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Judge ‘Reluctantly’ Agrees to Postpone Proud Boys Trial After They Featured ‘Prominently’ in ‘Primetime’ Jan. 6 Committee Hearing

Left to right: Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl, Enrique Tarrio, Dominic Pezzola, defendants in the Proud Boys Jan. 6 conspiracy case.

Left to right: Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl, Enrique Tarrio, Dominic Pezzola, defendants in the Proud Boys Jan. 6 conspiracy case.

After hearing complaints by prosecutors and defense attorneys that the Jan. 6 Committee complicated their work, a federal judge “reluctantly” agreed to postpone the Proud Boys’ seditious conspiracy trial until December 2022.

The Department of Justice has long complained that the Jan. 6 Committee refused to immediately turn over all transcripts of their interviews. Those include files relevant to the prosecution of Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio and members Joseph Biggs, Ethan Nordean and Zachary Rehl.

“Nordean, Biggs, and Pezzola have highlighted the need to review the Committee’s deposition and interview transcripts before trial—not during or after,” prosecutors wrote in a motion on Tuesday. “The government agrees with this position. The release of these transcripts after jeopardy has attached in this case would be detrimental to all parties and to the public interest.”

Justice Department trial attorney Conor Mulroe noted that the Proud Boys featured “prominently” in the June 9 hearing. That hearing showed footage of Tarrio meeting with Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes the day before the attack on the U.S. Capitol. The committee started to suggest that the groups sought out a vulnerability at the Peace Circle to clear a path for the rioters.

“Representatives of the Committee have indicated that the relationship between the Trump Administration and the Proud Boys and other groups will be the subject of a future hearing,” the government’s filing says. “Were the trial in this case not continued, the parties in this case could find themselves in the unprecedented position of litigating a criminal trial simultaneous to the release of a Congressional report that is likely to include robust descriptions of the criminal conduct of the defendants.”

The government had been responding to a memo from Nordean’s attorney David B. Smith complaining about the Proud Boys being prominently featured on “primetime TV,” drawing more than 20 million viewers who heard a recitation of the charges against them.

But Nordean used the requested the delay to redouble his efforts to be released from jail, arguing that he should not be forced to choose between a tainted jury and his right to a speedy trial.

Nordean’s defense filed that memo on the same day that U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly rejected his speedy trial arguments. Kelly is a Donald Trump appointee.

Observing that trial delay was a rare issue on which prosecutors and Proud Boys’ attorneys largely agreed, Judge Kelly postponed the trial until Dec. 12, 2022.

“It might be the first thing that all of the parties agreed on in this case,” he quipped.

That broad agreement was not without dissent.

Counsel for Tarrio opposed any delay in a memo filed earlier on Wednesday — and reiterated at the hearing.

“Tarrio believes that an impartial jury will never be achieved in Washington D.C. whether the trial is in August, December, or next year,” his Florida-based attorney Sabino Jauregui wrote.

Judge Kelly overruled that objection. The government expects that jury selection will be completed by Dec. 26, and opening statements can begin on the week of Jan. 2, 2023.

(images via FBI court filings)

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."