A Trump-appointed federal judge on Tuesday repudiated an argument from a defendant charged with rioting at the U.S. Capitol that the Justice Department is discriminating against him because of his conservative beliefs, particularly in comparison to how prosecutors dropped 27 cases against alleged Portland rioters.
Defendant David Lee Judd has been charged with throwing a firecracker at U.S. Capitol Police officers in a tunnel entrance to the Capitol during the unrest that occurred on Jan. 6. Judd has pleased not guilty.
According to Judge Trevor McFadden of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Judd “argues that the Government has prosecuted him — a conservative — more harshly than liberal defendants accused of similar behavior during the riots that plagued Portland in the summer of 2020.”
Back in 2020, Portland was plagued by nightly violent protests as rioters clashed with police and inflicted damage on the Mark Hatfield Federal Courthouse.
Dozens of cases against the rioters, some of whom were charged with felony offenses, have since been dismissed by federal prosecutors, KGW-TV reported.
According to CNN, Judd wanted McFadden to compare DOJ records about prosecutions in Washington, D.C., and Portland. But McFadden wouldn’t do it.
“Although both Portland and January 6 rioters attacked federal buildings, the Portland defendants primarily attacked at night, meaning that they raged against a largely vacant courthouse,” he wrote on Tuesday.
“In contrast, the January 6 rioters attacked the Capitol in broad daylight. And many entered it. Thousands of congressional staffers walked the Capitol’s corridors that day. So did hundreds of legislators and the Vice President, all of whom appeared for a constitutionally mandated proceeding,” McFadden added.
“Putting aside any claims that January 6 rioters sought to tear down our system of government (an allegation not made against Judd), their actions endangered hundreds of federal officials in the Capitol complex,” he said. “The action in Portland, though destructive and ominous, caused no similar threat to civilians.”
McFadden is not the only federal judge to reject a similar comparison in recent weeks.
McFadden, for his part, did call out the DOJ for declining to pursue charges against so many alleged Portland rioters.
“Rarely has the Government shown so little interest in vigorously prosecuting those who attack federal officers,” he wrote.
“Especially during moments of politically charged unrest, the Justice Department must strive for even-handed justice. Judd raises troubling questions about the Department’s adherence to this imperative in Portland.”