US Supreme Court rules in favour of former Pennsylvania police officer who joined January 6 attack

WASHINGTON — A former Pennsylvania police officer who joined the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol that delayed the certification of the 2020 presidential election results cannot be charged with obstructing an official proceeding unless a lower court finds otherwise, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Friday.

The ruling casts doubt on the cases of potentially hundreds of January 6 defendants facing the same charge, as well as part of the indictment of Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith that accuses former President Donald Trump of planning to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

In 6-3 opinionThe justices, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, wrote that the challenged subsection of the early 21st century obstruction statute could only apply to the manipulation of physical records.

“To prove a violation of section 1512(c)(2), the government must show that the defendant compromised or attempted to compromise the availability or integrity of records, documents, items, or, as we explained earlier, other items used in the proceedings for the purposes of the official proceeding.” – wrote Roberts.

“Accordingly, the judgment of the D.C. Circuit is reversed and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with that opinion,” Roberts wrote.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson delivered the accompanying opinion.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett, joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, did not dissent.

The impact on the January 6, Trump defendants

The ruling may have an impact over 355 On January 6, the defendants were charged with the same crime, which carries a penalty of a fine and a prison sentence of not more than 20 years.

Tens, including leaders According to the Department of Justice, Proud Boys and Oath Keepers extremists have already been convicted on this charge.

Suitcase, Fischer v. United Statesfocusing on whether defendant Joseph W. Fischer violated an obstruction law on January 6 by joining the mob that breached the U.S. Capitol and delayed Congress and Vice President Mike Pence from certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election, in which Democrat Joe Biden was the winner.

Trump also faces obstruction charges in a four-count federal indictment claims he worked with others to change the election results in seven states, got Pence to join him, and whipped his base into a frenzy that culminated in the January 6 attack.

Trump will almost certainly contest the accusation, as his legal team has already done so. (*6*)he argued is completely immune to it.

The obstruction provision considered by the Supreme Court is found in Art. 1512 Act Sarbanes-Oxley Actpassed after the Enron accounting scandal in 2001.

This provision applies to “anyone who corruptly (1) alters, destroys, mutilates, or conceals a record, document, or other item, or attempts to do so, with the intent of impairing the integrity of the item or its availability for use in an official proceeding; or (2) otherwise obstructs, influences, or attempts to obstruct any official proceeding.”


Significant time in April oral arguments it focused on whether the second part of the Act relied on the first clause, which meant that the law could only be applied if there was substantive evidence.

The government argued the two parts were separate and that Fischer, who sent text messages before the riot and is seen on Capitol police body camera footage, intended to disrupt the official proceedings of Congress.

Fischer’s team argued that he actually entered the Capitol only after Congress had already halted the proceedings and that he did not stay there very long.

AND lower federal court agreed last year with Fischer’s motion to dismiss the felony charge.

A federal appeals panel in Washington, D.C., failed to do so. Judge Florence Y. Pan — who also served on the panel in the Trump presidential case complaint about immunity – he wrote in the introduction opinion that the statute is “unambiguous” in terms of what constitutes obstruction of official proceedings.

The obstruction charge is not the only charge Fischer faces following his involvement in the January 6 riot.

The original indictment against him also included charges of disorderly conduct, assault, resisting or obstructing specified officers, entering or remaining in a restricted building, disorderly conduct, and parading, demonstrating or picketing in the Capitol building.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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