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Judge Calls Hearing to Confirm Precisely Who’s Representing Jacob Chansley in Post-Sentencing Capitol Siege Case

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: A protester screams "Freedom" inside the Senate chamber after the U.S. Capitol was breached by a mob during a joint session of Congress on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. A group of Republican senators said they would reject the Electoral College votes of several states unless Congress appointed a commission to audit the election results. Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S. Capitol building during demonstrations in the nation's capital. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Jacob Anthony Chansley, the so-called ‘QAnon Shaman.’

A federal judge has ordered a hearing to determine precisely who is — and perhaps who is not — representing Jacob Chansley in post-sentencing proceedings connected to the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol Complex.  According to an order filed Wednesday by judge Royce C. Lamberth, a status conference is now scheduled for Monday, Nov. 29, at 2:00 p.m.

“The status conference will proceed with defendant Jacob Chansley and all purported counsel, including John M. Pierce and Albert Watkins, in attendance,” Lamberth said in the brief order.  “In light of the approaching procedural deadline imposed by Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(b)(1)(A)(i), the status conference is necessary to confirm defendant’s counsel of record.”

Under the applicable rule, criminal appeals filed by a defendant must generally “be filed in the district court within 14 days” of “the entry of either the judgment or the order being appealed.”

In this case, judgment was entered against Chansley on Nov. 17.  On that day, the horned defendant formerly dubbed the “QAnon Shaman” was sentenced to more than three years in prison.  As Law&Crime previously reported, Lamberth called Chansley “the very image of the riot” that engulfed the capitol complex.

Pierce filed papers on Nov. 22 to represent Chansley.  Chansley had long been represented by Watkins.

“I am admitted or otherwise authorized to practice in this court, and I appear in this case as counsel” for Chansley, Pierce wrote in a brief form document that serves as a notice of appearance.

As Law&Crime previously noted, Pierce asserted that Chansley retained him to explore a possible appeal.

“Mr. Chansley will be pursuing all remedies available to him under the Constitution and federal statutory law with respect to the outcome of the criminal prosecution of him by the United States Department of Justice,” Pierce and his purported co-counsel William Shipley wrote in a press release announcing an alleged representation of Chansley. “This includes a possible direct appeal of his conviction and sentence to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, as well as claims of ‘Ineffective Assistance of Counsel’ in the appropriate venue.”

However, Watkins quickly disputed that Chansley had agreed to allow Pierce to represent him.  Watkins said he “personally spoke with Mr. Chansley” and “confirmed” that Chansley “did not personally authorize Mr. Pierce to represent him.”  Chansley also “confirmed Watkins’ continuing representation,” Watkins said.

Watkins said he “issued a letter” to Pierce to request “the prompt withdrawal of his entry of appearance” as an attorney for Chansley.  “No response from Pierce has been forthcoming,” Watkins said as of Nov. 22.

Two days later, on Nov. 24, Watkins filed two documents — a “Motion to Confirm Representation of Defendant” and a “Supplement to the Motion to Confirm Representation of Defendant” — to ostensibly confirm that he, not Pierce, is Chansley’s lawyer.  The actual documents were filed under seal because they “contain[ed] personal identifying information and sets forth sensitive information relating to Defendant,” Watkins wrote.

Judge Lamberth wants the matter sorted out by Monday afternoon.

Pierce was previously fired as a lawyer to recently acquitted Kenosha, Wis. shooter Kyle Rittenhouse.

NPR noted on Sept. 8 that Pierce was representing more capitol breach defendants than any other lawyer, but he failed to show for one court appearance.  The reasons for the missed court date were myriad and shifting.  One colleague said Pierce was on a ventilator due to COVID-19; another said he was “suffering from dehydration and exhaustion in relation to his tireless work on behalf of his clients.”

[Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images]

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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.