“Some have compared what happened on January 6 with other protests across the country last year and suggested that Capitol rioters be treated unfairly,” Chutkan said during a verdict. “I totally disagree.”
Although she did not mention any names, it seemed unmistakable that Chutkan was reacting – almost point by point – to the analysis of Judge Trevor McFadden, who sits next to her in the US District Court in Washington, DC, where more than 600 defendants are sitting because of her Role charged in attacking the Capitol.
On Friday, McFadden said prosecutors circumvented themselves on Jan. 6 by doing little to impose legal consequences on those who rioted during last year’s racial justice protests.
“I think the US attorney would have more credibility if he were impartial in his concerns about riots and mobs in this city,” he said during another conviction hearing, according to the Associated Press.
The judges’ duel comments reflect an evolving split in federal justice over lower-level dealings with the defendants, which has led to the insurgency attempt by the extremists who defended the Jan.
Attorney General Merrick Garland, who once worked in the same courthouse with the judges who staked positions in the Jan. 6 cases, defended prosecutors Monday against complaints that some Capitol rioters were allowed to settle their cases through admission of misdemeanors.
“I am well aware that there are people who criticize us for not being prosecuted enough and others who complain that we are too harsh,” Garland said during a video interview for the New York Festival. “This is definitely part of the territory for any prosecutor.”
While many of the most serious cases are still pending – and likely to stretch well into 2022 – dozens of criminal cases are being resolved at a suddenly rapid pace. And it gives the judges their first attempt to weigh the broader nature of the attack on the Capitol.
McFadden, who was named by former President Donald Trump, seems like a lonely voice on the DC bank for now. Several judges have voiced views similar to Chutkan: that those who joined the January 6 mob helped overwhelm the police and strain resources in ways that helped the violent extremists threaten the handover.
“What happened … was nothing less than a violent mob trying to prevent the orderly, peaceful transfer of power in an election,” said Chutkan, a representative for former President Barack Obama. “This mob tried to overthrow the government. … This is not just a protest. “
Judge Emmet Sullivan, an appointee for former President Bill Clinton, complained last week that during the January 6th events, a number of ordinary, law-abiding Americans “turned into terrorists.”
At last week’s verdict hearings, Judge James Boasberg made it clear that he agreed that those who remained non-violent on January 6 would effectively support the violence.
“There are few actions as serious as what this group took that day,” said Boasberg, an Obama-appointed employee. “If there are five people, or eight people, or 10 or 15, there is no commotion. … Encouraging and inciting other people has led to the violence. “
And Judge Paul Friedman, a Clinton-appointed officer who sentenced Defendant Valerie Ehrke to suspended sentence on Jan. 6, said he believed that her light sentence would be the exception rather than the norm for crimes that democracy makes threatened.
In delivering the verdict for Matthew Carl Mazzocco on Monday, Chutkan admitted the Texas resident did not break into, damage property, or engage in violence there, but she said he and others who illegally entered the seat of Congress did carry some responsibility for the chaos that was unfolding.
“People who committed these acts of violence did so because they had the security of numbers – one of them was Mr. Mazzocco,” Chutkan said.
McFadden’s testimony reiterated arguments put forward by many of the defendants, Trump himself and his allies on Capitol Hill.
During Friday’s verdict hearing, McFadden railed against the defendant in front of him, Danielle Doyle, for “acting like all those looters and rioters last year. That’s because looters and rioters decided the law didn’t apply to them. “
The judge said Doyle’s behavior was inexcusable, calling it a “national embarrassment,” and again likened it to protests against police brutality following the death of George Floyd last year, which “made us all feel less safe,” the AP reported .
McFadden, in particular, has taken a hard line on some of the Jan. 6 defendants. He ordered the pre-trial detention of Timothy Hale-Cusanelli, an Army reservist who wore a Hitler mustache to his job at a naval base, and quoted Hale-Cusanelli’s violent rhetoric and assumption of an impending civil war.
On Monday, however, Chutkan took offense at McFadden’s suggestion that January 6 rioters be treated unfairly harshly. She argued that many of the defendants in the Capitol riots were treated more gently than those arrested for rioting alongside protests against Black Lives Matter.
For example, Chutkan said the Capitol suspects were not arrested on the spot and were allowed to stay in their home counties for many of the trials. And prosecutors have agreed to allow many of them to plead guilty to a single charge of wrongdoing, Chutkan noted, even though most of them had charged at least four offenses.
Chutkan also said the basis for the protests against Black Lives Matter – racial justice – is very different from the purpose of the January 6 event, which was put together by Trump when he promoted discredited claims that the 2020 elections were stolen. The defendant Mazzocco, who was convicted by her on Monday, traveled to the Capitol for Trump, not for democratic reasons, she said.
“He went to the Capitol to support a man, not to support our country,” Chutkan said.
McFadden and Chutkan differed not only in their assessment of the administrative offenses of January 6th. The two also deviated from the judgments they had delivered in the cases they dealt with.
While McFadden sentenced Doyle to a two-month suspended sentence and $ 3,000 fine, Chutkan beat Mazzocco with 45 days in prison – a harsher sentence than prosecutors asked for three months of house arrest.
“This court believes that a suspended sentence does not reflect the gravity of the crime. … Participating in an attempted violent overthrow of the government must have consequences beyond just sitting at home, ”Chutkan said on Monday. “The country is watching. … If Mr Mazzocco gets away with parole and a slap on the wrist, it won’t stop anyone from trying again. “