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Proud Boys Member Kept Behind Bars as Federal Judge Rules That His Speedy Trial Clock Hasn’t Yet Expired

Ethan Nordean

Image via FBI

Thirteen times isn’t the charm for a Proud Boys member whose attorneys have filed a baker’s dozen motions for his pre-trial release. Ethan Nordean, one of the men charged in the Proud Boys seditious conspiracy indictment, can’t cite the speedy trial clock to win his freedom before his August trial, a federal judge ruled on Monday.

Arrested on Feb. 3, 2021, Nordean initially succeeded in securing home detention in the early stages of his prosecution, but the federal judge currently presiding over his case revoked his release and ordered him detained months later in April 2021. Nordean, who has been incarcerated since that time, is now among the group of five Proud Boys accused of seditious conspiracy.

U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly, a Donald Trump appointee, recounted Nordean’s many failed attempts to secure his release for more than a year.

“Between then and now Nordean has filed 13 motions, 15 supplements to those motions, and two appeals,” Kelly wrote, in a ruling on Monday rejecting the Proud Boys member’s latest bid to win his freedom on speedy-trial grounds.

Nordean claimed that the 90-day speedy trial clock began running on the day of his arrest, rather than the day Judge Kelly ordered him detained on April 20, 2021. He also objected to some of the judge’s determinations as to when the ends of justice justify excluding certain days from his calculations.

“But after considering Nordean’s motions, the post-hearing supplements to those motions, the Government’s motions, Nordean’s appeals, his co-defendants’ motions and appeals, and the Court’s many ends-of-justice findings related to the enormous amount of discovery in this case and COVID-19’s impact on the Court’s ability to hold trials consistent with the public health, that deadline is still a ways off,” Kelly wrote in a 27-page ruling.

Nordean, also known as Rufio Panman, was a member of the Proud Boys Elders chapter and a president of his local chapter. Prosecutors place him in the so-called “Ministry of Self-Defense” (MOSD) encrypted messaging group along with Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio, Joseph Biggs and Zachary Rehl.

On Dec. 27, 2020, Nordean allegedly created an online crowdfunding campaign seeking donations for “Protective gear and communications” to be used on Jan. 6, 2021, according to the indictment.

Tracing Nordean’s alleged plotting far earlier, prosecutors quote him posting the following statement on social media on Nov. 27, 2020:

“We tried playing nice and by the rules, now you will deal with the monster you created,” Nordean wrote, according to his indictment. “The spirit of 1776 has resurfaced and has created groups like the Proudboys and we will not be extinguished. We will grow like the flame that fuels us and spread like love that guides us. We are unstoppable, unrelenting and now … unforgiving. Good luck to all you traitors of this country we so deeply love… you’re going to need it.”

At multiple points in his ruling, Judge Kelly describes the speedy trial rules proposed by Nordean’s lawyers as novel. They claimed that Nordean had been “continuously” detained since his first detention, which fell close to his arrest. In fact, Nordean was released on bond before his release was revoked. His lawyers also claimed that someone released from prison with certain conditions could be said to be “detained.”

“In the end, no court has adopted the alternative reading Nordean proposes, and this Court will not be the first,” Kelly wrote.

The Proud Boys leaders are scheduled to go to trial in August.

Read the ruling, below:

(Photo via DOJ)

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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."