During a recent hearing, federal Judge Timothy Kelly sounded less than impressed with an argument presented in favor of the release from jail of Dominic Pezzola, a leader within the far-right group known as the Proud Boys and a participant in the deadly January violence at the U.S. Capitol. Pezzola, whose charges include conspiracy and assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers, has been in jail for over eight months as he awaits trial after pleading not guilty to charges against him. Recently, he hired a new legal team, who’ve since lodged what was his third try at getting released from custody — but Judge Kelly seriously questioned the basis of that legal team’s arguments.
As summarized by a D.C.-area CBS affiliate, Pezzola’s new lawyers argued in a recent filing that “Pezzola’s constitutional rights are being violated by the restrictions the D.C. Jail places on his access to the voluminous evidence in the case,” and as that outlet also summarizes, the attorneys also insist that “residents at the D.C. Jail are required to put their names on a waitlist to review discovery, at which point they are given a two-week window to do so on one of the facility’s evidence laptops.” These provisions, they say, are inappropriately strict — and such was part of the foundation for their argument to release Pezzola from custody ahead of his trial.
Kelly questioned Pezzola’s lawyers over their pursuing of his release from custody in response to those evidence concerns rather than simply addressing the alleged issues surrounding his access to evidence. As the judge — who is the same one that rejected Pezzola’s last attempt at securing his release — put it:
‘There’s no case in which a judge reached this conclusion… it has never been grounds, that I’ve been able to find, to say that the remedy is that I should release him, as opposed to fix the problem and get him access to the evidence and counsel… The question is whether what you’re laying out is something I can consider under the law.’
Pezzola does not appear to have a trial date set as of this point, meaning that his stay in prison seems to be indefinite. As of this Monday, it doesn’t appear as though the judge has reached a public conclusion on whether to continue keeping him in jail. Meanwhile, the Proud Boys aren’t the only far-right group with members facing conspiracy charges in connection to their participation in the riot. Other groups that have been tied in some form to the deadly violence include the Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters.