Federal prosecutors contradict Gravette man’s argument that he can’t get a fair trial because of Capitol Riot publicity

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A Gravette man has failed to establish that he “cannot obtain a fair and impartial trial” in the District of Columbia or elsewhere, according to federal prosecutors.

They filed a response Thursday night to a Sept. 23 petition from Richard “Bigo” Barnett saying his Capitol riot case should be dismissed because President Joe Biden and the Jan. 6 congressional committee “intentionally and irretrievably poisoned the jury” overall. United States.

Barnett, 62, faces criminal charges for bringing a dangerous weapon – a stun gun – into the US Capitol during the riot. He became widely known after photographs circulated of him sitting with his foot propped up on a desk in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office suite. In a court filing, Barnett’s attorney, Joseph D. McBride, said his client had become “the most iconic face of the January 6 defendants.”

The Jan. 6 riot escalated into a ‘Stop the Steal’ rally in which some supporters of then-President Donald Trump entered the Capitol and tried to block Congress from certifying the vote of the electoral college indicating that Joe Biden had won the presidential election.

If the charges against Barnett are not dismissed, he has also requested that his Dec. 12 trial be moved to the Western District of Arkansas, which is “the only place where he has a chance of selecting a fair and impartial jury. of his peers,” according to the petition filed last month by McBride.

“Mr. Barnett respectfully submits that President Biden’s continued defamatory statements about the January 6 Defendants and the MAGA Republicans, in conjunction with the actions of the January 6 Committee, have caused him prejudice to the extent that the dismissal of his indictment is warranted,” McBride wrote, citing a speech Biden gave on September 1.

Federal prosecutors disagree.

“Defendant moves to dismiss the indictment in light of the President of the United States’ nationally televised remarks on September 1, 2022, arguing that those remarks ‘are akin to an order for DC juries. to find the defendants guilty of all charges because they are insurgents and terrorists,” according to the 36-page filing by three assistant U.S. attorneys, Mary L. Dohrmann, Alison B. Prout and Nathaniel K. Whitesel. “Defendant further asserts that statements made public by members of the United States House of Representatives select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol (the “Select Committee”) ) “reflected these remarks.” The defendant’s attempt to dismiss the indictment on this basis fails for several reasons.

“To begin with, the defendant cites no authority for the proposition that pretrial publicity may disqualify all potential jurors in each of the judicial districts of the United States and, therefore, prevent a defendant from being tried without anywhere for his crimes.

“In addition to having no legal support, the defendant’s argument rests on the incorrect factual assumption that the president’s remarks not only achieved, but also instilled a commitment to ‘overturn the jury nullification.’ in every eligible juror in a country of more than 330 million people.”

It should be noted, they wrote, that Barnett himself had generated significant publicity before the trial.

They cite an April 29, 2021 interview Barnett and McBride did with NewsMax, which remains available on YouTube, and a July 22 appearance they did on One America News, in which Barnett said he saw Capitol police. attack “innocent protesters”.

“It would be a perverse outcome to dismiss (or transfer) the defendant’s case following publicity, when he himself actively fanned this flame,” prosecutors wrote.

Regarding the change of venue, Article III of the Constitution provides that “the trial of all crimes … shall take place in the state in which said crimes were committed,” according to Thursday’s court filing. The Sixth Amendment similarly guarantees the right to be tried “by an impartial jury of the state and district in which the crime was committed.”

Transfer to another location is only constitutionally required when “extraordinary local harm will prevent a fair trial,” they wrote, citing case law.

“The DC Circuit felt that even a change of venue was unnecessary in the cases arising from the Watergate scandal, even though some of the publicity was ‘hostile in tone and accusatory in content,’” according to Thursday’s filing. .

“Courts have even refused to transfer the location – let alone dismiss the charges – in some of the most high-profile prosecutions in recent American history,” prosecutors wrote.

They cite the capital lawsuit of the Boston Marathon suicide bomber, the fraud trial of the CEO of Enron Corporation, the trial of a participant in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and the terrorism lawsuit. of a conspirator in the attacks of September 11, 2001.

In the Oklahoma City bombing case, which involved an act of domestic terrorism that killed 169 people, the district court transferred the location to a neighboring state, but it did not entirely dismiss the indictment, they wrote.

“The defendant does not explain how the president’s remarks make his case more difficult to obtain an impartial jury than other high-profile cases involving acts of violence,” according to Thursday’s filing. “Furthermore, the defendant underestimates the important role of the voir dire in the selection of an impartial jury.”

Voir dire is a preliminary examination to determine the competence of a witness or juror.

In his Sept. 23 petition, McBride noted that Barnett was not involved in any acts of violence at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

In Thursday’s filing, prosecutors noted that Barnett sounded threatening when he spoke to Capitol police after realizing he had left his American flag in Pelosi’s office.

“After leaving the building, while still on Capitol grounds, the defendant approached a line of police and shouted, ‘We are American citizens, we are patriots. Your boys slaughtered me. This is my house, you all slaughtered me in my own house. It’s going to get really bad, not necessarily today, we’re going to calm down and go, but you all have to remember something. You all have to choose a f****** side. This civilian war isn’t ‘oh, somebody broke the law’ — the fucking communists declared war on us, guys.'”

Besides Barnett, Peter Francis Stager, 43, of Conway also faces felony charges in connection with the riot. Stager remains in the District of Columbia Jail. He is the only Jan. 6 defendant from Arkansas still incarcerated.

Jon Thomas Mott, 39, of Yellville is facing misdemeanor charges in connection with the Jan. 6 violation.

All three pleaded innocent.

Robert Thomas Snow, 78, of Heber Springs, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of “marching, demonstrating, or picketing the capitol building.” He was sentenced to probation and community service.

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