Proud Boy Says Feds Should Drop Charges Because ‘Official Proceeding’ Wasn’t Interrupted by Capitol Riots
A man facing federal charges for his alleged role in the storming of the United States Capitol on January 6 claims the charges should be dismissed since Congress confirming President Joe Biden’s election victory was not a “official action.”
Ethan Nordean was detained in early February for his alleged offenses, and a federal grand jury indicted him the following month. He was charged with conspiracy, obstructing or impeding an official proceeding, aiding and abetting injury or depredation of federal property, knowingly entering or remaining in a prohibited facility or grounds, and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, among other things.
Nordean has pleaded not guilty to the allegations, and if convicted on all counts, he could face a maximum combined jail sentence of more than three decades. After the Capitol was breached on January 6, multiple images and videos appear to show him both outside and inside the building. Nordean, also known by the moniker Rufio Panman, is a major leader of the Proud Boys, a far-right extremist group in Washington state.
According to The Seattle Times, attorney Nicholas Smith argued in court on Tuesday that charges against Nordean and three co-defendants, all of whom are also Proud Boys leaders, should be dismissed because the joint session of Congress meeting to certify the 2020 presidential election results as rioters breached the Capitol was not a “official proceeding.” According to case law, an official procedure must include an investigation or truth-finding inquiry, according to Smith.
Nordean’s attorney reportedly argued that the prosecution faced a “massive presentment problem,” while Special Assistant U.S. Attorney James I. Pearce countered that Congress was clearly involved in an official proceeding, as evidenced by “a presiding official givingling in” the joint session of elected officials.
Norden and his co-defendants, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl, and Charles Donohoe, are currently awaiting trial in federal detention. During Tuesday’s hearing, U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly set a tentative trial date of May 18, 2022. According to Reuters, the judge said in conversations with defense attorneys that the trial may span four to six weeks.
The men’s lawyers have already tried unsuccessfully to get them released on bond before their trial. Smith is said to have argued. This is a condensed version of the information.