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Supreme Court to Hear Appeal on Jan. 6 Attack, Enron-Era Charge
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WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court announced on Wednesday its decision to review an appeal from a participant in the January 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol. The individual in question, Joseph Fischer, contends that prosecutors overstepped legal boundaries by charging him with a crime rooted in the Enron era, originally designed to address financial misconduct.

Overview of the Case

The case has drawn considerable attention, especially since more than 200 individuals face charges related to the same law – a prohibition on obstructing “official proceedings.” This includes former President Donald Trump, and successful convictions could potentially add 20 years to prison sentences.

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High Stakes for Prosecutors

By agreeing to hear this case, the Supreme Court is now managing a second prominent matter linked to the January 6 attack and Trump. Simultaneously, the justices are considering an unusual request from special counsel Jack Smith to promptly decide whether Trump can claim immunity from federal criminal charges tied to the 2020 election.

The Supreme Court has set a deadline for Trump to respond to this appeal by next week.

Fischer’s Argument

Joseph Fischer’s appeal revolves around challenging one count of his indictment, asserting that the law enacted by Congress in 2002 was initially meant to penalize individuals for tampering with evidence, not those participating in a riot. In legal documents, Fischer characterizes the provision as an “anti-shredding” law.

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Justice Department’s Perspective

Contrary to Fischer’s stance, the Justice Department argues that the interruption of the counting of electoral votes during the Capitol breach qualifies as an “official proceeding.” Prosecutors assert that the law encompasses actions such as lying to a grand jury or “burning a building to conceal the bodies” of murder victims, explicitly including storming the Capitol to derail a congressional proceeding.



Legal Battle Background

A U.S. District Court judge had initially sided with the defendants, ruling that the law required them to have taken some action involving evidence to be charged. However, a divided appeals court in Washington, D.C., reversed this decision, aligning with prosecutors. The 2-1 majority included one judge appointed by President Joe Biden and one by Trump.

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