Federal judges are weighing legal challenges to one of the leading felony charges that government lawyers have brought in Capitol riot cases, potentially setting the stage for protracted legal battles over the Justice Department’s prosecutorial strategy in the wake of Jan. 6.
In several cases, defendants have moved to throw out the obstruction of an official proceeding charge, which carries a maximum possible sentence of 20 years in prison, arguing that the statute is unconstitutionally vague and the Jan. 6 certification of the Electoral College results does not qualify under the law as an “official proceeding.”
At least three judges in recent weeks have pressed prosecutors on whether the charge is appropriate in the context of the riot. If courts rule that the felony count cannot be applied to Jan. 6 defendants or that the law is unconstitutional, it would deal a blow to prosecutors’ efforts to crack down on those who overran the Capitol.
Some federal judges overseeing the prosecutions have expressed concerns about the application of the law in the context of the Capitol riot and whether that could potentially prove problematic when applied to other circumstances.
Earlier: Prosecutors Lost A Fight To Keep A Set Of Jan. 6 Capitol Surveillance Videos Under Seal. As John Cardillo tweeted, “Hell they weren’t even trespassers, they were a tour group.”