Matthew Martin of Sante Fe, NM is currently the only defendant acquitted of charges since the Jan. 6 trials began at the end of February 2022. Since then, five defendants-Guy Reffitt, Couy Griffin, Thomas Robertson, Dustin Thompson, and Thomas Webster–were found guilty by DC District Court jurors.
American Gulag had an observer inside these recent trials. Here are factors which they believe contributed to individuals’ guilty verdicts:
*The defense needed to intentionally connect with the jury. The defense emphasized Webster’s respectful stature as a retired New York City police officer and a former US Marine. However, the brotherhood and tight communication it referenced in police and military culture did not connect with this particular jury. When yesterday’s trial of Webster began, most jurors indicated they were employed with federal agencies.
The jury ignored Webster’s testimony that his training led him to approach the front of the police line and attempt to help officers. When Webster said a Capitol Police officer made a provoking gesture signaling a fellow cop to a fight, this was also ignored.
However, the jury connected with deep-seated emotions the female prosecutors described. Although admonished by Judge Mehta to move on and make a point, US assistant attorney Colleen Kukowski repeatedly used the words “rage” and “anger.” This stayed with jurors throughout the trial. Prosecutors also used the phrase “Trump election fraud” and references to Webster as “a Trump supporter” at the beginning and end of the trial.
- *Most defense attorneys did not advocate for their clients. Attorney James Monroe (representing Webster in yesterday’s trial) was the only individual whom American Gulag noticed playing an assertive role in the proceedings.
There were multiple times during the Reffitt, Thompson, and Robertson trials when defense attorneys did not object. In addition, Guy Reffitt and Dustin Thompson did not even testify in their trials. Jurors in the Reffitt case specifically remarked how this seemed unusual, causing him appear guilty.
- *Judges rushed trials, announcing times they expected the jury to finish deliberating. During Matthew Webster’s trial Friday, Judge Amit Mehta referenced the “trial was taking too long.” He admonished the jury to finish deliberating by 4pm, though jurors received additional time.
During the Thompson trial, Judge Reggie Walton instructed the jury to reach a verdict by 5pm so he could leave the courtroom promptly and take two business days off for Easter.
In both scenarios, these instructions may create what some consider a ‘time fuse’ situation, potentially hindering the flow and ability of jurors to independently consider evidence.
American Gulag will continue observing trials and encourages members of the public to watch courtroom proceedings in person or via teleconference. You can find a calendar of upcoming hearings and more here.