Multiple Jan. 6 defendants have already been impacted by the Supreme Court’s decision to take a case weighing the scope of an obstruction statute central to their prosecution.
Federal judges put on hold the cases of defendants Ethan Seitz and Ryan Zink pending the Supreme Court’s ruling. Meanwhile, defendants Matt Bledsoe and Sandra Weyer are asking to be released as the justices consider the statute.
The Supreme Court accepted a case Dec. 13 that considers the scope of Section 1512(c)(2), which threatens to levy fines or up to 20 years in prison for anyone who “obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding.” Defendant Joseph Fischer, who was one of hundreds of defendants the Department of Justice charged under the statute for obstructing Congress’s certification of President Joe Biden’s 2020 victory, asked the Supreme Court to weigh in on the question.
“Hundreds of cases have been and will be affected by the scope of Section 1512(c)(2), including a case against the former President,” Fischer’s petition states. “In addition, the use of Section 1512(c)(2) outside evidence impairment crimes is an extraordinary and unprecedented extension of the statute’s reach.”
Judge Beryl Howell sentenced Bledsoe to 48 months in prison in Oct. 2022. His attorney argued in a filing Sunday that his sentence would likely be reduced to be “less than the time he has now already served” if the Supreme Court rejects the DOJ’s interpretation of the obstruction statute.
Weyer’s attorney likewise wrote in a Sunday filing that a decision in her favor would likely “result in a reduced imprisonment sentence that would expire before her appeal concludes.” The attorney noted that her challenge is stronger than the one pending at the Supreme Court.
“Unlike Fischer, Weyer was not charged with violent or assaultive conduct,” the filing states. “She entered the Capitol Building where she wandered around for approximately 11 minutes, searched for her brother, and did not enter the House or Senate Chamber or congressmember’s offices.”