‘Cowboys for Trump’ founder case on January 6 highlights challenges prosecutors face

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Griffin’s attorneys argued his case was one of the simplest to emerge from the Jan. 6 investigation, and it shouldn’t take prosecutors several months to share relevant evidence and prepare the case for trial. . But prosecutors face competing pressures: their obligation to hand over a comprehensive database of evidence to all defendants of the Capitol riots while ensuring their right to a speedy trial.

“Thousands of people were recording events on their phones and uploading them to social media. Each of these phones with a search warrant must be searched and explored, ”said U.S. Assistant Prosecutor Emily Miller, the Department of Justice’s resource person to coordinate the delivery of evidence of the Capitol riots to US attorneys. defense. “There are going to be a lot of videos that have to be dealt with in this case for months to come.”

Griffin’s case presents a confluence of challenges for prosecutors and judges in Washington as they grapple with the size and complexity of the Jan. 6 investigation. Courts are already facing trial backlogs due to delays caused by the Covid pandemic, and prosecutors have described the Jan. 6 investigation as the most complex in U.S. history, requiring intense resources to dealing with an ever-growing mountain of evidence.

Prosecutors are also under pressure from judges to prioritize gathering evidence for the dozens of Capitol Hill riot defendants being held awaiting trial, most facing assault or conspiracy charges. .

McFadden said he understood the concerns raised by the Justice Department and Griffin, and he said the process of organizing the evidence in the cases took longer than expected. He said a mid-March trial date was the first he could set given the backlog resulting from Covid delays, even though Griffin waived his right to be tried by a jury, leaving his fate to the judge.

“I understand your frustration,” said Griffin McFadden, a person appointed by President Donald Trump. “But we are where we are.”

Griffin noted that he was the subject of a recall effort in New Mexico based on allegations he broke the law on Jan.6. noted. “The media can just keep on destroying me and tearing me to shreds about this.”

But McFadden said there was no doubt prosecutors, who opposed setting a trial date in the case, faced a complicated situation. “You were involved in an event involving hundreds, if not thousands of people,” he told Griffin.

Griffin, through his attorneys Nicholas and David Smith, is also pressuring prosecutors to hand over videos allegedly showing Capitol Hill police officers removing barriers and waving to members of the Jan.6 crowd. These videos, accompanying written reports of the misconduct allegations leaked by the department earlier this month, will likely become crucial evidence for Jan. 6 defense teams who say their clients thought they were allowed in. in the building.

Most of the 38 misconduct reports collected by Capitol Police were found to be unfounded by internal investigators, and Miller said prosecutors feared the substance of those reports could be used for “misinformation” or to harass individuals. individual agents. But she added that prosecutors plan to turn over all of those video exhibits as soon as they are able to convert the video into a usable format, a process they plan to take at least another week.

Prosecutors are already processing thousands of hours of Capitol Hill surveillance footage and body cameras from the DC Metropolitan Police and other local agencies that responded to the riot.

But Miller also bristled that it’s prosecutors’ job to study every minute of footage from every phone, surveillance camera or police camera and decide which is relevant to each accused. She said the complexity of browsing the footage while constantly adding new evidence could force the government to seek to delay even the March 2022 trial date.

“There are too many unknowns,” she said.


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