Defense Attorneys: January 6 Criminal Prosecutions Could Potentially Extend Into 2024 Elections
Although it has been over a year since January 6, 2016, the attack on the U.S. Capitol was committed, none of those charged have yet gone to trial. A few of those charged are expected to begin in the next months. However, a Justice Department official stated that defense lawyers believe some of the hundreds will be extended into the 2024 presidential elections.
Katie Cusick is making peace with the long wait ahead. She said, “There’s a looming cloud above our heads.”
Her brother and father are among the many January 6 defendants who are awaiting trial dates.
She said, “They are frustrated by the delay” and “the progress”.
Jim and Casey Cusick from Melbourne, Florida are two of the 730 defendants in the January 6 prosecutions. They have pleaded not guilty to the charges and are now free from custody pending trial. Their defense lawyer advised them that their cases won’t be closed until at least 2023.
They’re not the only ones. One year ago, none of the January 6 defendants were brought to trial. According to a Justice Department official, only five of the January 6 defendants are expected to go on trial before April.
A defense lawyer handling Cusick’s case as well as the cases of several other January 6 defendants said that he expected some cases to continue open until the next presidential election, which will be held in November 2024.
With its January 6 cases, the Justice Department is facing unique and serious logistical challenges. Due to COVID risk, the D.C. federal courthouse is closed for jury trials until at least February 7. Virtual hearings can be accessed via Zoom or phone connections. Trials must be held in person at the courthouse located a short distance from the U.S. Capitol.
It is also working to manage an unprecedented amount of evidence. The U.S. Capitol Riot prosecution, described by the agency as one of the most significant criminal cases in U.S. History, is flooded with tips and evidence.
The Justice Department claimed that there are more than 14,000 hours of Capitol surveillance footage, 250 terabytes of data, and more than 200 000 tips from the public in a series of recent court filings. Federal prosecutors are working to organize and manage a growing stack of evidence and materials, as well as a growing collection on social media, witness interviews, and phone videos.
The agency informed a judge this week that there was still work to be done in preparing evidence for the court, defense attorneys, defendants, and trial.
“This investigation generated an immense amount of evidence,” said the Justice Department in a court filing on Thursday. This was part of its request to extend the time in the case against a defendant from New Jersey.
Judges have established trial dates in some cases, including the highly publicized OathKeepers case against suspected conspirators. Some of these trials will begin in April while others are expected to start in July or September. Some defendants are currently in pretrial detention and charged with seditious conspiracies.
Approximately 40 defendants were in pretrial detention at the Washington, D.C. jail. Some of them have been in prison for nearly a year without any firm trial dates. Judges have stated that pretrial custody cases should be given priority for earlier trial dates.
Katie Cusick stated that her family supports her brother and father’s case, and that trial dates should be set for when the more senior jailed defendants can face a jury. She said, “They have it worse than us.”
The defendants aren’t all eager to get their day in court. Harry Dunn, a U.S. Capitol Police officer who defended the Capitol against physical assault and racial epithets on January 6th, is expected to testify in trials involving higher-ranking defendants.
Dunn said that his fellow officers want justice to be served and they are understanding the reasons for the delays. Dunn stated, “It’s well worth the wait.” “You have to be patient.”
Guy Reffitt, Texas, will be the first one to face trial. Reffitt pleaded not guilty to a number of federal charges. Reffitt is charged with carrying a firearm in the midst of a mob that confronted police officers on January 6. If the court doesn’t extend its closure for all in-person operations beyond February 7, the trial will begin on February 28th at 9 a.m.