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:

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.

Filed Under: 1st amendment, disrupt j20, doj, free speech, inauguration, j20, protests


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  1. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 9 Jul 2018 @ 9:13am

    Re:

    Prosecutions of actions in riot are ALWAYS difficult to pin on persons.

    If the DOJ could not pin actions within a riot on specific people, it should have said so instead of trying to prosecute 200 people for a crime that the majority of that group may have only witnessed.

    I'm NOT dismayed at results except by Techdirt's ongoing glee that property was damaged by barbarians and at least some got away with it.

    I doubt Techdirt writers were happy to see the property damage. (If you can cite any instance of their celebrating said property damage, please do so.) They were much happier to see people arrested on overblown charges that the DOJ could not make stick finally free from their legal nightmare. Did some of those people “get away with” breaking the law? Maybe. Can you prove it? The DOJ certainly couldn’t; if it could have made the charges stick in more than the relative handful of cases where it secured guilty pleas, we would have seen more guilty pleas.


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