UNITED STATES NEWS

Supreme Court will hear a case that could undo Capitol riot charge against hundreds, including Trump

Dec 13, 2023, 7:34 AM | Updated: 9:48 am

FILE - The U.S. Supreme Court is seen, Nov. 15, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib, File)...

FILE - The U.S. Supreme Court is seen, Nov. 15, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Wednesday said it will hear an appeal that could upend hundreds of charges stemming from the Capitol riot, including against former President Donald Trump.

The justices will review an appellate ruling that revived a charge against three defendants accused of obstruction of an official proceeding. The charge refers to the disruption of Congress’ certification of Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential election victory over Trump.

That’s among four counts brought against Trump in special counsel Jack Smith’s case that accuses the 2024 Republican presidential primary front-runner of conspiring to overturn the results of his election loss. Trump is also charged with conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding.

The court’s decision to weigh in on the obstruction charge could threaten the start of Trump’s trial, currently scheduled for March 4. The justices separately are considering whether to rule quickly on Trump’s claim that he can’t be prosecuted for actions taken within his role as president. A federal judge already has rejected that argument.

A lawyer for Trump didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment on the supreme court’s decision to review the charge.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments in March or April, with a decision expected by early summer.

The obstruction charge, which carries up to 20 years behind bars, has been brought against more than 300 defendants and is among the most widely used felony charges brought in the massive federal prosecution following the deadly insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, when a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in a bid to keep Biden, a Democrat, from taking the White House.

At least 152 people have been convicted at trial or pleaded guilty to obstructing an official proceeding, and at least 108 of them have been sentenced, according to an Associated Press review of court records.

A lower court judge had dismissed the charge against Joseph Fischer, a former Pennsylvania police officer, and two other defendants, ruling it didn’t cover their conduct. The justices agreed to hear the appeal filed by lawyers for Fischer, who is facing a seven-count indictment for his actions on Jan. 6, including the obstruction charge.

The other defendants are Edward Jacob Lang, of New York’s Hudson Valley, and Garret Miller, who has since pleaded guilty to other charges and was sentenced to 38 months in prison. Miller, who’s from the Dallas area, could still face prosecution on the obstruction charge.

U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols found that prosecutors stretched the law beyond its scope to inappropriately apply it in these cases. Nichols ruled that a defendant must have taken “some action with respect to a document, record or other object” to obstruct an official proceeding under the law.

The Justice Department challenged that ruling, and the appeals court in Washington agreed with prosecutors in April that Nichols’ interpretation of the law was too limited.

Other defendants, including Trump, are separately challenging the use of the charge.

Defense attorney Kira Anne West, who has represented several Jan. 6 defendants charged with obstruction of an official proceeding, said the courts will have to “undo a whole bunch of cases” and adjust many sentences if the Supreme Court rules in their favor.

“This is a watershed day,” she said. “In our world — defense lawyer world — this is huge.”

West represents a man scheduled to be tried in early January on charges including the obstruction count. She doesn’t yet know if she will seek a delay until the Supreme Court resolves the challenge.

More than 1,200 people have been charged with federal crimes stemming from the riot, and more than 700 defendants have pleaded guilty.

___

Associated Press writers Alanna Durkin Richer in Boston and Michael Kunzelman in Silver Spring, Maryland, contributed to this report.

___

This story has been corrected to reflect that Joseph Fischer was a police officer in Pennsylvania, not Boston.

___

Follow the AP’s coverage of the U.S. Supreme Court at https://apnews.com/hub/us-supreme-court.

United States News

Associated Press

Body parts of 2 people found in Long Island park and police are trying to identify them

BABYLON, N.Y. (AP) — Police on New York’s Long Island were trying to identify human remains found in a popular suburban park that appear to be from a man and a woman. A girl walking to school Thursday morning found a severed arm on the side of the road at Southards Pond Park, about 25 […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Train derailment leaves cars on riverbank or in water; no injuries, hazardous materials reported

BETHLEHEM, Pa. (AP) — Authorities say a train derailment in eastern Pennsylvania has left some railroad cars along a riverbank Saturday morning and at least one partially in the river itself. Dispatchers in Northampton County said the derailment was reported at 7:14 a.m. in Lower Saucon Township. Authorities said it was unclear how many cars […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

An arrest has been made and charges filed in Pennsylvania slaying of pregnant Amish woman

SPARTANSBURG, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania man was arrested Saturday and charged with the slaying of a pregnant Amish woman whose body was found last week. Shawn C. Cranston, 52, of Corry, has been charged with criminal homicide, criminal homicide of an unborn child, burglary and criminal trespass, Pennsylvania State Police said. He was denied […]

4 hours ago

FILE - Alexander Smirnov, second from right, leaves the courthouse on Feb. 20, 2024, in Las Vegas. ...

Associated Press

How clean is the dirt on Hunter Biden? A key Republican source is charged with lying to the FBI

WASHINGTON (AP) — Alexander Smirnov was cast by Republicans as one of the FBI’s most trusted informants, offering a “highly credible” account of brazen public corruption by Joe Biden that formed a pillar of the House impeachment investigation of the Democratic president. Then, last month, the script changed dramatically. charged with lying to the FBI, […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Powerful storm in California and Nevada shuts interstate and dumps snow on mountains

RENO, Nev. (AP) — A powerful blizzard raged overnight into Saturday in the Sierra Nevada as the biggest storm of the season shut down a long stretch of Interstate-80 in California and gusty winds and heavy rain hit lower elevations, leaving tens of thousands of customers without power. Up to 10 feet (3 meters) of […]

10 hours ago

Musher Dutch Johnson, a kennel manager at The August Foundation for Alaska Racing Dogs, runs a dog ...

Associated Press

Alaska’s Iditarod dogs get neon visibility harnesses after 5 were fatally hit while training

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Iditarod, the annual sled dog race celebrating Alaska’s official state sport, is set to get underway Saturday with a new focus on safety after five dogs died and eight were injured in collisions with snowmobiles while training on shared, multi-use trails. For the first time, mushers who line up for […]

12 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.

Supreme Court will hear a case that could undo Capitol riot charge against hundreds, including Trump