A federal judge just issued a ruling which could turn the tide for all January 6 defendants.
The judge acquitted a January 6 defendant on all charges after ruling that the man “reasonably believed” he was allowed to enter the Capitol building during the protest against the 2020 stolen election after being let in by United States Capitol Police officers.
Judge Trevor McFadden “issued the verdict from the bench after hearing testimony without a jury in the case against Matthew Martin,” according to the Washington Post.
Martin was just the first January 6 defendant to be acquitted of all charges during his defense trial which means this ruling by the judge could set the tone for the rest of the defendants.
According to the Post, Martin “said he ‘went with the flow’ as he approached the Capitol and testified that he saw a police officer wave him into the building.”
The Post reported, “Martin was charged with four misdemeanor counts: entering and remaining in a restricted building, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building, violent entry and disorderly conduct in a Capitol building and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.”
However, Martin was only in the Capitol building for roughly 10 minutes on that day.
Buzzfeed detailed McFadden’s verdict:
“Announcing his decision from the bench, US District Judge Trevor McFadden said that although prosecutors argued there were numerous instances when Martin would have been aware that he wasn’t allowed on Capitol grounds or inside the building — as he walked past fences with signs saying “AREA CLOSED” and recorded video of a broken window, blaring alarms, police in riot gear, and people who appeared to have encountered tear gas — those were outweighed by Martin’s “plausible” belief that he had permission because officers didn’t try to stop him from entering.
McFadden said that Martin’s conduct was as ‘minimal and non-serious’ as the judge could imagine for someone who went into the Capitol on Jan. 6. He said that Martin seemed to be a ‘silent observer’ of the scene and didn’t try to crowd the police, protest, or wave the ‘Trump’ flag that he was carrying. Martin appeared ‘quiet’ and ‘orderly’ as he walked inside the building, filmed video inside the Rotunda similar to how the media would behave, and didn’t appear to interfere with officers as he filmed a clash with rioters later in the afternoon on a north terrace of the building.”
Alan Dershowitz, who is representing a separate January 6 defendant facing roughly 20 years in prison, said that the acquittal of Martin is “enormously important,” sets a legal precedent, and could swing momentum in favor of other January 6th defendants.
Brady Knowlton, who Dershowitz is representing, spent 18 minutes in the Capitol on January 6 after he and others passed several police officers walking in their opposite direction.
Knowlton said that an officer told them, “You can go in as long as you don’t break anything,” before watching police and protestors shaking hands.
Dershowitz said that “the subjective intent of the defendant is key,” noting that the judge took Martin’s word over that of the police and the prosecution. The courts “have to look at the state of mind of the defendant,” he said.
“If that’s the rule, we will win,” he said. “Because it’s clear Brady honestly and reasonably believed that he was not violating any rules or laws — that he was being welcomed — as long as he didn’t do any damage.”