Washington, DC – The case brought by the US Attorney against protesters mass-arrested opposing President Trump’s inauguration suffered several more losses early this week. On Monday morning, federal prosecutors moved to dismiss the remaining charges against 3 defendants who had been scheduled to go to trial that same day. Additionally, jurors in the second inauguration protest trial, who began deliberations on Friday, June 1, delivered a partial verdict on Monday, announcing that they had found defendant Cathseigh Webber “not guilty” of all charges.
While Webber’s acquittal was announced this morning, the other three current trial defendants have not received a verdict from the jury and still face sentences of up to 60 years in prison. The remaining defendants – Michael Basillas, Seth Cadman and Anthony Felice – are each accused of participating in property destruction during the anti-Trump protest march, although no witnesses have identified them.
The government’s case against Basillas, Cadman, and Felice relies entirely upon arguments made by prosecutors, who claim that each defendant’s appearance can be correlated with clothing details, such as zippers and sunglasses, in videos analyzed by DC Police Detective Greggory Pemberton. The alleged identification of the three protesters has been heavily contested by defense counsel, who described the alleged evidence as merely “blurry pictures of someone who is dressed similar to everyone else.”
Last week DC Superior Court Chief Judge Robert Morin sanctioned the US Attorney’s Office for hiding up to 69 evidence recordings from defendants and making false statements to the court. Judge Morin told prosecutors they could no longer use undercover video taken of an inauguration protest planning meeting by the right-wing “entrapment” media group Project Veritas.
The same day Morin announced his sanctions, Assistant US Attorney Ahmed Baset announced his officer was dropping all charges against the June 4 trial group, and was dropping all felonies against another trial group that had been scheduled for May 29 (remaining charges against these defendants were dropped on Monday, June 4.)
Morin also forbade the prosecution from using their theory of a “conspiracy to riot” in two trial groups (whose cases have since all been dismissed). His ruling is believed to apply to other inauguration defendants still facing charges, although the implications of Morin’s ruling have yet to be fully litigated in trial readiness hearings for the remaining cases. As of this writing, 47 defendants remain indicted and face charges stemming from the DC police mass-arrest of the “anti-capitalist, anti-fascist” march during Trump’s inauguration.
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J20 Trial Coverage & More:
- Criminalizing Dissent: Trials Begin for Trump Inauguration J20 Protests - November 29, 2017
- Criminalizing Dissent: Contested Evidence Introduced in J20 Trial Testimony - November 29, 2017
- Police Commander Behind J20 Arrests Joked About Holocaust, LGBTs - December 3, 2017
- Criminalizing Dissent: Trump Inauguration Protest Trial Enters Fourth Week - December 9, 2017
- Criminalizing Dissent: After Proving “Mere Presence” J20 Prosecution Rests Case - December 13, 2017
- Jury Finds Six #J20 Defendants “Not Guilty” on All Charges - December 21, 2017
- Interview: 188 Still Face Decades In Prison For Trump Inauguration Protest - January 13, 2018
- DC Mayor, Police Refuse to Release Financial Records of Trump Inauguration Investigation - January 17, 2018
- US Attorney Drops 129 Trump Inauguration Protest Cases, 59 Still Face Decades In Prison - January 18, 2018
- Second Trump Inauguration Protest Trial Begins - May 16, 2018
- Prosecutors Illegally Withheld Evidence From Trump Inauguration Protesters, Judge Finds - May 23, 2018
- Second J20 Trial Heads To Jury Despite Court Sanctions Against Prosecutors - June 1, 2018
- More Trump Inauguration Protest Arrestees Have Charges Dismissed - June 4, 2018
- Another Trump Inauguration Protester Acquitted at Trial - June 6, 2018
- Second Trump Inauguration Protest Trial Ends In Acquittals/Mistrials - June 7, 2018
- Federal Prosecutors Drop Eight More Trump Inauguration Protest Cases - June 13, 2018
DC J20 Protest Coverage:
- FERC Protest, Evict the DNC, & Disrupt the DeploraBall on the Eve of Trump’s Inauguration - January 23, 2017
- “No Peaceful Transition” for Trump as Thousands #DisruptJ20 in Washington, D.C. on Inauguration Day - January 27, 2017
- 214 Indicted on Felony Riot Charges for Protesting Trump Inauguration - March 15, 2017
- Anti-Racist Coalition Rallies Against Fascism and State Repression at DC Police HQ - June 25, 2017
- Protesters Face 80 Years as US Attorney Brings Unprecedented Mass Felony Charges (Includes Interview with Olivia, a Defendant) - June 29, 2017
- J20 Defendant Dane Powell Sentenced to Four Months in Federal Prison - July 7, 2017
- J20 Indictment Challenged in Motions Hearing; One Count Dismissed - July 28, 2017