Partway through a crowded hearing Tuesday involving multiple defendants in the alleged Oath Keepers conspiracy to attack Congress on Jan. 6, a federal judge said the scene reminded him of “Hollywood Squares,” the former hit TV show with a set featuring a stacked grid of celebrities.
“It’s a great show, your honor,” responded the lawyer for a brand new defendant in the case, William Isaacs, who pleaded not guilty Tuesday to various charges related to his alleged breach of the Capitol.
Isaacs is one of four defendants recently added to the Oath Keepers conspiracy case, including one unidentified person whose status is unknown. The growth in the case docket, from 12 defendants to 16, became the topic of conversation Tuesday.
Attorneys for several defendants voiced concern that the possibility for more superseding indictments in the case — there have been four already, adding new charges and defendants — would complicate the process of scheduling a trial. Prosecutor Kathryn Rakoczy said it was possible the case would have to be split up into multiple trials.
The government and defense counsel also broached the possibility of negotiated plea deals. One Oath Keeper, metal guitarist Jon Schaffer, in April became the first defendant in the entire Capitol attack investigation to publicly accept a plea deal.
More deals appear likely. Prosecutors on Tuesday said they were hoping to make more plea offers over the next couple of months.
At one point on Tuesday, an attorney for Donovan Crowl, one member of the alleged “stack” of militants who pushed their way to the Capitol doors and then breached the building, asked for clarification regarding her understanding that “no plea offers were available unless the defendant came in to proffer” — a shorthand for offering information to prosecutors.
“I just wasn’t sure whether the government’s presentation today changes that position, or whether we’re still on the — plea offer is dependent on a proffer,” said the attorney, Carmen Hernandez.
“I think that Ms. Hernandez and I need to speak separately because I think that there may have been a misunderstanding about exactly what the nature of our negotiations were,” Rakoczy responded.
“I don’t think that’s accurate. I don’t think that Mr. Crowl needs to come in and speak to us before he will be given a plea offer. I do think we had some discussions, generally, about the conversation of whether Mr. Crowl would be giving a proffer, but I think Ms. Hernandez has overstated the government’s positions.”
U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta, who invoked the famous game show to describe the hearing, ultimately granted a 30-day continuance in the case, allowing the parties more time to suss out details related to the massive discovery in the case, as well as potential developments in plea negotiations.