The leader of the right-wing Proud Boys group charged with conspiring to use force against the government at the Capitol on Jan. 6 has asked a federal judge to dismiss the criminal charges against him, citing a defense witness’ alleged intent to invoke the Fifth Amendment at trial.
In a motion filed Monday, lawyers for Enrique Tarrio said that prosecutors are interfering with their client’s Sixth Amendment right to call favorable witnesses at trial by refusing to grant immunity to Lt. Shane Lamond, a 22-year veteran of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). Lamond was placed on administrative leave in February after communications between him and members of the right-wing group were discovered. Tarrio had allegedly been in contact with Lamond about his group’s plans to come to Washington to attend and participate in Donald Trump’s so-called “Stop the Steal” rally.
“Lamond has substantial exculpatory information to provide regarding Tarrio and most, if not all, the co-defendants in the instant case,” the motion says. “The government claims that Lamond is under investigation and is in danger of being prosecuted for criminal charges, forcing him to invoke his Fifth Amendment right and preventing him from testifying at Tarrio’s trial. The government refuses to seek use immunity for Lamond‟s testimony. Tarrio has a constitutional right to elicit this exculpatory testimony, but cannot exercise his constitutional right to do so based on the government’s actions.”
Lamond, who is also believed to have communicated with members of the far-right group Patriot Front, has been cooperating with federal authorities in the investigation, according to Tarrio’s motion.
Prosecutors have said that Lamond may still face criminal obstruction charges, according to the motion, and have refused to grant him immunity — a move that Tarrio’s lawyers Sabino Juaregui and Nayib Hassan have described as an unconstitutional legal tactic that would stop their client from sharing exculpatory evidence at trial.
“The government was informed by the defense months ago of their intention to call Lamond to testify,” the motion says. “At no point was Lamond in danger of being prosecuted, until now. On the eve of trial, the government contacted counsel for Lamond and informed him that Lamond’s actions might be considered obstruction of justice into Tarrio’s investigation and he may be prosecuted. Waiting until now is a tactical decision by the government to prevent Tarrio from exercising his constitutional right to present a defense. Knowing that Lamond‟s testimony would exonerate Tarrio at trial and depriving Tarrio of his constitutional right is impermissible.”
Juaregui and Hassan have asked U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly to dismiss the indictment, which alleges that Tarrio, along with co-defendants plotted to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s presidential win over Trump in the 2020 presidential election. According to prosecutors and at least one member of the group who has pleaded guilty, Tarrio and others who were part of the group’s “Ministry of Self Defense” (MOSD) chapter used encrypted messaging applications to communicate ways to block the certification.
“Preventing Lamond from testifying by holding an ostensible continuing investigation over his head violates Tarrio‟s Sixth Amendment right to compulsory process of witnesses who would testify in his defense,” the motion says. “If the government declines to immunize Lt[.] Lamond, then the indictment against Tarrio should be dismissed.”
Tarrio’s lawyers say their client told Lamond of all of his group’s plans — hardly something a seditious conspirator would do.
“Tarrio informed Lamond of the Proud Boys January 6 plans; to wit: they would not be wearing colors to protect themselves from being attacked and stabbed by Antifa as they had been on two previous occasions; they planned to be present to watch Trump;s speech; Tarrio planned to speak at the rally; they planned to protest the results of the election, and later that night they planned to party with plenty of beer and babes,” the motion says, adding that Lamond was in communication with Tarrio during “some of the key events” that allegedly occurred, according to the indictment.
“Lamond’s testimony is critical for Tarrio to receive a fair trial,” the motion says. “There is a substantial likelihood that Lamond‟s testimony would exculpate Tarrio. If Tarrio planned a seditious conspiracy and/or a conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, would he tell his law enforcement his every move?”
A federal district judge in a separate high-profile Jan. 6 case rejected similar protestations from lawyers for members of the Oath Keepers who expressed concerns over defense witnesses who similarly had not been granted immunity.
Tarrio’s lawyers say that other co-defendants’ attorneys in the case “have had similar experiences with the government intimating and pressuring exculpatory defense witnesses,” adding that the “tactic is a misuse of the government‟s power and unconstitutional.”
According to a Washington Post report, Juaregui and Hassan signaled their intention to call Lamond as a witness during a hearing on Friday before Kelly, a Trump appointee.
The seditious conspiracy trial of Tarrio and his co defendants is scheduled to start Dec. 19. He is charged alongside Ethan Nordean, Zachary Rehl, and Joe Biggs; a fifth co-defendant, Charles Donohoe, pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy in April and has been cooperating with the government.
Read Tarrio’s motion here.
[Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.]
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