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Appeals court says certain Jan. 6 defendants were improperly sentenced

By Stew Davidson
March 2, 2024

In Washington, D.C., a federal appeals court has determined that some criminal defendants charged in connection with the Capitol unrest of Jan. 6, 2021, had their sentences unjustly enhanced.

On Friday, the court identified that the inclusion of "interference with the administration of justice" as part of the sentencing for defendant Larry Brock was inappropriate, as Fox News reported.

Circuit Judge Patricia Millett clarified the court's stance, emphasizing that disrupting the Congressional process of certifying electoral votes does not warrant a sentence enhancement for such interference.

"Brock challenges both the district court's interpretation of Section 1512(c)(2) 's elements and the sufficiency of the evidence to support that conviction. He also challenges the district court's application of the three-level sentencing enhancement for interfering with the 'administration of justice," the judge explained.

The appeals court concurred with Brock's conviction but objected to the sentencing method, specifically stating, "As for Brock's sentence, we hold that the 'administration of justice' enhancement does not apply to interference with the legislative process of certifying electoral votes."

Implications for Other Defendants

The case of Larry Brock, whose involvement in the Capitol riot led to an escalated sentence based on the "interference" charge, will now be sent back to the district court for resentencing.

This pivotal decision casts doubt on the sentences of other defendants who were subjected to longer terms under the same charge, hinting at a potential reevaluation of their sentences.

Background and Charges Against Brock

Larry Brock faced arrest on Jan. 6, 2021, initially charged with entering restricted premises unlawfully and engaging in violent and disorderly conduct.

The "interference" charge was subsequently added, painting a broader picture of his actions during the riot.

Brock had participated in the "Stop the Steal Rally" before heading to the Capitol.

The U.S. Attorney's Office, D.C. detailed his entry into the Senate Chamber and subsequent behavior.

His conduct included discouraging disrespect towards the vice president's chair and attempting to mediate a conflict.

"When he arrived, Brock ascended the Upper West Terrace and entered the building through the door to the Senate Wing.

After exiting, "he attempted to open a set of secured doors marked 'U.S. Senate' with an unidentified set of keys," according to the prosecution's account of Brock's activities on that tumultuous day.

In his time within the Capitol, Brock was noted for his actions, which, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office, included a brief period where he surveyed the Senate floor, advising others on conduct and attempting to mitigate a confrontation with Capitol Police officers.

The court's ruling underscores a critical examination of the legal interpretations and the evidential basis for convictions related to the Jan. 6 events.

The decision marks a significant moment in the ongoing judicial proceedings against those involved and raises potentially significant implications for other defendants.