Judge Shames Capitol Rioter & His Lawyer With Stern Ruling Against Them

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Federal Judge Amit Mehta has rejected an attempt by Capitol rioter Thomas Caldwell to get his case, which includes an upcoming jury trial, moved out of D.C. because of supposed bias in the local population. Caldwell’s lawyer, David Fischer, had previously argued that D.C. residents “despise many things that traditional America stands for,” with the apparent underlying presumption that Caldwell, in contrast, represents “traditional America,” whatever that’s supposed to mean. Mehta already denounced a filing from Fischer containing this argument as simply “not acceptable.” Now, the judge says that Caldwell has failed to meet “his heavy burden of establishing that the jury pool in the District of Columbia is presumptively biased against him, or any other Defendant.”

Mehta observed that Caldwell’s original argument “relies almost exclusively on media attention to argue that no fair and impartial jury can be selected… But the articles he cites as biasing the local populace against him are, for the most part, written by national media outlets… These articles were consumed by national audiences and say nothing about the jury pool in the District of Columbia specifically.” The judge summarized his findings by observing that Caldwell “has not put forth a scrap of evidence to support his claims of jury bias.” Thus, his trial — which is set for January — remains slated to take place in D.C.

According to a Justice Department webpage, Caldwell — who is affiliated with the violent right-wing group known as the Oath Keepers — is currently charged with federal criminal counts including conspiracy and obstruction of an official proceeding, the latter of which comes with a potential prison sentence of up to 20 years behind bars. Plea deals involving the latter charge have, however, been connected to substantially lower sentencing guidelines. The order in which Mehta denied Caldwell’s request to move his trial also included a denial of attempts by Caldwell and others to get certain charges dropped. Read more from Mehta at this link. 

Caldwell isn’t the only relatively prominent Capitol rioter to recently suffer a loss in their case. Jacob Chansley, otherwise known as the “QAnon Shaman” due to his previously expressed allegiance to the QAnon conspiracy theory and the distinctive attire that he wore during the riot, recently lost an attempt to leave custody ahead of his sentencing, which is set for November. Chansley pleaded guilty to a single count of obstruction of an official proceeding, although he is not set to face a subsequent sentence anywhere near the 20-year maximum.