General Question

seawulf575's avatar

What are your thoughts on the ruling of Fischer v US Government by the SCOTUS today?

Asked by seawulf575 (16870points) 3 weeks ago

The SCOTUS just ruled that the statute used by the J6 committee to charge a large number of J6 protesters, 18 USC 1512, which made many of the charges felonies, was used improperly and it does not apply to the protesters as the law was created to preserve evidence in support of investigations. Since none of the protesters did anything with evidence, it didn’t apply.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=riVl2LX_o9Y

The implication is that all persons associated with the J6 protests that were charged under this statute were charged erroneously. This includes former POTUS Trump.

The SCOTUS vote was split, 6–3 with Justices Barrett, Kagan, and Sotomayor dissenting.

On a side note, irony lifted its ugly head. When the J6 committee had to turn over control of the committee to the Repubs in the house, they deleted a whole lot of evidence they had collected. To me, this is a direct violation of the same statute the J6 was trying to use against protesters. Your thoughts?

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15 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

Your summary is not accurate. The J6 Committee did not charge anyone, the DoJ prosecuted the rioters.

Interesting history n the case: the first judge ruled the charges were incorrect; the charges were reinstated on appeal, and that ruling is what SCOTUS overturned.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
seawulf575's avatar

@zenvelo you are correct, the DoJ did the prosecution, with the input from the J6 committee. Either way, the J6 committee violated the exact same statute.

Caravanfan's avatar

I do not know the ins and outs of the law in question. But as far as I can tell from my limited knowledge I am okay with the ruling. Despite the fact that the Jan 6 people were vandals, assholes, and violent to some people I don’t think they deserve 20 year prison term, which is apparently what they could have faced.

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t really understand the evidence part.

The video mentioned the false electors, that to me is so incredibly horrible posing as an elector they should be found guilty of something and at minimum be tried on something so hopefully at minimum they were very fucking nervous for a while about what might happen to them. They are associated with the people who accuse the vote of being illegitimate when they are the fakes trying to illegally change the vote. It is so disgusting.

It seems to me the Jan 6 people who destroyed property, threatened people, attacked people, and who were in on the planning of breaching the Capitol, and hunting down Pelosi and Pence, all committed plenty of crimes even if this one count is now reversed due to the Supreme Court’s ruling. My GUESS is the worst of the worst of the rioters on that day deserved jail time and were given jail time for more than one offense.

Maybe now some longer sentences will be reduced to time served.

So, the big question in my mind is, how many Jan 6ers found guilty on that count were only found guilty of that one thing?

seawulf575's avatar

@JLeslie The other question I have is how many of the J6ers were found guilty of felony counts because of that charge? Would trespassing have been a misdemeanor but when this other charge was added it suddenly turned into a felony? This ruling could have some repercussions that will be interesting to watch.

JLeslie's avatar

@seawulf575 I think probably some of the other charges were just misdemeanors, but some people probably had other felony charges. It’s a good question. I actually heard some stats on TV about it late last night after I wrote my answer. They were talking about how many J6ers had only that one charge and how many had multiple charges against them, but I don’t think it mentioned if the other charges were felonies or not. If I heard it correctly (I was trying to fall asleep with my eyes closed) most of the people brought up on charges had multiple offenses.

seawulf575's avatar

@JLeslie This looks like a searchable database for the J6 protesters arrested

https://www.npr.org/2021/02/09/965472049/the-capitol-siege-the-arrested-and-their-stories

It’s interesting that I did a search for the obstruction of an official proceeding and found one guy, Tommy Frederick Allen, who was charged with 7 violations, plead guilty to the one and had all the others dropped. the one was the one the SCOTUS just said shouldn’t have been a charge. So how is this case dealt with? If he took a plea deal to get all the charges dropped and now it looks like the one charge is moot, does he just get let off? Do they try him again for the charges that were dropped? And if he is let off, does that mean he was held illegally? From a strictly legal aspect this entire thing is going to be a mess.

seawulf575's avatar

@JLeslie You had mentioned you didn’t understand the evidence piece. Here is a link to a description of the statute that just got voided

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/1512

Many of the protesters were being charged under 18 USC 1512( C ) which says:

”(c)Whoever corruptly—
alters, destroys, mutilates, or conceals a record, document, or other object, or attempts to do so, with the intent to impair the object’s integrity or availability for use in an official proceeding; or
otherwise obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding, or attempts to do so,
shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.”

This law was generated after the Enron scandal where they destroyed evidence so the feds couldn’t get it to use as evidence against them. The J6 committee tried shoe-horning this in because of (C )(2)...the statement about obstructing or impeding any official proceeding. The ruling the SCOTUS just gave is that this law was never intended to be used in cases like this…it was really generated to prevent evidence tampering being used as a way of impeding or obstructing investigations.

My comment about the J6 Committee is that if you read ( C )(1), it pretty much describes what they did before turning over all the evidence to the incoming Republican House. Additionally, if it was ruled that this law did apply to the J6 defendants, that raises the ugly question about why Rep Bowman (D-NY) wasn’t arrested and charged with it when he pulled the fire alarm to avoid a vote the Dems didn’t want? Everything about this law being used as it was pointed to something wrong.

JLeslie's avatar

@seawulf575 I think the plea deal you spoke of the guy just gets off altogether at this point.

seawulf575's avatar

@JLeslie Probably. But there are several hundred cases just like that. All of them are going to have to be amended or retried. Imagine the snarl of bureaucracy that is now created!

JLeslie's avatar

^^Retried why?

You’ll be interested in this article. https://www.npr.org/2024/06/14/nx-s1-5005999/supreme-court-jan-6-prosecutions

Some stats and talks about the plea bargins.

seawulf575's avatar

@JLeslie Why retry? Read your citation. It explains it pretty well. The statute that got vacated was not always, in fact almost never, the only charge against the protesters. But with a charge like that, it is possible that they could have been convicted and sentenced improperly. If the summation of the charges played into sentencing, then the entire sentencing would have to be re-done. Your article even points out that this charge was used because it allowed a 20 year maximum sentence and could/was used as a cudgel to get people to take guilty pleas. So every plea bargain would likely have to be revisited, the people would likely have to go back to court on the lesser charges which might not have enough weight to get a conviction.

Basically, vacating this as a potential crime (and actually it was two crimes) casts a doubt on every aspect of the trials against these folks. That isn’t to say they are innocent or that no one broke the law, but it brings into question how they were viewed by a jury, how stiff the sentences were, etc.

JLeslie's avatar

@seawulf575 I would think that the need go address the sentencing not retry the cases. If they are guilty of other crimes they are still guilty. I assume (I don’t know) that sentencing is recorded for each guilty charge and the judge decides if the sentences are going to be served concurrently or not. That would all still stand, wouldn’t it?

seawulf575's avatar

It is possible that the sentencing is all that would have to happen. But it would still have to happen. It is another hearing. But, again, if you were on a jury and you were hearing a case against a defendant who was charged with trespassing, unlawful protesting, disorderly conduct AND Felony Obstruction of an official proceeding AND Corruptly Alerting, Destroying, Mutilating, or Concealing a Record, Document, or Other Object; you are going to view this guy far worse than if it was just the first 3 cases. And likely the penalties would be a lot less if it was just the first 3.

So the defense attorneys will be able to likely push for a new trial and/or to drop all sentencing for time served.

All this is speculation, but the fact that we can speculate shows what a shit show it all is.

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