New Verdict in Capitol Riot Case Throws a Wrench Into Political Narrative

AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

A federal defense contractor who had been charged with four misdemeanors for walking into the Capitol on Jan. 6, fought the charges and was acquitted on all counts today by Judge Trevor McFadden. Matthew Martin was charged with: entering and remaining in a restricted building, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building, violent entry and disorderly conduct in a Capitol building, as well as parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building.

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But Martin didn’t commit any violence or break into the building. He argued that he believed that the Capitol Police had allowed him into the building, and he just walked in.

From Politico:

McFadden said that, based on video of the scene, that assertion was at least “plausible” and that prosecutors failed to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

“People were streaming by and the officers made no attempt to stop the people,” said the judge [….]

“I do think the defendant reasonably believed the officers allowed him into the Capitol,” the judge said.

McFadden said that the government did not show any evidence of Martin crossing police lines, and that Martin’s “conduct was about as minimal….as I can imagine.”

This is a significant verdict. While some are charged with more serious offenses, many of the people charged for Jan. 6 offenses are in a similar position to Martin — they didn’t do much beyond walk into the building. Some have argued — as Martin did — that the police let them in.

McFadden has pointed out disparities in the way Jan. 6 defendants have been treated in the past. He said that he thinks there is a difference in the way that the prosecutors are handling the Jan. 6 cases versus cases in the past (that may have involved leftist protesters).

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“It does feel like the government has had two standards here, and I can’t abide by that,” McFadden said. The judge added that before Jan. 6, 2021, he could not remember seeing a nonviolent, first-time misdemeanant “sentenced to serious jail time … regardless of their race, gender or political affiliation.”

But in the case of Jenny Cudd, McFadden said the prosecution had asked for 75 days in jail for misdemeanor trespassing on Jan. 6. But meanwhile, the judge noted the same prosecutors’ office asked for 10 days in jail in the case of a repeat offender activist Tighe Barry connected to the left-wing group Code Pink.

The judge said that the same prosecutor’s office in 2019 sought 10 days behind bars for Barry, who stood on a chair, held up a poster, and shouted at senators from the back row in one of Kavanaugh’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearings in September 2018, and returned to protest three weeks later in violation of a stay-away order.

“The government’s sentencing recommendation here is just so disproportionate to other sentences for people who have engaged in similar conduct,” said McFadden, who added that Barry, a frequent demonstrator with 14 prior arrests, had accidentally knocked a chair into a bystander when Capitol Police arrested him. “I don’t believe in some sort of aggregate justice.”

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We’ve seen another judge question the treatment of Jan. 6 defendants in the past.

McFadden’s decision, in this case, is likely to throw a wrench into the political narrative about the riot — and it’s already causing some on the left to melt down.

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