with felony rioting, followed in April by a superseding indictment that charged all defendants with at least eight felonies each, punishable by up to 75 years in prison.
Tuesday’s hearing comes just a week after $150,000 became available for an independent investigation into MPD misconduct on Inauguration Day. The move by the District Council to fund an investigation came after the Mayor’s Office of Police Complaints (OPC) issued a report in February criticizing the MPD for violating its own crowd control policy, as well as misuse of chemical agents, failure to provide proper dispersal orders, and making questionable arrests. The report recommended appointing an independent consultant to “investigate and examine all aspects of MPD’s actions on January 20, 2017.” Defendants, whose trials begin next month, are calling on the OPC to begin the investigation as soon as possible.