Appeals court tosses Jan. 6 sentence in ruling that could affect more than 100 cases

Appeals court tosses Jan. 6 sentence in ruling that could affect more than 100 cases © Provided by NBC News

WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court on Friday tossed out a portion of a Jan. 6 defendant’s sentence that could affect more than a hundred other cases related to the 2021 attack on the Capitol.

The ruling by a three-judge panel in Washington, D.C., looked at a lower court’s “enhanced” sentencing of a defendant over his “substantial interference with the administration of justice” on the day Congress was certifying Joe Biden‘s victory over Donald Trump. The appeals court ruled that “‘administration of justice’ does not encompass Congress’s role in the electoral certification process.”

The ruling potentially opens the door to the resentencing of Jan. 6 defendants who were hit with similar sentences as Larry Brock, who appealed his case to the Washington court. The panel upheld Brock’s overall conviction.

“We must apply the Guideline as written, and Brock’s interference with one stage of the electoral college vote-counting process — while no doubt endangering our democratic processes and temporarily derailing Congress’s constitutional work — did not interfere with the ‘administration of justice,’” said the ruling, filed by Judge Patricia A. Millett.

Brock had been convicted of six charges, including “corruptly obstructing Congress’s certification of the electoral count.” Former President Donald Trump also faces a charge alleging that he obstructed an official proceeding. He has pleaded not guilty.

More than 100 defendants in Jan. 6 cases have had the enhancement applied to their cases, said Patricia Hartman, a spokesperson for the D.C. U.S. attorney’s office.

More than 1,300 defendants have been charged in connection to the Jan. 6 riot. Around 750 have pleaded guilty to federal charges, and about 785 have been sentenced.

The Supreme Court is set to decide a separate Jan. 6 defendant’s appeal related to obstruction charges. The high court’s ruling will impact other Jan. 6 defendants accused of similar obstruction charges as well.