WASHINGTON (KNWA/KFTA) — The defense team for a Gravette man charged for his actions during the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol filed multiple pretrial motions just before a deadline to do so set by the federal court.
Richard Barnett, 61, is facing a host of charges and his trial is set to begin on December 12. On September 22, Barnett’s defense filed a pair of motions and two responses to prosecution motions.
The first motion asks the court to dismiss the first count against Barnett for “failure to state an offense.” Count one of the indictment reads that Barnett “attempted to, and did, corruptly obstruct, influence, and impede an official proceeding, that is, a proceeding before Congress, by entering and remaining in the United States Capitol without authority and engaging in disorderly and disruptive conduct.”
The defense filing claims that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has taken a relevant statute “completely out of context,” stating that “Section 1512(c) was designed for one purpose—to prevent a party from altering, tampering, destroying, or otherwise making evidence unavailable.”
It adds that regarding January 6-related cases, the “history and purpose” behind the statute in question have been “flatly ignored.”
“The Government is using [the statute] as a means of prosecuting felonies where at best a misdemeanor may apply,” it added. The filing also says that Barnett was never near the House of Senate chamber and was not inside the Capitol when debate related to the electoral count was stopped and Congress was evacuated.
The filing calls the statute “unconstitutional in arbitrary application” and thus asks for the charge to be dismissed.
The defense’s second motion is a request precluding the prosecution’s use of certain “inflammatory” terms and language, including the following:
- terrorism (and terrorist)
- insurrection (and insurrectionist)
- attack on the Capitol
- attack on Congress
- attack on Democracy/threat to Democracy
- white supremacy/white supremacists
- police were killed
- stun gun
- Proud Boys
- Oath Keepers
The motion also requests a ban on references to “places on the grounds or in the Capitol where he did not go.”
These are terms whose value, if any, is significantly outweighed by their proclivity to provoke an emotional response from the jury, as well as the entirely foreseeable prejudice that is certain to occur from their admission.
Richard Barnett defense motion in limine, September 22
The filing states that “no police were killed by events at the Capitol on January 6, 2021 and Mr. Barnett was not involved in any violence.” The motion adds that any references to former President Trump’s “Stop-the-Steal” lawsuits and court challenges should also be prohibited.
“The legal significance of any lawsuits brought by parties, unrelated to Mr. Barnett, to challenge the elections is irrelevant to Mr. Barnett’s conduct on January 6, 2021 and should be excluded,” it states. The motion continues by asking that any photos from Barnett’s phone that are irrelevant to the case should also be excluded, noting that these may need to be evaluated “on a photo-by-photo basis.”
The defense adds that any reference to guns legally purchased by Barnett would be prejudicial and should also be excluded, as well as any references to “previous protests, events, and/or activism related to guns or the 2nd Amendment of the United States Constitution due to having no probative value and being irrelevant.”
“The government should not be allowed to achieve a conviction through the deliberate provocation of bias in the jury,” the filing says.
The defense’s third filing was made in opposition to a government request to exclude the defense from introducing three categories of evidence: evidence or argument related to any potential penalty, evidence or argument intended to elicit jury nullification and defense evidence not produced in reciprocal discovery and expert witnesses and affirmative defenses not identified pursuant to the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.
The defense outlined its reasoning for asking that all of those categories be allowed. It continues by stating that President Biden’s “continued defamatory statements about January 6th Defendants and MAGA Republicans in conjunction with the actions of the January 6th Committee, have prejudiced him to the extent that dismissal of his indictment is warranted.” Failing that, the defense recommends a change of venue as an alternative “because it is impossible for him to receive a fair trial in the District of Columbia.”
The final filing related to the defense’s ability to cross-examine a U.S. Secret Service agent that the prosecution plans to call as a witness. The government has stated that security protocols require limiting the scope of questions that the Secret Service can be asked during the trial.
“This material information must be explored on cross-examination,” the defense stated in asking for the government’s request to be denied.
Attorney Jonathan Gross was added as co-counsel for Barnett on September 23.
Barnett is charged with: Obstruction of an Official Proceeding; Aiding and Abetting; Entering and Remaining in a Restricted Building or Grounds with a Deadly or Dangerous Weapon; Disorderly and Disruptive Conduct in a Restricted Building or Grounds with a Deadly or Dangerous Weapon; Entering and Remaining in Certain Rooms in the Capitol Building; Disorderly Conduct in a Capitol Building; Parading, Demonstrating, or Picketing in a Capitol Building; Theft of Government Property.
He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.