The U.S. Supreme Court may be asked to review cases concerning multiple defendants of the January 6 riot who have been convicted and sentenced with what they deem as unduly long sentences.
According to a report from the Daily Caller on Wednesday, Edward Lang and Garrett Miller, both indicted for entering the Capitol on that day, have submitted petitions for the Supreme Court to dismiss an obstruction charge against them prior to their trials.
Prosecutors have been accused of stretching Section 1512(c)(2) of an unrelated statute, potentially over-penalizing individuals involved in the January 6th riots. If the Supreme Court chooses to hear their case, it could have far-reaching impacts on various defendants charged under the same law.
This statute imposes a maximum prison sentence of 20 years for obstructing, influencing, or impeding any official proceeding. While this was originally created to combat evidence tampering, prosecutors have argued that Lang and Miller attempted to disrupt Congress’ certification of election results by committing said offenses.
On August 30th, three defendants with cases pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia filed an amicus brief requesting that the Supreme Court take up their case to avoid “the propagation of erroneous interpretations and applications of law, as well as unjustified detriment to defendants and public trust in courts.”
Over 200 individuals have been charged under this 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 was sentenced to 38 months in prison for various offenses, including assaulting a police officer and unlawfully entering a restricted building, according to the Department of Justice. Despite this, the government is still pursuing a trial against him on an obstruction charge. As pre-trial detainee, Lang has been incarcerated while awaiting his trial; his petition was filed on July 7th and Miller’s on July 28th as reported by the Daily Caller.
On Monday, former President Donald Trump submitted a motion to have U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan recuse herself from his trial regarding the events of January 6th. His legal team cited several instances where they believed she demonstrated bias against him, even implying that he should be incarcerated for the riot which occurred on that day. The filing pointed out numerous public statements made by Judge Chutkan in cases involving individuals present at the Capitol building on January 6th, noting her known propensity for enforcing some of the harshest sentences upon those convicted of obstructing an official proceeding – a crime usually punishable only with 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.