Feds amp up prosecution of those accused in third U.S. Supreme Court protest in little over a year
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Those arrested in two previous 99Rise protests that interrupted U.S. Supreme Court proceedings didn’t spend more than a day in jail.
But that may change concerning the five individuals taken into custody on April 1, following the third disruption for which 99Rise has claimed responsibility in little more than a year.
In addition to being charged with using loud or threatening language or making a harangue or oration like their predecessors, the five are also facing charges of picketing or parading with the intent of interfering with or obstructing the administration of justice, reports the Blog of Legal Times (sub. req.). Additionally, the defendants are being prosecuted in federal court instead of D.C. Superior Court.
The U.S. Attorney’s office declined to comment. The upgrade in charges, as well as the pursuit of the case in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, signals an effort to impose more significant punishment and discourage further protests inside the court, according to the Associated Press.
Seven individuals accused of participating in a January protest at the court by 99Rise were charged with offenses that carried a maximum penalty of 60 days and a $5,000 fine, the AP article reports. The new group of defendants, if convicted of the obstruction charge, could get as much as one year and $100,000.
Maximum penalties are rarely imposed, though, especially if the defendant doesn’t have a significant criminal record.
The January group pleaded guilty to the harangue offense and two additional charges of violating court rules by creating a disturbance. They were sentenced to one day, reports the BLT. Charges were dropped against an eighth individual accused of filming the protest, apparently with a pencam.
The 99Rise protests were focused on election-funding cases decided earlier by the nation’s top court.