Federal Appeals Court Finds DOJ Wrongly Lengthened Some Jan. 6 Defendants’ Sentences

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A federal appeals court found Friday that some Jan. 6 defendants’ sentences were wrongly lengthened when judges determined they interfered “with the administration of justice.”

A D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals three-judge panel sided Friday with Jan. 6 defendant Larry Brock, rejecting the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) argument that a sentencing enhancement designed for defendants who disrupt judicial proceedings should be applied to defendants who disrupted Congress’ certification of the 2020 presidential election. Brock was sentenced last year to two years in prison for obstructing an official proceeding.

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“We must apply the Guideline as written, and Brock’s interference with one stage of the electoral college vote-counting process— while no doubt endangering our democratic processes and temporarily derailing Congress’s constitutional work — did not interfere with the “administration of justice,” Judge Patricia Millett, an Obama appointee, wrote in the opinion.

The panel also included judges Cornelia Pillard, an Obama appointee, and Judith Rogers, a Clinton appointee.

The panel found that the “administration of justice” applies to “judicial, quasi-judicial, and adjunct investigative proceedings, but does not extend to the unique congressional function of certifying electoral college votes.” The enhancement can increase sentences by over a year, according to Politico.

In April, the Supreme Court will hear a case challenging the scope of the obstruction statute, Section 1512(c)(2), used to charge hundreds of defendants, including Brock.

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