US District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich has raised some questions over the statutes which prosecutors have used to charge several people involved in the January 6 incident at the United States Capitol building.

Guy Wesley Reffitt, 48 years old, is being charged first with transporting a weapon for use in a riot, and second with obstruction. The statute for this charge states that it can be used against “[w]hoever corruptly otherwise obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding, or attempts to do so.”

This statute, 18 USC 1512(c)(2), is being used to charge over 100 January 6 attendees. Judge Friedrich, who is overseeing the Reffitt trial, has casted doubt on its ability to be used against him.

First, the typical use is when it’s applied to intimidation of witnesses or jurors or judges, or to those who have destroyed records or evidence.

It should be used, prosecutors argue, as the persons entering the Capitol interrupted an “official proceeding” by Congress in their attempts to certify the 2020 election. However, the judge is questioning whether the law applies in this (and, ergo, most of these) cases.


Her issue is with the word “corruptly” that’s used in the statute. “This is a vague, undefined word,” she said, speaking to prosecutor Jeff Nestler. “When you’re looking at such an undefined term that you’re interpreting so broadly…you’re basically saying the meaning of ‘corruptly’ is ‘wrongful.'”

“But what does that mean?” the judge retorted. “The jury needs to decide what’s evil? That doesn’t have meaning. It’s standardless.”

Friedrich is the third judge to question the use of the statute in January 6-related cases.


The prosecution was ordered to enter a Bill of Particulars by November 29 to outline how they’ll prove the case.

Another defendant in the January 6 incident, Thomas Sibick, has been released to his parents while he awaits trial. His attorney, Stephen Brennwald, has stated that the inmates from the incident have been meeting nightly to say the pledge of allegiance and since the Star Spangled Banner, and feels this act is “cult-like.”

“I think the court may know this but every night at 9:00 p.m., the folks there stand up and sing the Star-Spangled Banner,” Brennwald said. “I was on the phone with [Sibick] a month ago and we talked, and in the middle of our talk he said ‘I have to put the phone down, I’ll be right back. They’ll be angry of I don’t go over there.’

“It was literally this herd mentality. They’re literally singing, most of them off-key, literally singing the song, almost cult-like. It was pretty scary actually.”

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