Attorney Sounds Alarm On Criminal Gag Order Placed on J6 Defendants: ‘It’s The Most Astounding Chill On Free Speech That I’ve Ever Seen’

Federal judges in tandem with the Justice Department and the US Federal Bureau of Prisons are punishing J6 defendants for refusing to renounce their beliefs, speaking out about the cruel and unusual treatment they are subjected and raising money to pay for their attorney fees and commissary while detained.

Judges are adding years to a J6 defendant’s sentence for conducting interviews with the media. Correction officers and jail staff are also retaliating against inmates for exposing their horrific stories of prisoner abuse to the American public.

One high-profile J6 defendant has been locked in a 6-by-8-foot cell in solitary confinement while he’s been dragged through the mud by the media for the past two years and a half years. The left claims he is a white supremacist ad infinitum while the right is concerned he is a fed.

Attempting to set the record straight when his fate is in the hands of an activist judge and prison comes with great risk, the political prisoner, who asked his name be withheld, told The Gateway Pundit.

He warned a judge just added years to Peter Schwartz’s sentence for talking to the media and fundraising and surmises he and his co-defendants should keep a low profile until the judge issues their sentence.

Criminal defense attorney Steven Metcalf confirmed a judge gave Schwartz a longer sentence for speaking out.

The new implicit gag order on J6ers is just the tip of the iceberg. DC courts have readjusted bail reform for J6ers, Metcalf told TGP in an exclusive interview.

“January 6 has taken a life of its own,” he said. “The Washington DC courts have added various different factors to the Bail Reform Act that have made it more difficult for certain defendants to get out. I’ll give you a prime example: It started off that the standard had been changed for certain defendants they did not want to release. The bail reform act got readjusted. It changed to, ‘If you celebrated the actions that day, that factor would be used against you and whether you should be released or not. 

But what happened if you were somebody who did not celebrate and just remained silent? If you were somebody who did not say anything at all, then the standard became, ‘Well you did not say you were sorry or express sympathy or renounce whatever your beliefs were. They put the bar so high. Who goes to a demonstration and says the next day or two days later, ‘Oh my God, what I did was so wrong’? That’s essentially an admission.”

The standard applied to J6 defendants, unconstitutional pre-trial detention, had never been employed in thousands of other bail reform decisions, Metcalf continued.

“They actually set a standard that in order for you to receive bond, you literally have to make an admission that what you did was wrong or express remorse for your actions. When I say ‘They said,’ this is court decisions actually talking about this, actually discussing these factors that I’ve never seen in any bail reform analysis, ever, and I’ve reviewed thousands of bail reform decisions.

“That was just the starting point. It started off as crazy.”

Defense attorney Steven Metcalf

Metcalf represents several J6 defendants including Marine Corp veteran Dominic Pezzola, the only Proud Boy who was acquitted of seditious conspiracy. Pezzola and his co-defendants Enrique Tarrio, Joseph Biggs, Ethan Nordean and Zachary Rehl were barred access from discovery throughout the trial. Many J6ers have also been prohibited from submitting evidence to the court that indict the government’s actions on January 6 and malfeasance arbitrated by police, intelligence agencies and Justice Department.

“Now people who pled or were found guilty have to worry about whether or not they spoke to a media outlet and tried to speak their truth or exercise their First Amendment rights. I mean, these are people that are not sentenced defendants yet. Once you are a sentenced defendant, the rules do change. But if you are not sentenced yet and not fully convicted, you still have First Amendment rights.

“So now, here’s the next chill of free speech: not only are you not allowed to present evidence in your trial if you go to trial, but then interviews are held against you. So, from day one –with bond and throughout the course of your case and being able to raise a First Amendment argument before your sentencing — anytime you speak out, it’s going to be used against you. So, it’s a chill. It’s the most ridiculous, astounding chill on free speech that I’ve ever seen.”

On May 4, US District Judge Amit Mehta sentenced Peter Schwartz to 14 years in prison for pepper-spraying officers during the Jan. 6 protest, one the longest prison sentences among hundreds of Capitol protest cases. Prosecutors had recommended a prison sentence of 24 years and 6 months.

Schwartz raised over $71,000 from an online fundraising campaign titled “Patriot Pete Political Prisoner in DC.” Prosecutors asked Mehta to order Schwartz to pay a fine equaling the amount raised by his campaign, arguing that he shouldn’t profit from participating in the riot.

Instead, Metha added more years to Schwartz’s sentence.

Amit Priyavadan Mehta - Ballotpedia
US District Judge Amit Mehta

“The government was seeking 23 years against this man. He got 14 for assaulting police officers without injuries,” Metcalf said.  “Schwartz from my understanding was convicted of numerous assaults on police officers. In New York assaults are broken down by degree based on the injury — I don’t know about any degree of injury, at all [in Schwartz’s case.]

“A factor in the government seeking that amount of time was the amount of fundraising and the amount of time that he would speak.”

Weeks later, Judge Mehta issued Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes to 18 years for seditious conspiracy, the longest sentence of any J6er. The Obama-appointed magistrate applied “terror enhancement” penalties to add years to Rhodes’ sentence.

Mehta scolded Rhodes during the sentencing for arguing in an interview days prior that the 2020 election was stolen, i.e., wrong think.

