The Supreme Court is about to decide on a case that might erase Capitol riot charges for hundreds, including Trump

The Supreme Court announced on Wednesday that it will consider an appeal that could overturn hundreds of charges related to the Capitol riot, including those brought against former President Donald Trump.

The justices will consider an appeals court decision that reinstated a charge against three defendants accused of obstructing an official proceeding. The accusation alludes to the disruption of Congress’ certification of Joe Biden’s victory against Trump in the 2020 presidential election.

This is one of four accusations made against Trump in special counsel Jack Smith’s lawsuit, which accuses Trump of attempting to change the results of his election loss in 2024. Trump is also accused of obstructing an official proceeding.

The court’s ruling on the obstruction accusation could jeopardize the start of Trump’s trial, which is presently slated for March 4. Separately, the justices are debating whether to rule fast on Trump’s contention that he cannot be indicted for activities made in his capacity as president. That argument has previously been rejected by a federal judge.

The Supreme Court is about to decide on a case that might erase Capitol riot charges for hundreds, including Trump

What you should know

  • The Supreme Court’s decision to hear the obstruction case linked to the Capitol incident could jeopardize Trump’s March 4 trial.
  • The obstruction accusation has been filed against over 300 defendants in the huge federal case that follows the tragic insurgency on January 6, 2021.
  • This is not the only legal issue that the former president is facing. Consider some of the other charges.
  • Trump’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment on the Supreme Court’s decision to hear the case.

Arguments will be heard by the Supreme Court in March or April, with a ruling expected in early summer.

The obstruction charge, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, has been filed against more than 300 defendants and is one of the most commonly used felony charges in the massive federal prosecution that followed the deadly insurgency on Jan. 6, 2021, when a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in an attempt to prevent Biden, a Democrat, from taking the White House.

According to an Associated Press assessment of court records, at least 152 people have been convicted at trial or pleaded guilty to impeding an official procedure, and at least 108 of them have been sentenced.

A lower court judge had dropped the indictment against Joseph Fischer, a former Pennsylvania police officer, and two other defendants, claiming that it did not apply to their actions. The judges agreed to consider Fischer’s appeal, which was submitted by his lawyers. Fischer is facing a seven-count indictment for his activities on Jan. 6, including obstruction.

The Supreme Court is about to decide on a case that might erase Capitol riot charges for hundreds, including Trump

Edward Jacob Lang of New York’s Hudson Valley and Garret Miller, who pleaded guilty to other offenses and was sentenced to 38 months in jail, are the other defendants. Miller, who is from the Dallas area, might still face obstruction charges.

U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols determined that prosecutors stretched the legislation beyond its intended scope in these cases. According to Nichols, a defendant must have done “some action with respect to a document, record, or other object” in order to obstruct an official proceeding under the statute.

The Justice Department appealed that ruling, and in April, a federal appeals court in Washington agreed with prosecutors that Nichols’ interpretation of the law was too narrow.

Other defendants, including Trump, are appealing the accusation independently.

If the Supreme Court rules in their favor, defense attorney Kira Anne West, who has represented multiple Jan. 6 defendants charged with obstruction of an official proceeding, says the courts will have to “undo a whole bunch of cases” and revise many sentences.

“This is a watershed day,” she declared. “In our world — defense lawyer world — this is huge.”

West is representing a man who is slated to stand trial in early January on a variety of counts, including obstruction. She has not decided whether she will seek a stay until the Supreme Court resolves the challenge.

More than 1,200 persons have been charged with federal charges related to the incident, and over 700 have pled guilty.

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