Federal Appeals Court Rules Some Jan. 6 Protesters ‘Improperly’ Sentenced

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A federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., made a significant ruling on Friday that could impact numerous individuals arrested in connection with the Jan. 6, 2021 protest at the U.S. Capitol Building.

The court found that some of these individuals were improperly sentenced.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit specifically highlighted the case of former Air Force officer Larry Brock, stating that his sentence was flawed due to the inclusion of charges related to interference with the administration of justice.

The court’s opinion, penned by Circuit Judge Millett, emphasized that actions interfering with Congress’ certification of the electoral votes in the 2020 presidential election should not result in a sentence enhancement.

“Brock challenges both the district court’s interpretation of Section 1512(c)(2)’s elements and the sufficiency of the evidence to support that conviction. He also challenges the district court’s application of the three-level sentencing enhancement for interfering with the ‘administration of justice,’” Millett wrote.

The appeals court affirmed Brock’s conviction but disagreed with how he was sentenced, noting: “As for Brock’s sentence, we hold that the ‘administration of justice’ enhancement does not apply to interference with the legislative process of certifying electoral votes.”

Although the higher court upheld other aspects of Larry Brock’s conviction, it decided to “vacate Brock’s sentence” and sent the case back to the district court for resentencing on the single charge of “interference.”

This decision may also impact other Jan. 6 defendants who received longer sentences with similar enhancements, potentially leading to their cases being overturned.

“Larry Brock participated in the violent January 6th riot at the United States Capitol that forced the evacuation of members of Congress and their staff and prevented Congress’s certification of the 2020 presidential election until the next day. After a bench trial, the court convicted Brock of six crimes, including corruptly obstructing Congress’s certification of the electoral count under 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(2),” Judge Millet wrote.

“At sentencing, the district court applied a three level sentencing enhancement to Brock’s Section 1512(c)(2) conviction on the ground that Brock’s conduct resulted in ‘substantial interference with the administration of justice,’” he added.

Fox added:

Brock was initially arrested and charged on January 6, 2021, on just two charges: knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

The “interference” charge was added at a later date.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, D.C., Brock was charged after he attended then-President Trump’s “Stop the Steal Rally” on the morning of January 6th.

He then marched with others to the U.S. Capitol, entering the building at approximately 2:24 p.m.

“When he arrived, Brock ascended the Upper West Terrace and entered the building through the door to the Senate Wing. After exiting, he attempted to open a set of secured doors marked ‘U.S. Senate’ with an unidentified set of keys,” the U.S. attorney’s office said in a filing statement.

The filing added: “Brock ultimately reached the Senate floor, where he spent approximately eight minutes walking around and looking at paperwork on desks. During this time, Brock told others not to sit in the Vice President’s chair or to be disrespectful, explaining that the rioters could not afford to ‘lose the IO war.’”

He departed the Capitol Building at around 3:02 p.m.

“On his way out, he deescalated an altercation between another rioter and Capitol Police officers and guided the rioter out of the Capitol. In total, Brock spent approximately 38 minutes inside the building,” the attorney’s office said.

According to reports, he was sentenced to two years in federal prison due to an additional enhancement. Supporters argue that Brock and others were charged and sentenced for exercising their First Amendment rights.

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