US Supreme Court torpedoes one of the charges brought against Capitol rioters

The file was submitted to the Sages by the lawyers of Joseph Fischer, “one of approximately 300 people charged by the Justice Department with ‘obstructing an official proceeding’ during the January 6, 2021 riots at the Capitol”, observed Fox News. According to his advice, the federal law providing for this charge “should not apply” because it was only used in the “evidence tampering cases”adds the conservative channel.

The charge “carries a maximum sentence of 20 years (in prison) and is part of a law passed after revelations of massive fraud and document destruction during the collapse of energy giant Enron”, remember the Washington Post.

Six of the nine Supreme Court justices — five conservatives and one progressive — ruled that the criteria were not met to use the law in the proceedings against the Capitol rioters. Because to rely on it, the prosecution must “establish that the defendant compromised the availability or integrity of records, documents or objects intended for use in an official proceeding”argued Chief Justice John Roberts.

Limited consequences

“Supreme Court decision could affect ongoing lawsuits” but also “disrupt cases that have already been adjudicated, since those who have been convicted of violating the obstruction law or who have pleaded guilty could seek a review of their conviction, withdraw their guilty pleas or request a new trial”, note CBS News.

“There are fifty-two cases in which an accused has been convicted and sentenced” for the sole offence of obstructing an official procedure, the American channel points out. Among them, “twenty-seven are currently incarcerated”.

Justice Minister Merrick Garland deplored the Supreme Court’s decision, which he said hampers the government’s efforts to hold the main perpetrators of the Capitol assault to account, “an unprecedented attack on our institutional system”.

However, he believes that the consequences for prosecutions will be limited: of more than 1,400 people charged for their participation in the riots, less than 18% were prosecuted or convicted of the charge of obstructing an official procedure.

“New triumph for Trump”

One of them is none other than former President Donald Trump, “prosecuted for this offense in the case over his own attempt to overturn the outcome of the election”, REMARK El País. “Trump did not directly participate in the storming of the Capitol, but his attempts to obstruct the official process of declaring Biden’s election victory were carried out by other means.”adds the Spanish daily.

The Supreme Court’s decision should allow its lawyers to overturn “two of four” charges for which he is being prosecuted. “After Thursday’s debate in Atlanta”it is therefore “A new triumph for Trump”who is also awaiting the decision of the Sages on his presidential immunity, points to the Madrid title.

The Supreme Court, however, showed no leniency towards the former president’s eminence grise: “Steve Bannon will have to report to prison on Monday (July 1), after the country’s highest court refused to grant his last-minute request for a stay of execution,” reports The Daily Beast.

The 70-year-old right-wing populist ideologue, “was sentenced to four months in prison in 2022 for contempt of Congress, after he refused a subpoena from the House committee investigating the Capitol assault”recalls the site.

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