Who Will Judge the Proud Boys’ Proud Boys? Their lawyers fear the options.
- Monday will see the selection of the Proud Boys jury for the sedition-trial trial. They will be drawn from a pool of DC residents.
- Most in the pool hold negative views of the extremist group, but all have promised to be fair.
- Defense lawyers are only allowed to present 12 challenges and are already prepared for an “unfair, partial jury.”
Monday will see 12 jurors seated in Proud Boys’ sedition trial. They are drawn from a pool of approximately 45 DC residents who have been carefully vetted and all have pledged to be fair.
During the initial jury selection process, however, the majority of those in the pool had strong negative views about the anti-goverment extremist organization. Some even called it racist, violent, antisemitic, and a threat both to democracy and national security.
While such views are widely shared by the public and extremism experts — both the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Council call the Proud Boys a violent, right-wing hate group — defense lawyers for the trial’s five defendants are already convinced that given this pool and the trial’s DC location, the jury chosen Monday won’t be fair.
Enrique Tarrio, former national chairman of Proud Boys, and four of his top lieutenants are charged with seditious conspiracyHe is accused of masterminding the plot to storm Capitol on January 6, 2021 and stop Congress from certifying 2020 presidential election results.
According to someone familiar with their strategy, the defense teams plan to make one last-ditch motion to change the venue right after the jurors have seated.
“The judge had already denied defense venue-change motions on their theory that they will be in a fair jury,” stated the person, who Insider gave anonymity so they could speak publicly.
“They’re going make that argument again,” the person said. “They’ll tell Judge, ‘Now, we’ve viewed the jury, this ridiculous.’
Defense lawyers will ask one last time to move the case out of politics-obsessed District of Columbia, away from what they see as a jury pool hopelessly tainted by the recent televised hearings of the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021 Capitol attack — and by having lived through the attack itself.
It’s a request they made in court and in legal filingsfor many months, and which the trial Judge, US District Judge Timothy J. Kelly has repeatedly rejected.
Ross Suter, a Philadelphia-based jury consulting firm Magna Legal Services (a litigation consulting and jury-research company), predicted that he’ll probably turn his thumbs down on Monday when the venue is changed again.
Suter stated to Insider that it was not surprising that potential jurors knew about the Proud Boys or January 6th.
“But we find that jurors are generally motivated to do the right things. He said that the judge would instruct them and that they would do their best to comply with those instructions.
Last month, jurors in New York worked hard to be impartial as they weighed criminal evidence against Donald Trump’s business, Trump Organization, during the tax fraud trial.
Even in Trump-unfriendly Manhattan — where just 12 percent voted for the former president — jurors said they strove to set aside any personal biases, notably referring to Trump as “Bob Smith”Remind yourself that he should be treated just like any other businessman.
Suter stated, “Juries have always taken their responsibility seriously.”
“We’re referring to someone who could end up in jail for a substantial amount of time. So they do their best to do the right thing. They will be instructed by the judge to remain impartial throughout their trial.
Tarrio’s defense team and co-defendants Ethan Nordean and Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl and Dominic Pezzola are ready to face the worst.
Carmen Hernandez, his lawyer, stated that Mr. Rehl objects “to the continued qualification jurors with prejudiced views toward Proud Boys, and the allegations underpinning the charges.” wrote the judgeFour days before Christmas
These views included “preconceived beliefs about the Proud Boys as a dangerous arm group,’ an ‘hate filled,’ or ‘racists’ group, and other biased views, followed by assertions that they can still be fair.”
She said, “Moreover, if a jury panel was seated with so many people who have expressed preconceived unduly prejudice views of the defendants even if they could abide their intent to remain impartial. Once placed together in one jury it is difficult to imagine how their prejudices won’t resurface or reinforce each other, leading to an unfair, partial jury.”
Suter stated that defense lawyers will likely spend the weekend poring over public records regarding the 45 prospects in the pool.
With only a total of 12 chances to strike or reject individual jurors — federal prosecutors can strike 10 — the defense will want those strikes to be well-researched, Suter said.
“Both sides will be looking into the backgrounds and opinions of these people. I would be surprised if they didn’t do some deep diving this weekend, unless the court disqualifies them.
Opening statements are scheduled for Tuesday. The trial is expected last until mid-February.
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