A federal judge today denied Richard “Bigo” Barnett‘s motions to strike all of the charges resulting from his participation in the Jan 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. In a separate ruling, the judge withheld an immediate decision on whether to postpone Barnett’s trial now set for Dec. 12.
Ruling in Washington, U.S. District Judge Christopher R. Cooper also refused to grant Barnett’s to move his trial from Washington to the Western District of Arkansas, where Barnett lives in Gravette. The judge said it’s premature to argue that the court in Washington cannot seat an unbiased jury until attorneys have had a chance to question prospective jurors.
You’ll recall that Barnett posed for pictures with his feet propped up on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi‘s desk. “Barnett also drafted a profane note for Speaker Pelosi and left with an official envelope addressed from her to a fellow House member,” Cooper wrote.
Barnett is charged with seven counts, including obstruction of an official proceeding, entering a restricted building with a deadly or dangerous weapon, and theft of government property.
Barnett had sought dismissal of all seven counts on the ground that publicity had tainted the jury pool throughout the country.
“The Court does not doubt that, given the extensive media coverage, many prospective jurors will be generally knowledgeable about the events of January 6th” Cooper wrote. “But, ‘the right to an impartial jury does not require ignorance.’ … Accordingly, the Court will determine whether individual prospective jurors harbor bias or prejudice and whether an impartial jury can be impaneled through voir dire, [questioning process] as it has done in other January 6th trials.”
Cooper said he would reserve judgment on delaying Barnett’s trial until he is advised of the dates when both parties would be available for trial after “a brief continuance.”
“If the parties cannot offer a date that also conforms with the Court’s schedule, the Court will deny the motion and proceed with the scheduled trial,” the judge wrote.
The judge also let Barnett’s defense attorneys know that their arguments for a trial delay did not impress him.
“The Court finds that none of the reasons advanced in the Defendant’s motion are grounds for a continuance. This case was charged nearly two years ago, one trial date has already been vacated at the defense’s request, and the present date was set over four months ago. Defense counsel, which now number at least three, have had more than ample time to prepare for trial,” the judge wrote.
“The defense has not identified any material evidence that it is lacking, either from the government’s voluminous production of both case-specific and global discovery, or from other public sources. Nor is the pendency of the appeal” in a separate Jan. 6 case “an impediment to trial.”
The judge also took a jab at the government for agreeing to a brief delay after noting it was expecting a change in trial counsel. The government “should have planned accordingly,” he wrote.