Mehta emphasised that his considerations have been largely concerning the three Oath Keepers — Jessica Watkins, Kelly Meggs and Kenneth Harrelson — who’ve already been detained for months and face the prospect of a for much longer detention.
“I’m involved a couple of prolonged pretrial detention interval,” Mehta mentioned, including that the Justice Division doesn’t want to show over each shred of proof it uncovers earlier than starting a trial — solely these related to the particular defendants within the Oath Keepers case.
“In any other case,” he mentioned, “we can’t be having a trial in any of those circumstances till 2023. I simply do not suppose that is acceptable to these being held.”
Regardless of his considerations, Mehta appeared able to relent after listening to from attorneys for the Justice Division and defendants, a lot of whom mentioned they needed time to comb via the proof of their purchasers’ circumstances. He famous that he’s been planning to separate the case into two separate trials, and urged the events to pencil in April and July for the beginning of every.
That timetable would additionally make sure that one of many highest-profile circumstances to emerge from the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol generates important consideration within the months main as much as the 2022 congressional elections, when Democrats intend to spotlight the breach as an argument in opposition to extremism within the Republican Get together.
Two of the 18 Oath Keepers charged as a part of the conspiracy — Jason Dolan and Graydon Younger — have already pleaded responsible, and if others observe swimsuit, it might change the equation.
Nonetheless, the episode highlights an growing pressure for the Justice Division because it continues to analyze what it calls the most important and most advanced case within the historical past of the nation. Defendants have a constitutional proper to a speedy trial, however they’re additionally entitled to see all of the proof the federal government collects that may be exculpatory. With 600 defendants and counting charged within the chaotic mob that stormed Congress, that mountain of proof grows day by day.
Complicating issues even additional are the continuing Covid-related restrictions governing trials within the federal courthouse close to the Capitol. Mehta mentioned that the sheer dimension of the Oath Keepers case, which incorporates 18 alleged conspirators and should develop much more, would successfully forestall some other trials from commencing because the deliberate Oath Keepers trials play out — assuming virus-related limits stay in place.
The Oath Keepers case is among the many most vital to come up from the Capitol riot. Leaders of the anti-government militia are charged with conspiring to hinder Congress’ effort to certify Joe Biden’s victory within the 2020 election. A few dozen entered the Capitol in military-style “stack” formation, and Meggs — one of many three detainees — texted associates that he was attempting to find Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Greater than 80 Capitol riot defendants have already or are scheduled to simply accept responsible pleas, primarily in lower-level misdemeanor circumstances as prosecutors start clearing most of the easier circumstances from the courtroom’s docket. However in additional sophisticated conspiracy circumstances like these dealing with the Oath Keepers and members of the Proud Boys management, the investigation remains to be ongoing.
Rakoczy emphasised that counsel for most of the Oath Keeper defendants agrees with the necessity to delay the trial as they search to acquire extra proof that might assist their case. And protection attorneys backed up her level, saying that they don’t consider they will assessment and synthesize the proof within the case in time for a January trial.
Mehta mentioned that if the Justice Division needed to rethink its request to detain the three Oath Keeper defendants earlier than trial, it would alleviate the strain to keep up a fast trial date.