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Appeals Court Calls Into Question Hundreds of January 6 Prosecutions

There has been a major development in the case of the J6 defendants. Although the three-judge panel voted two to one to allow cases with obstruction charges to go through, there is a major question on how prosecutors are defining “corrupt intent.” All three judges agreed on this. Any rioter who attacked police officers will not be affected by this but hundreds of other defendants could see a major change in the depositions in their cases.

Why is this so significant? Because the prosecutors have tacked this charge onto almost everyone who was at the Capitol, but caused no violence or interfered with the House. It makes the difference between a misdemeanor and a possible twenty years in prison. If the court decides that the prosecutors are overcharging defendants maliciously, they could have to go before the bar for disciplinary action. And those who have been convicted would have their cases reviewed and could see the convictions overturned.

Furthermore, those who have not been tried yet would see those charges dismissed before their cases go to court. This would affect up to 300 of the defendants who are charged with “corrupt intent.”


At the heart of the conflict is how to measure whether Jan. 6 rioters acted with “corrupt intent,” a central element in the crime of obstructing an official proceeding. The judges noted that the requirement of “corrupt intent” was meant to avoid inadvertently criminalizing traditional protest or lobbying activities that have been a feature of civic engagement throughout American history. Any decision on the meaning of corrupt intent would have to separate those legitimate activities from potential criminal conduct.

But Judge Florence Pan, who wrote the majority opinion, said it was the wrong time to decide that broad question because the three defendants whose cases were before the court were all also charged with assaulting police. There’s little question that those who assaulted police that day acted with “corrupt intent.” But in Jan. 6 obstruction cases that don’t involve assault, determining “corrupt intent” is much more complicated, she said.

From PJ Media

What’s still to be decided is whether or not about 300 rioters acted with “corrupt intent” in invading the Capitol building during an official proceeding. And all three appeals court judges questioned whether the prosecution had interpreted “corrupt intent” on the part of the rioters correctly.

What seems esoteric in nature is actually crucial to the defense of hundreds of January 6 rioters. The “corrupt intent” standard does not apply to those rioters who are also charged with assaulting police. But for those defendants who are charged only with obstructing Congress, how that term is defined could mean liberty or 20 years in prison.

“It is more prudent to delay addressing the meaning of ‘corrupt’ intent until that issue is properly presented to the court,” the Biden-appointed judge wrote.

The immediate effect of the ruling was a reversal of a decision by U.S. District Court Judge Carl Nichols, who determined that obstruction charges were being improperly applied to the January 6 defendants. The appeals court disagreed only because the corrupt intent standard had not been defined.

The stakes for the Justice Department and many January 6 defendants are enormous. In fact, the entire theory the DOJ has been using to prosecute all but a handful of defendants may be blown up by a different interpretation of corrupt intent.

“A defendant must intend to obtain a benefit that he knows is unlawful,” Walker concluded.

Defense attorneys for Jan. 6 defendants are already poring over Walker’s analysis. Nicholas Smith, who argued the case on behalf of three Jan. 6 defendants before the appeals court panel in December, said that if Walker’s contention is correct, his narrow definition of “corrupt intent” is already the binding opinion of the court.




5 Responses

  1. I am ashamed and shocked that all these people, many who were arrested without cause and the whole batch treated as though they all committed the exact same crime, have sat in jail for three years now without being charged. This was a political “dirty trick” of a scope never before seen, hatched and executed with bad intent to paint the conservative protesters as if they were guilty of treasonous acts. They should all be freed and compensated like the Philly rioters were but should be paid more because they are innocent and were incarcerated so long. Remember that Chuck Schumer insisted” She (Nancy) set him (Trump) up so that I could go in for the kill”. We are now learning about the set up!

  2. Free the Jan 6th defendants. The only “corrupt intent” is the malicious prosecution of same.

  3. How do they get around the videos we have seen of the police officers holding the doors open and waving the “protestors” into the building?

  4. “U.S. District Court Judge Carl Nichols, determined that obstruction charges were being improperly applied to the January 6 defendants. The appeals court disagreed only because the corrupt intent standard had not been defined.” Who will “define” it – those who put Trump supporters in jail in the first place? Imagine spending 3 years in DC Gulag & 20 years in prison for lack of a definitive word play?
    “Prosecutors tacked this charge onto almost everyone (as they were told to do, being as corrupt as they are) who was at the Capitol but caused no violence or interfered with the House. It makes the difference between a misdemeanor & a possible 20 years in prison” Which is where the prosecutors want them in the first place – in jail until after 2024 presidential election. To prevent Trump’s supporters from supporting him. It’s beyond the level of corruption & into the realm of traitors.

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