Note to self, venue matters! The Proud Boys (PB) were convicted individually, and probably collectively eventually, of conspiring to overthrow the government or interfere with the lawful election process. I will be reading closely to see any juror interviews of their jury. Think about how your average Washington, DC juror would view this case. A notoriously violent thug group comes to your city from out of state and joins the January 6th insurrection. Then, it turns out that they were doing their best to make the demonstration into a riot. The riot shut down large parts of the City for a while and was generally a truly disturbing event. But, I am guessing that there were no Trump / Maga supporters seated on the jury. So, next time you are going to foment insurrection, maybe take your protest to Alabama or Mississippi.
The PB defendants’ defense was hamstrung by endless text messages gloating about their roles in the riot. One of our own Pennsylvania citizens was convicted and he seems to be the unapologetic son of two Philadelphia police officers. More black eyes for Philly, which is still recovering from the shame of the dollar dog night at the Phillies game.
Interestingly, several of the PB defendants took the stand in their own defense. This is unusual in a criminal trial, though not infrequent. The risk of taking the stand is simply that you can be cross-examined and if you had sat silent you cannot be cross-examined. One statement at the trial stuck out to me. The Philly PB defendant said that he could not recall attacking a police officer. Now, I often instruct clients in preparation for depositions that it is no big deal to say I don’t recall provided you don’t recall. It may sound lawyerly or coached, but it is an easy substitute for no or I don’t have a clue etc. It allows the witness to backtrack if there is contrary proof of their not recalling. However, in a criminal trial or really any trial, not recalling something significant is going to generate an eye roll from your jury. Why don’t you recall whether or not you attacked an officer? Is that something you do often? Was the whole day a fog and you have no idea what happened? Basically, the defense seemed focused on making the PB defendants guilty, but only guilty like the others who stormed the capitol. This is an understandable position, but the text messages and other evidence seemed to have undermined this attempt in the jury’s eyes. Maybe it would have gotten a more forgiving hearing elsewhere. Think about the bizarre Kyle Rittenhouse verdict or other similar miscarriages of justice. Why is this outcome different? Maybe the venue?