“You recently said in an interview that the 2020 election was not only stolen but taken by unconstitutional means. You said you had to find a way to fix that. Nothing has changed. The moment you are released you’ll be prepared to take up arms against your government because you think that’s the appropriate way to find redress,” the judge said. 

When Rhodes took the stand during the sentencing hearing he refuted the government’s claims about the Oath Keepers being a white supremacist organization and maintained that he and every J6er is are political prisoners.

Criminal defense attorney Norm Pattis suspects Rhode’s decision to stand firm in his political conviction added years to his sentence.

“I give Rhodes a lot of credit for getting into the court and not wetting himself and saying, Oh, I’m so sorry. I’m an idiot,’ you know, ‘I don’t believe in what I did.’ He stood there and he took his lumps,” Pattis told TGP. “He probably caught three or four more years than the judge was prepared to impose because he said, ‘I had the courage of my convictions, then and I got it now.’

“We need more Stewart Rhodes. I’m disappointed that so many of the guys are backing down, you know, for the sake of a year to year. If they thought the country was in peril [on January 6], what do they think now? It’s in greater jeopardy in my view.”

The judiciary is attempting to “strangle” support for J6ers and facilitating “massive prosecutorial overreach,” explained Pattis, an attorney representing Proud Boys leader Joseph Biggs who was convicted of seditious conspiracy on May 4.

“The government starting to amend sentencing pitches to try to seize funds that people have raised, and so the government is entirely vindictive and punitive in ways that are offensive, even shocking, and disgusted by all,” he said. “The way the government justifies this is when they are aware that a person had a court-appointed lawyer and they see that that person raised funds they’re seeking to seize the funds raised on the theory that those funds didn’t go to the lawyer and the defendant ought not to profit as it were from his or her misconduct. So that’s their justification,” he said. “They’re not trying to take money out of a lawyer’s mouth –I think is what [the government] would say — the notion that they’re going after funds that these people need to raise to support their families is no less as offensive, however, than taken out of a lawyer’s mouth. So it’s a shitty piece of work.

“The idea that you’re going to try to strangle these guys of whatever support they have in the community is particularly chilling. [The Proud Boys] case radicalized me. I was always out there a little bit. I’m a little further out there now — I don’t know why we need a Justice Department,” he continued. “The government is an equal opportunity oppressor and in this case, the Proud Boys and other J6 defendants are a victim, in my view, of massive prosecutorial overreach. The judiciary has not stood in the way of that and it’s a shame. It is made it has caused many people to lose faith in our institutions, I certainly have a lot less faith in them than I did a couple of years ago.”

According to a review of court records conducted by the Associated Press, prosecutors in more than 1,000 Jan. 6 criminal cases are asking judges to impose fines in addition to prison sentences to retaliate against defendants who received donations from supporters.

Over 90 percent of the J6 defendants are low to middle class and cannot afford private attorneys and are represented by court-appointed counsel or public defenders. They rely on donations to afford commissary and help their families make ends meet. 

The few private attorneys representing J6 defendants are basically working for free.

Metcalf, who is based in New York, described the risks and financial burdens he’s incurred while representing Pezzola in the seditious conspiracy trial that spanned over six months in Washington, DC.:

I can’t tell you how much money I’ve lost. There are so many different expenses that come into play. You have to think about renting a small apartment for a short period of time, it can cost about $5,000 a month. You have to think about every single meal. You have to get out because you don’t have the time to actually cook. Every day I would leave court and by the time I get back I would have to take my shoes off and sit there for probably a couple of minutes and have to get back to writing and researching.

You have to think about going to and from the court based on where you’re staying. Then you have to think about whether your business is still running and payroll is still going out. My wife is at home with the kids so I had to beg the nanny to stay later. I was trying to get all my employees and nanny to stay extra hours. Every single dollar I had in my savings before I started in this trial is gone.

When you run a business, the bills don’t just stop because I’m on trial. I get a case adjourned here or there, but my payroll is due every week. My mortgage is due every month.

This financially destroyed me. This financially almost crippled me is how bad and how much had to go into this. I tried to get help everywhere I possibly could. There were a ton of people who promised me x, y and z. I won’t get into who promised what. But ultimately, Condemned USA were the only people that were there for me on anything at all.

This got so drastic that it was the minor things, like a cup of coffee and a ride two and from the court that made a difference. Think about that. It’s absurd how costly these trials get.

Dominic actually [told TGP,] if you want to donate to somebody or help somebody you have to get in contact with their attorney personally because if you go through a third party there is no way to assure how that’s going to go. The attorney that is there risking everything on a daily basis, every single day, is getting peanuts. It’s absurd what’s going on.

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Alicia is an investigative journalist and multimedia reporter. Alicia's work is featured on numerous outlets including the Gateway Pundit, Project Veritas, Red Voice Media, World Net Daily, Townhall and Media Research Center, where she uncovers fraud and abuse in government, media, Big Tech, Big Pharma and public corruption. Alicia has a Bachelor of Science in Political Science from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She served in the Correspondence Department of the George W. Bush administration and as a War Room analyst for the Rudy Giuliani Presidential Committee.

You can email Alicia Powe here, and read more of Alicia Powe's articles here.


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