Judge Holds Authorities in Contempt for Violating Civil Rights of Jan. 6 Defendant

AP Photo/Julio Cortez

There have been a lot of reports about alleged mistreatment of Jan. 6 defendants.

Now a federal judge has held D.C. Corrections officials in contempt over the treatment of one of the defendants and is referred the case to the DOJ for a civil rights investigation into reports about the treatment of other defendants.

U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth found D.C Jail Warden Wanda Patten and Quincy Booth, the director of the D.C. Department of Corrections, in contempt for the long delay in failing to turn over medical record needed to approve a needed operation for defendant Christopher Worrell.

Worrell has non-Hodgkins lymphoma and had broken his hand in May while in custody. He was supposed to get orthopedic surgery on his hand, but the Department of Corrections refused to turn over the necessary medical corrections so he could get the records. His attorney claimed they did little more than treat him with Tylenol. Apparently, they even blew off the court’s demand that they produce the records, and that’s why Lamberth found them in contempt.

While Lamberth didn’t impose any contempt sanctions, he did find that the defendant’s civil rights had been abused and made it clear that he thought that this wasn’t just incompetence.

“It is more than just inept and bureaucratic shuffling of papers,” U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth said. He added:

“I find that the civil rights of the defendant have been abused,” Lamberth, who was appointed by former President Reagan, said at a hearing Wednesday morning, according to The Washington Post. “I don’t know if it’s because he’s a January 6th defendant or not, but I find this matter should be referred to the attorney general of the United States for a civil rights investigation into whether the D.C. Department of Corrections is violating the civil rights of January 6th defendants … in this and maybe other cases.”

Lamberth has also found other problems with the treatment of defendants.

The judge had separately chastised city officials for cutting down the number of rooms in the jail for virtual court visits and for sending an inmate to his court a few weeks ago when they did not have the results of a coronavirus test, saying the “incompetence of jail officials” led to the prisoner being sent back and forth from court without appearing before the judge.

Supporters of those jailed in Washington held a rally on Sept. 18, where they sought to highlight what they said were the disturbing treatment of suspects behind bars there.

Now, it’s good that he’s finally put this on the record. This may finally result in some more positive action for defendants, some of whom have been denied bond or reportedly faced other questionable treatment. It’s very rarely done, which says something about how bad the judge must have thought the situation had gotten.

As we reported, by comparison with the BLM/Antifa folks the treatment has been far harsher — and that’s a fundamental problem with either case is true: that the folks on the left are getting off easier because of their politics, or the the people on the right are being treated more harshly. Unfortunately, in this case, both do appear true.

But if the judge puts no sanctions on them, there’s no punishment for this horrible treatment which borders on cruel and unusual punishment, in addition to a denial of Worrell’s civil rights. There’s no great incentive not to continue to keep violating the rights of Worrell or other defendants.