Judge denies effort to throw out charges against Oath Keepers in Capitol riot case

A federal judge on Tuesday denied an effort to dismiss some of the charges against a group of Capitol riot participants affiliated with the Oath Keepers in one of the more serious prosecutions following Jan. 6. 

U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta denied three of 18 co-defendants' motions to dismiss charges, including entering and remaining on restricted grounds and destruction of government property. 

The judge ruled that the co-defendants had failed to show that charges were misapplied in the context of the Capitol riot.


Mehta has yet to rule on the challenges to the most serious charge against the 18 co-defendants — obstruction of an official proceeding — which carries a maximum possible sentence of 20 years in prison. 

Prosecutors allege that the group conspired ahead of the riot and coordinated its movements during the chaos. To date, it is the largest case the Justice Department has brought following Jan. 6 and has some of the most serious charges.

In a 12-page decision on Tuesday, Mehta, an Obama appointee, also rejected a defendant's effort to have the case transferred out of Washington, D.C., over concerns that the district's political leanings would prejudice a jury pool. 

Mehta wrote that the defendant, Thomas Edward Caldwell, "has utterly failed to present any evidence of actual bias in the jury pool."

The decision comes a week after a hearing in which Mehta tore into Caldwell's attorney for suggesting that D.C. residents despise "traditional values" and thus would be unable to offer the defendant a fair hearing. 

"This brief — and I will be reserved about what I'm about to say — reads less like a legal brief than something you might read on a blog," the judge said at the time. "And that's not acceptable. I expect better from you. I expect better from every other lawyer in this courtroom."