There were massive protests in Washington DC on the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration and the authorities rounded up large numbers of people. Of course, it will not do to have people protesting in the streets. What do these people think, that they are living in a democracy? So in order to deter such unseemly behavior in the future, the authorities decided to throw the book at the arrested people, charging them with conspiracy to riot, that could have resulted in decades in prison if they were found guilty.
The first group of people were found not guilty of all charges. And today, prosecutors withdrew charges against another group of six people after revelations that they had behaved unethically. As Kelly Weill explains:
The government’s conspiracy case was already weak. A superseding indictment against the initial group of approximately 200 defendants accused them of conspiracy based on evidence as thin as the defendants wearing black or walking in groups that chanted anti-capitalist slogans. The defendants have been tried in groups, and the first group of defendants were found not guilty on all charges. After the acquittals, prosecutors dropped the cases against more than 100 defendants, but continued to press charges against 59 people.
Those remaining charges relied heavily on the Project Veritas videos, which, as defense attorneys first noted last week, had been secretly edited after Project Veritas gave the footage to the government. According to a court provision called the Brady rule, prosecutors must disclose potentially exculpatory evidence in their possession. A judge threatened sanctions against the prosecutors for hiding the doctored footage, but let the case proceed.
But with scrutiny mounting, prosecutors admitted in a Wednesday email that they had withheld 69 other Project Veritas recordings (66 videos and three audio files, ThinkProgress reported), in violation of the Brady rule. The prosecutors moved to drop six of the ongoing cases that relied on evidence from the Project Veritas footage, calling the controversy “a distraction from the conduct of the defendants,” the media collective Unicorn Riot reported.
Judge Robert Morin slammed prosecutors for implying to him that they only had one Project Veritas video.
Who would have thought that prosecutors in the US would get caught doctoring evidence in order to get convictions, like in some banana republics? This is America, dammit! We expect our prosecutors to be much more expert and professional and have ways to doctor evidence and frame the innocent without getting caught.
More than fifty people still have charges pending.