Federal appeals court orders re-sentencing Jan. 6 rioter over improper sentencing enhancements – JURIST

The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit ruled Friday that enhancements were improperly applied to the sentencing of a participant in the January 6, 2021 Capitol riot. The court ordered that the participant be re-sentenced, which is a decision that could potentially affect the sentences of hundreds of other rioters sentenced for their participation on January 6.

Larry Brock was convicted of six crimes for his role in the January 6 riots. The court applied sentencing enhancements to his conviction on the basis that his crimes were a “substantial interference with the administration of justice.” Brock was given 24 months of imprisonment for felony obstruction of an official proceeding and a concurrent sentence of 6 to 12 months of jail each for five other misdemeanors. The district court rejected Brock’s argument that the “administration of justice” enhancement only applied to interference in a judicial proceeding and found that the scope of the enhancement more broadly applied to “official proceedings” as well.

Brock’s arguments found more weight with the appeals court who affirmed the convictions but ruled that the district courts application of the “administration of justice” enhancement was erroneous since the enhancement did not apply to “interference with the legislative process of certifying electoral votes.” The court said that the certification of electoral votes “did not fit the administration of justice [enhancements] mold” and that the process of the electoral college at large did not resemble the judicial investigation and determinations of individual rights that tend to characterize the “administration of justice.”

The decision casts into doubt the sentences of other rioters as the wrongly applied enhancement often allowed judges to increase the sentences for their crimes beyond a year. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has not yet commented on whether they intend to further appeal the issue.

Meanwhile, the US Supreme Court’s hearing of an appeal of rioters obstruction of justice convictions is set for oral arguments in April.


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