DOJ Racks Up 90% Failure Rate In Inauguration Protest Prosecutions, Dismisses Final Defendants
from the win-some,-lose-a-whole-lot-more dept
The DOJ, after flailing wildly for most of the last 18 months, has dismissed the remaining defendants in its disastrous inauguration day protest prosecutions.
The US attorney’s office in Washington, DC, announced Friday that it is dismissing charges against the remaining defendants charged in connection with anti-Trump demonstrations on Inauguration Day.
Police arrested 234 people on Jan. 20, 2017. Twenty-one people pleaded guilty. The final dismissal notice on Friday came after several trials in which prosecutors were unable to secure any convictions — defendants were either acquitted or jurors failed to reach a verdict.
The government still managed to land 21 convictions, even though its statement suggests it feels this isn’t nearly enough, what with “$100,000 in damage to public and private property” occurring during the protests. It certainly isn’t much considering the DOJ’s original (human) dragnet held more than 200 arrestees.
But that wasn’t the only dragnet the DOJ deployed. On its way to dismissing charges against 90% of the defendants, the DOJ also:
- Demanded access to the identifying info of all 1.2 million visitors to the Disrupt J20 website
- Demanded information from the accounts of 6,000 Facebook users
- Claimed arrested protesters were “hiding behind the First Amendment”
- Stated in court that the “beyond a reasonable doubt” jury instruction “doesn’t mean too much”
- Hid dozens of videos it planned to use as evidence from defendants
- Attempted to prosecute journalists for attending the protests and documenting them
- Still wants to be able to jail people for discussing protests/rioting, via broad conspiracy charges
This is how it ends for the DOJ, which has largely lost its bids to install a chilling effect via over-broad “rioting” prosecutions. While it’s true property was damaged during the protests, rounding up a couple hundred protesters is the opposite of targeted prosecution. If the DOJ hadn’t been shutdown in its attempt to amass personal information on more than a million website visitors and Facebook members, the number of defendants would have been even bigger. The eventual dismissals would also have skyrocketed, so the government probably should be happy it walked away with anything at all.