Judge Denies Nearly 200 Inauguration Protesters’ Motions to Dismiss Charges

Monica Jorge/SIPPL Sipa USA

A Washington, D.C. Superior Court judge on Thursday rejected defense attorneys’ motions to dismiss charges against nearly 200 people accused of felony rioting, among other charges, for their activities in Washington, D.C. during President Donald Trump’s inauguration.

According to the Hill, which reported on Judge Lynn Leibovitz dismissing the motions, there are 194 cases remaining to be tried of the 234 protesters originally charged. Nineteen have pleaded guilty, the outlet noted.

Charges were filed against both protesters accused of destroying property and attacking police, and those there to document the protest, including journalists and legal observers. Defense lawyers for the accused have called prosecutors’ actions in the case — particularly the blurring of lines between individuals who attacked police and property, and those who merely attended or planned the protest — “unprecedented.”

Leibovitz criticized defense attorneys in April for their insistence on taking time to review the hundreds of hours of available footage of the protest.

“These will be dragged out until everyone here are grandparents. Unless that is the goal,” she told the Washington Post in April, after a grand jury added even more charges for the then more than 200 charged protesters, including inciting or urging to riot, conspiracy to riot and multiple counts of destruction of property, according to the Post.

The new charges made it easier to prosecute individuals based on others’ actions.

On Thursday, Leibovitz rejected attorneys’ motions to dismiss the charges and to release the instructions given to the grand jury, which the defendants had argued were confusing and led to excessive or “defective” charges.

After the secondary charges were announced in April, a spokesperson for Dead City Legal Posse, a support group for the defendants, told DCist the government’s approach was expected, but extreme.

“We were fully aware of the possibility of additional charges, but the indiscriminate nature of the charges is outrageous,” Sam Menefee-Libey told the paper, adding: “The charges were draconian before, they’re even more draconian now.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.
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