WASHINGTON, March 15 ― Federal prosecutors yesterday asked a judge to dismiss criminal charges against a Capitol riots defendant and release him from jail, a rare admission in a court filing that the Justice Department had violated his legal right to a speedy trial.
At the same time, however, prosecutors asked permission to refile the criminal charges again, saying that apart from the Oath Keeper militia members who are facing seditious conspiracy charges, the defendant is facing “the most serious offenses charged in relation to the attack on the Capitol.”
In the filing, prosecutors said they had made a mistake by failing to secure an indictment or criminal information against Texas resident Lucas Denney within 30 days of his December 13, 2021 arrest, as required by the Speedy Trial Act.
Denney was charged in a criminal complaint with assaulting or resisting police, obstructing law enforcement during civil disorder and obstructing an official proceeding, among other charges.
He spent several months in jail, until the government finally secured an indictment against him on March 7, 2022 ― two days after his defensce lawyers formally petitioned his release and the dismissal of the charges.
During that period, for reasons that were not completely clear, Denney never made an initial appearance in the US District Court for the District of Columbia as required, despite several failed attempts to arrange for one.
“To be sure, the government failed to comply with the Speedy Trial Act in this case,” prosecutors wrote in their Monday filing. “But there is no evidence of bad faith, a pattern of neglect or something more than an isolated incident that resulted from a number of unfortunate factors.”
The Justice Department has struggled to keep pace with the sprawling investigation into the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol by then-President Donald Trump's supporters, in a failed bid to block President Joe Biden's election win.
To date, more than 775 people have been charged.
According to media accounts, a US magistrate judge last week scolded the Justice Department for biting off more than it can chew, and saying it should not bring so many cases if it does not have the resources. ― Reuters