OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
The U.S. Supreme Court could consider cases involving several January 6 riot defendants who were convicted and saddled with what they consider to be excessively long sentences.
Edward Lang and Garrett Miller, who are both accused of entering the Capitol on January 6, have petitioned the Supreme Court to dismiss an obstruction charge against them ahead of their trials, the Daily Caller reported on Wednesday.
They argue that prosecutors have stretched an unrelated statute to unfairly “over-penalize” individuals involved in the riots. If the Supreme Court decides to hear their case, it could potentially have far-reaching consequences for numerous other January 6 defendants who face charges under the same statute, the outlet noted further.
The statute under scrutiny is Section 1512(c)(2), which imposes a maximum prison sentence of 20 years for individuals who “obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding.” While originally enacted to combat evidence tampering, government prosecutors have argued that both Lang and Miller, along with numerous other January 6 defendants, obstructed an official proceeding by attempting to disrupt Congress’s certification of the election results, the Daily Caller noted further.
An amicus brief filed Aug. 30 by three other defendants who have cases pending before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia also requested that the Supreme Court hear their case to prevent “a cascade of errors and misconceptions in the application of the law and undeserved harm to the defendants and the public perception of the courts.”
The brief said that more than 200 people have been charged under the statute.
“A short walk from the building in which this Court sits, ‘a revolution is underway, with ambitious federal prosecutors reworking the penal code to make it do work never intended to be done, work that threatens to chill, and does chill, ordinary Americans in their First Amendment rights to assemble, to petition for the redress of grievances and to speak out on matters of public concern,” Lang’s petition noted, calling the application of Section 1512(c)(2) “overcriminalization of otherwise criminal conduct.”
In February, Miller received a 38-month prison sentence for various offenses, including assaulting a police officer and unlawfully entering a restricted building, per the Department of Justice. Nevertheless, according to his petition, the government remains committed to pursuing a trial against him for the obstruction charge.
Lang, awaiting his trial, is incarcerated as a pre-trial detainee, according to his petition. Lang’s petition was filed July 7 and Miller’s on July 28, the Daily Caller added.
Meanwhile, former President Donald Trump filed a motion late Monday that seeks to have U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan recuse herself from his Jan. 6 case after citing several instances where they believe she showed abject bias against him, even suggesting Trump should be jailed over the riot that took place that day.
In the filing, Trump’s legal team referenced public statements made by the judge, who was appointed by Obama, in cases involving defendants from January 6. Chutkan has gained a reputation for imposing some of the harshest prison sentences on non-violent protesters found guilty of obstructing an official proceeding, an offense typically resulting in fines.
“Judge Chutkan has, in connection with other cases, suggested that President Trump should be prosecuted and imprisoned. Such statements, made before this case began and without due process, are inherently disqualifying,” reads the filing.
“Although Judge Chutkan may genuinely intend to give President Trump a fair trial—and may believe that she can do so—her public statements unavoidably taint these proceedings, regardless of the outcome,” the filing continued.
“The public will reasonably and understandably question whether Judge Chutkan arrived at all of her decisions in this matter impartially, or in fulfillment of her prior negative statements regarding President Trump,” it added.