By Jake Kaplan
Here are some of the legal news stories making headlines this week:
The first January 6th rioter to stand trial was found guilty on all counts he was charged with.
- Guy Reffitt was convicted of two counts of obstructing an official proceeding, two counts of civil disorder, and one count of entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a firearm. Reffitt will be sentenced in June.
- At trial, prosecutors presented evidence that Reffitt was a member of the far-right militia group “Texas Three Percenters,” and that he led a pack of rioters that breached the Capitol building from its west side. Reffitt did not enter the Capitol himself, but in a video he recorded on January 6th, he said, “I said I wasn’t leaving till I got in there. I didn’t make it in there. But I started the fire.” Reffitt was wearing body armor, and he carried handguns and zip ties with him that day.
- Reffitt was arrested in January 2021. But before the attack, Reffitt’s teenage son, Jackson Reffitt, alerted the FBI that his father was planning “something big.” Jackson Reffitt also testified against his father at trial.
- Meanwhile, prosecutors continue to pursue cases against other insurrectionists. Over 775 people have been charged in connection with the January 6th attack at the Capitol thus far. This week, a newly-unsealed indictment revealed that a grand jury charged the leader of the “Proud Boys” white supremacist group, Enrique Tarrio, with multiple crimes, including conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding.
The Supreme Court declined to review the Pennsylvania court decision that freed disgraced comedian Bill Cosby from jail.
- The Court order, which was released without comment, puts an end to one of the most high-profile criminal prosecutions of the #MeToo era.
- In 2018, a Pennsylvania jury convicted Cosby on three counts of aggravated indecent assault for sexually assaulting a woman in 2004. Cosby served three years of his three-to-ten-year prison sentence, until Pennsylvania’s highest court overturned the conviction last June. The court reasoned that Cosby was denied a fair trial because a former prosecutor’s alleged 2005 promise to not charge Cosby should have precluded the eventual charges against him. Therefore, Cosby was released.
- Last November, prosecutors asked the Supreme Court to overturn the Pennsylvania ruling and to send Cosby back to jail. The prosecutors argued that Cosby’s release set a dangerously broad precedent in granting immunity to potential defendants if a prosecutor publicly states that there is not sufficient evidence to charge the person at the time. The Supreme Court decided to let the decision stand.
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