A federal judge has found two D.C. jail officials in contempt of court for failing to comply with an order to provide medical notes about Christopher Worrell, a so-called “Proud Boy” who is accused of participating in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The judge has also asked U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate the jail for potential civil rights violations.
U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth issued the contempt order against Wanda Patten, the warden of the D.C. Jail, and Quincy Booth, the director of the D.C. Department of Corrections, on Wednesday after jail officials repeatedly refused to provide medical documents about Worrell to the court.
In his order, Lamberth, a Ronald Reagan appointee who has not previously been particularly sympathetic to Worrell, called for an investigation into whether the civil rights of Worrell and others may have been violated.
“The Clerk of the Court is ORDERED to transmit a copy of this order to the Attorney General of the United States for appropriate inquiry into potential civil rights violations of January 6 defendants, as exemplified in this case,” Lamberth wrote in the order.
Lamberth didn’t mince words in Wednesday’s hearing, according to a Washington Post report.
“It’s clear to me the civil rights of the defendant were violated by the D.C. Department of Corrections,” Lamberth said. “I don’t know if it’s because he’s a January 6 defendant or not.”
Lamberth did not issue any sanctions on Wednesday.
The Department of Corrections argued unsuccessfully on Tuesday that the court should exercise its inherent contempt powers “with restraint and discretion” — citing case law for that quote.
“The Court should not hold anyone from the D.C. Jail in civil contempt for two reasons,” that argument went in documents made public on Wednesday but submitted to the court on Tuesday. “First, DOC provided the narrative specialist notes from Dr. Wilson to the Supervisory U.S. Marshal Derek Haywood on October 12, 2021, one business day after the Court entered its October 8, 2021 Order. Second, DOC made a good faith effort to substantially comply with the October 8 Order.”
Again, those arguments did not appear to sway the judge.
On Oct. 8, Lamberth ordered the D.C. Jail and D.C. Department of Corrections to provide an update as to the status of Worrell’s request for surgery to repair a finger fracture. The U.S. Marshals Service Medical Branch had made repeated requests for notes from the specialist who recommended Worrell get the surgery.
Worrell is currently awaiting trial on allegations that he assaulted police with chemical spray during the Jan. 6 siege at the U.S. Capitol. He had previously asked to be released from jail, claiming that he had not been receiving adequate medical care for conditions stemming from a recurrence of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. At the time, Lamberth said that Worrell’s claims were “without merit” and that he had been receiving proper medical care.
Complaints by various defendants charged in connection with the Jan. 6 siege about conditions behind bars have been in the public sphere for quite some time.
Read the documents below:
[Image via federal court records.]
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