Judge threatens to report lawyers for disciplinary action for slowing jailed 1/6 defendant's case
A federal judge in Washington, D.C., is threatening to report two attorneys for possible disciplinary action for delaying the trial of a man who has been jailed on charges that he assaulted police officers during the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol.
U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, questioned in court papers filed Thursday whether attorney Joseph McBride was being sincere when he said last summer that he needed to push Christopher Quaglin's October trial; McBride claimed that he had not yet recovered from a case of COVID-19 that he had contracted in May 2022, and that he had chronic Lyme disease, and treatment and recovery would take two to three months.
McBride said in his filing that his physicians had advised that he "needs to take an aggressive course of action to eradicate and neutralize this condition."
But the judge noted that at the same time, McBride — who represents several Jan. 6 defendants — continued to do media interviews and spoke in October to a Republican county committee about his fight for the "January 6 political prisoners." In November, McBride tweeted a picture of himself on the beach at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort and another photo inside Trump's 2024 campaign announcement party, McFadden wrote.
"While lawyers — like all citizens — are entitled to speak freely, these public representations by McBride call into question the genuineness of his need for a medical continuance because of his inability to represent Quaglin last October," McFadden wrote.
McFadden ordered McBride — who has since withdrawn from Quaglin's case — and another attorney for Quaglin, Jonathan Gross, to file a response by April 10 as to why the judge should not refer them to the court's committee on grievances, which investigates complaints against attorneys. The judge set a hearing for April 18.
In response to a journalist's tweet about the judge's order, McBride tweeted: "EVERYONE SHOULD SHOW UP FOR THIS TO HEAR THE TRUTH. LET'S GOOOOO!"
McBride withdrew from Quaglin's case this month — just weeks before the man's new April trial date — because McBride said he needed to focus on another Jan. 6 case headed to trial at the end of March. McBride told the judge that Gross would take over Quaglin's case, saying the switch wouldn't prejudice the defendant and that the other attorney "knows Quaglin's case well."
Soon after taking over the case, however, Gross told McFadden he planned to ask for the trial to be pushed again. McFadden wrote that Gross told the judge "that he does not practice criminal law and that he is not competent" to be Quaglin's lead attorney at trial in just a few weeks.
"Quaglin's attorneys have now delayed this trial multiple times to the detriment of their client, who remains detained, and to the inconvenience of his co-defendants and the Government who seek a speedy resolution to this matter," McFadden wrote. "Indeed, the Court has doubts that McBride's initial continuance request was made in good faith."
McBride said in a text message Friday that he denies the "insinuations" in McFadden's order about his representations to the court about his medical condition and continuance requests. McBride said he will respond to the court and looks forward to "displaying the truth and achieving a favorable resolution."
McBride also said his client believed the judge had so much personal animus toward McBride that Quaglin didn't think he could get a fair trial.
"As such, Mr. Quaglin asked me to step aside and help Mr. Gross take over the case — which is exactly what I did," McBride wrote.
Gross did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Quaglin is being held at the D.C. jail, where Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and others on the Committee on Oversight and Accountability visited Friday as some conservatives continue to try to portray Jan. 6 defendants as "political prisoners."
Of the 20 Jan. 6 defendants held in D.C. as of earlier this month, 17 were accused of assaulting officers at the Capitol, according to Just Security blog, which obtained a recent D.C. Department of Correction list. Six of the defendants have pleaded guilty to assaulting, resisting or impeding officers and two others have been convicted at trial.
A spokesperson for the D.C. jail didn't immediately respond to a request Friday from The Associated Press for an updated list of Jan. 6 defendants locked up there.
Quaglin, of North Brunswick, New Jersey, is accused of attacking several police officers trying to protect the Capitol from the angry pro-Trump mob that halted Congress' certification of President Joe Biden's victory.
Authorities say Quaglin attacked officers with a stolen riot shield and sprayed them with a chemical irritant. He faces charges including assaulting an officer using a dangerous weapon.
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