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Chief Federal Judge in D.C. Overrules Magistrate, Orders Proud Boys Leader Held in Custody — For Now


Ethan Nordean, a.k.a. Rufio Panman, appears on InfoWars with Alex Jones. (Image via screen capture from InfoWars.)

In yet another reversal of a ruling by a federal magistrate judge, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., has ordered that Proud Boy Ethan Nordean (also known as Rufino Panman) must be held behind bars — at least for now.

Federal prosecutors filed a Motion for Emergency Stay before Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell of the D.C. District after a different federal magistrate judge in Washington State decided Nordean should be allowed to go free on bail.  Judge Howell “granted the government’s motion and ordered that the release order” previously issued by Chief Magistrate Judge Brian A. Tsuchida in the Western District of Washington State, where Nordean lives and was arrested, “be stayed pending review of the detention decision.” In other words, Nordean remains locked up while Howell reviews the particulars of the case.

Nordean’s federal public defenders argued that he was neither a flight risk nor a danger to his community. They cited Nordean’s lack of a criminal record and deep family connections to western Washington State as reasons why they believed he could be expected to show up for future court hearings and for a trial — should the proceedings go that far.

Prosecutors characterized Nordean as a Proud Boys member who planned for weeks to wreak havoc at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Among his alleged activities was soliciting communications gear for the siege at the Capitol. Government prosecutors further pointed to Nordean’s attainment of fame for admittedly punching an alleged member of Antifa at a different rally in 2018. Nordean also possessed an unsigned passport which prosecutors claim depicted a man similar to Nordean.  Government lawyers suggested Nordean could have been saving the document in an attempt to flee.

Federal prosecutors alleged that the man seen in a passport (left) recovered from Ethan Nordean’s home resembled Nordean (right).  (Image via federal court documents.)

Nordean’s public defenders said the passport depicted his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend and that the ex simply hadn’t retrieved it. They also said Nordean punched the alleged member of Antifa because the Antifa adherent attacked him first.

Other district court judges outside of Washington, D.C., have made similar rulings — only to be ‘overruled’ (in a nontechnical sense) by judges in the D.C. district. For instance, Lisa Marie Eisenhart, the mother of the so-called “Zip Tie Guy,” was forced to remain in custody by D.C. Judge Howell after she was nearly released by Magistrate Judge Jeffery S. Frensley of the Middle District of Tennessee. The same was true of her son, the “Zip Tie Guy” himself, Eric Gavelek Munchel.  He was nearly released by U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffery S. Frensley of the Middle District of Tennessee. However, Mathew ‘Mateo Q’ Capsel was ordered released after allegedly assaulting members of the National Guard; Law&Crime could locate no subsequent order of detention on the docket in either D.C. or in Illinois.

Bail determinations are highly individual and factually specific. Some defendants in the D.C. siege have been allowed to leave jail pending trial; others have not. For instance, a judge determined that William McCall Calhoun, Jr., was a threat to his community and therefore denied bail; a judge similarly denied bail for a defendant accused of threatening to kill House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Aaron Mostofsky, the son of a Brooklyn judge, was allowed to post bail and was subsequently released pending future proceedings in the U.S. Capitol siege; Justin McAuliffe, who said he saw invaders smoking a joint inside the legislative seat of government, was also released after his father paid to get him out of jail. The so-called “QAnon Shaman,” Jacob Chansley, argued that he should be released if his jailers couldn’t feed him an organic diet. Prosecutors objected to his release but not to his diet; he was ultimately transferred to a jail willing to serve him organic food due to his professed religious convictions.

The judge’s order in Nordean’s case is below.

Nordean Held by DC Judge by Law&Crime

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Aaron Keller holds a juris doctor degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law and a broadcast journalism degree from Syracuse University. He is a former anchor and executive producer for the Law&Crime Network and is now deputy editor-in-chief for the Law&Crime website. DISCLAIMER:  This website is for general informational purposes only. You should not rely on it for legal advice. Reading this site or interacting with the author via this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. This website is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. Speak to a competent lawyer in your jurisdiction for legal advice and representation relevant to your situation.