WASHINGTON — A federal judge delayed a Jan. 6 trial that had been set for August involving members of the Proud Boys, citing the work of the House committee investigating the U.S. Capitol attack.
U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly said at a hearing Wednesday that he would "reluctantly" move the trial back after several defendants sought the delay because of the publicity surrounding the Jan. 6 committee's work. The Justice Department agreed with the delay request and indicated in a filing that the trial set for August should be delayed until December.
The case involves several Jan. 6 defendants associated with the Proud Boys: Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl, Enrique Tarrio and Dominic Pezzola. Tarrio, Nordean, Biggs, Rehl and Pezzola are all charged with seditious conspiracy. Charles Donohoe, who was a co-defendant, pleaded guilty in April to conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, as well as assaulting, resisting or impeding officers; he agreed to cooperate with the government.
"Given the prominence of the Proud Boys in the Committee’s publicly televised hearings and the appearance of several Proud Boys members in publicly aired videotape depositions (e.g., Tarrio), it is reasonably foreseeable that information relevant to the defendants’ guilt (or innocence) could soon be released to the parties and the public," Justice Department lawyers wrote.
"Were the trial in this case not continued, the parties in this case could find themselves in the unprecedented position of litigating a criminal trial simultaneous to the release of a Congressional report that is likely to include robust descriptions of the criminal conduct of the defendants."
Kelly said he would not accept a major delay between jury selection and opening statements. If the trial moves forward in December, he said, both parties should be prepared to make opening statements and not wait until after the holiday break.
Kelly said that, based on what he had read, the Jan. 6 committee could change its plan “at any time.” The committee indicated Wednesday that hearings that had been scheduled for June had been kicked back until July.
“We’re going to have to play it by ear,” Kelly said.
Tarrio, the former chair of the Proud Boys, was the odd man out even as most defendants said delaying the trial was in their best interest.
"Tarrio believes that an impartial jury will never be achieved in Washington D.C. whether the trial is in August, December, or next year," his Florida-based lawyers, Sabino Jauregui and Nayib Hassan, wrote in a memo. "Out of the hundreds of people charged in the January 6 incident, Tarrio is the only person that was not even there. Tarrio is innocent of all the accusations contained in the indictment and everyday he spends locked up in jail is a travesty of justice. Justice delayed is justice denied."
The FBI has arrested more than 825 people in connection with the Jan. 6 attack, and more than 300 have pleaded guilty. Hundreds of additional cases are in the works.