The Proud Boys accused of seditious conspiracy in the January 6th attack have requested a dismissal of their case based on the notion that the conspiring took place outside D.C. and therefore cannot be tried in the Capitol, but a judge responded on Monday to assure that the law is on prosecutors’ side and the case can continue.
A group of Proud Boys members — Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl, Enrique Tarrio, and Dominic Pezzola — have been charged with a long list of crimes in regard to their actions on, and leading up to, January 6th, including seditious conspiracy, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging duties, destruction of government property, and assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers.
However, of these and others, it’s the charges alleging conspiracy that the group focused on in a filing that was rejected on Monday.
Proud Boys argued that the three charges alleging conspiracy should be dismissed, because, unlike the destruction of property, obstruction of a proceeding, and assaulting and/or obstruction of officers, the conspiring didn’t take place in D.C., and therefore can’t be tried in the Capitol. United States District Judge Timothy Kelly disagreed.
In short, his explanation is that a conspiracy charge can be tried in the venue where the actions in the conspiracy were carried out — not just where the conspiring took place — and, that conspiracies are “continuing offenses,” which don’t have a marked end when the conspirators shift from planning to carrying out the intended action.
From his ruling, shared by the Daily Kos:
Defendants are incorrect. Conspiracies are continuing offenses, and the Supreme Court has long held that venue is proper in any district in which an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy was committed…
While Judge Kelly ruled, in essence, that the act of conspiring did not have to take place in D.C. for the Capitol to be a proper venue for the charges, the indictment actually suggests that at least some conspiring was done in D.C.:
TARRIO did not immediately comply with the order to leave the District of Columbia. After being turned away from the Phoenix Park Hotel, TARRIO travelled to a nearby underground parking garage, where he met with Elmer Stewart Rhodes III, the founder and leader of the Oath Keepers, and other individuals known and unknown to the grand jury, for approximately 30 minutes. During this encounter, a participant referenced the Capitol.
Another Proud Boys member, Jeremy Bertino, who led a North Carolina chapter of the extremist group, has already pled guilty to seditious conspiracy, Politico reported last month, and has shared information with prosecutors and the January 6th Committee.
Steph Bazzle covers politics and theocracy, always aiming for a world free from extremism and authoritarianism. Follow Steph on Twitter @imjustasteph.