Department of Justice was wrong, says Supreme Court, as it tosses one charge against J-6er

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Joseph Fischer at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Photo is part of FBI case file.

The Supreme Court threw out a Department of Justice’s charge against a Pennsylvania man who entered the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 with other protestors who were objecting to the certification of the 2020 presidential election.

In a court vote of 6-3 on Fischer v. United States, the majority agreed with former policeman Joseph Fischer that he was wrongfully charged: A crime the government charged him with was written for cases involving evidence tampering and destruction of records. Fischer did no such thing when he entered the building with other protesters. The statute in question, Section 1512(c)(2), was being improperly applied after the federal government expanded the meaning of the statute to weaponize it against Jan. 6 defendants.

The ruling could mean more than 300 other Jan. 6 defendants could see at least this one charge dropped, although others may still be pending. Fischer was originally charged with seven crimes relating to the unruliness at the Capitol.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland released a statement downplaying the importance of the ruling: “January 6 was an unprecedented attack on the cornerstone of our system of government — the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to the next. I am disappointed by today’s decision, which limits an important federal statute that the Department has sought to use to ensure that those most responsible for that attack face appropriate consequences.”

Merrick said the “vast majority of the more than 1,400 defendants charged for their illegal actions on January 6 will not be affected by this decision. There are no cases in which the Department charged a January 6 defendant only with the offense at issue in Fischer. For the cases affected by today’s decision, the Department will take appropriate steps to comply with the Court’s ruling.”

On Friday, a fact sheet from the Department of Justice went further in defending itself:

“Today’s decision will most significantly impact a narrow band of cases: those where the only felony for which a defendant was convicted and sentenced was 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(2).  In total, approximately 52 individuals have been convicted and sentenced on that charge and no other felony; of those individuals, only 27 are currently serving a sentence of incarceration—less than 2 percent of all charged cases arising from the Capitol Breach,” the Department of Justice said in an attempt to spin the decision and absolve itself of wrongfully prosecuting Americans.

The Department also explained the impact of the decision on pending cases: “Of the approximately 249 remaining cases, there are zero cases where a defendant was charged only with 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(2). In other words, in every case potentially impacted by the Fischer decision, the defendant faced other criminal charges—felonies, misdemeanors, or both—for illegal conduct related to the Capitol Breach.”

Dissenting with the majority opinion was conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett, along with liberal Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Agreeing with the opinion was leftist Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.

The case was remanded back to the D.C. Circuit Court, where the charges against Fischer may still proceed for obstructing a proceeding of Congress.

More than 750 J-6ers have already been sentenced for J-6 crimes. Nearly two-thirds of those convicted received some prison time, from a few days of intermittent jail time to 22 years — the sentence given to Proud Boys member Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, 39, of Miami.

In the 41 months since Jan. 6, 2021, more than 1,450 individuals have been charged in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the entry into the Capitol while the Senate was certifying the election. At least 500 of those are charged with felony assault of or impeding law enforcement, the Justice Department said. Jan. 6 is the largest criminal investigation in U.S. history, with the judgments coming from the D.C. District Court, where seven of the 11 judges are Democrat appointees. The Justice Department is still hunting for about 80 individuals to press charges, including the person or persons who placed bombs at the headquarters of the Republican and Democrat parties in D.C.

The SCOTUS opinion can be read at this link.

Read this Reason Magazine analysis of the decision.

17 COMMENTS

  1. The SCOTUS essentially said the DOJ used too broad of an interpretation of the law to convict these people. A law intended to prevent the destruction of records, documents, objects, etc… was used to convict people because a Congressional meeting was interrupted.
    .
    Now, let’s apply that across board. Stop those rogue DAs and AGs from distorting a minor paperwork issue into a major crime.

    • If Grandpa Bloodstains crew made any one fatal mistake, it was moving too fast and too ham handed.

      I’d love to see Garland face actual justice, but it will never happen.

    • Cb
      Well said
      I say all j6 should be released .
      Convicting any of them on the records act pollutes their other convictions.

      Release them all . The whole thing is a sham and frankly it is the peoples house.

  2. Jan. 6th was a piece of performance art executed by Pelosi, et al, in an effort to discredit and marginalize those people that support President Trump. Any person that could view what happened in the capital that day objectively, and fail to see the actual people involved and the way it was orchestrated, is not being objective. Only one person was murdered that day and she was a military vet that was unarmed, shot when she crawled through a window by a DC cop. There were no other people harmed by people at the capital that day. The facts were that the National Guard was offered by Trump to be available that day and they were turned down by the US House Sargent at Arms, because Pelosi didn’t want them.

  3. J6 prosecutions were a witch hunt intended to silence dissent and punish people who dared challenge the new order.

    Were there bad apples who should be in jail? Of course. But this many, on this flimsy of evidence of actual crime?
    No way in hell.

  4. Attorney General Merrick Garland will go down in history as the most corrupt US Attorney General for politically weaponizing the Department of Justice at the behest of the fascist Biden administration.

  5. DOJ and FBI – Two government agencies that are totally corrupt at the top. Oh wait, just about all government agencies are corrupt at the top and many at the bottom as well.

  6. DOJ was misapplying a very narrow intent of an ENRON fixit statute (18 U. S. C. §1512(c)(1) – Sarbanes-Oxley) to J6 defendants. The maximum sentence of this statute was attractive to the prosecution and so it was applied to J6 defendants. Note that ZERO J6 defendants were ever charged with insurrection even though the democrat administration insisted that the J6 riots as the worst since the Civil War. SCOTUS has ruled through Fischer that DOJ misapplied the statute. Unfortunately, lives were ruined, families destroyed, bankruptcies and suicides resulted by the malicious application of §1512(c)(1). Hopefully, these true victims of the power of a malevolent government may get some redress.

  7. Besides Ashley Babbitt being shot, three others were killed during the events at the capital. Rossane Boyland was crushed and those trying to assist her were gassed and beaten. Two others were likely killed by flashbang grenades that where shot out into the crowd of people stand outside on the lawn of the crapital.. Victoria White was very fortunate too survive a beating of what would be considered lethal blows to the head while she was unable to defend herself.
    J6 was likely the most instantaneous of police abuse on the public at a given event in our nation’s history. Crimes did happen that day and they happened from authorities and citizens.
    Unsolved issues with the planted pipe bombs and gallows built, point to staged events that we’re planned in detail. Investigation into those and the release of the details are anything but forthright.

  8. SCOTUS conservatives are textualists unless the text does not agree with their interpretation of the text. They ruled correctly, a rogue DA could go after lobbyists if this staute was broadly applied. Very few defendants were solely charged with this statute. Fischer will do jail time for the remaining 6 charges as he should.

  9. All have a right to equal representation under the law that matters the US Constitution. Yet some of the public defenders for J6 ers did not even do discovery. Were their “legal representation” equally even state licensed to practice by the “states”. And why can”t the cases be heard in the states for jury by peer availabilty?

  10. The J6 attendees had different experiences Depending upon factors such as time and building entrance locations some were in great danger from crowd management and building features. Some have been in political captivity for nearly three years without charges. There is divergence from Constitutional procedures where the US Constitution is not applied on stateless, foreign soil. Such egregious affronts to alleged expectations of a democracy.

  11. John Adams once asked if Congress offered no leadership. Is “this” Constitution of the people, by the people or for the people identical to the word Congress? No? … is all that is left us is hugging the delusive phantom of hope?

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