The federal defense contractor was accused of four misdemeanors, including entering and remaining in a restricted building. Judge Trevor McFadden today acquitted the defendant on all counts. Matthew Martin was accused of entering and staying in a restricted structure, disorderly or disruptive conduct within a restricted facility, violent entry, and disorderly conduct inside a Capitol Building. He also faces charges for parading and demonstrating in the Capitol building.
But Martin didn’t commit any violence or break into the building. Martin claimed that he thought that the Capitol Police allowed him to enter the building and that he simply walked into it.
McFadden said that, based on video of the scene, that assertion was at least “plausible” and that prosecutors failed to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.
“People were streaming by and the officers made no attempt to stop the people,” said the judge [….]
“I do think the defendant reasonably believed the officers allowed him into the Capitol,” the judge said.
McFadden said that the government did not show any evidence of Martin crossing police lines, and that Martin’s “conduct was about as minimal….as I can imagine.”
It is an important verdict. While some are charged with more serious offenses, many of the people charged for Jan. 6 offenses are in a similar position to Martin — they didn’t do much beyond walk into the building. Some have argued — as Martin did — that the police let them in.
McFadden pointed out inconsistencies in how Jan.6 defendants were treated in the past. McFadden stated that there was a significant difference between the Jan.6 cases being handled by prosecutors and the cases that were dealt with in the past, which may have been involving leftist protesters.
“It does feel like the government has had two standards here, and I can’t abide by that,” McFadden said. The judge added that before Jan. 6, 2021, he could not remember seeing a nonviolent, first-time misdemeanant “sentenced to serious jail time … regardless of their race, gender or political affiliation.”
McFadden stated that Jenny Cudd was being held in prison for seventy-five days for misdemeanor theft on January 6. But meanwhile, the judge noted the same prosecutors’ office asked for 10 days in jail in the case of a repeat offender activist Tighe Barry connected to the left-wing group Code Pink.
The judge said that the same prosecutor’s office in 2019 sought 10 days behind bars for Barry, who stood on a chair, held up a poster, and shouted at senators from the back row in one of Kavanaugh’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearings in September 2018, and returned to protest three weeks later in violation of a stay-away order.
“The government’s sentencing recommendation here is just so disproportionate to other sentences for people who have engaged in similar conduct,” said McFadden, who added that Barry, a frequent demonstrator with 14 prior arrests, had accidentally knocked a chair into a bystander when Capitol Police arrested him. “I don’t believe in some sort of aggregate justice.”
We’ve seen another judge question the treatment of Jan. 6 defendants in the past.
McFadden’s decision, in this case, is likely to throw a wrench into the political narrative about the riot — and it’s already causing some on the left to melt down.