For the past 8+ months, the most criminally underreported story in our country has been the plight of so-called “Jan 6. insurrectionists.” These people, many of them guilty of little more than misdemeanors–if that–have seen their civil rights trampled while enduring cruel and unusual punishment from prisons who appear to be more interested in punishment than correction.
Of course, some detainees from the Jan 6 incident are charged with serious crimes, assaults on police for example. But yes, even serious offenders have rights in our country. We are a first world republic, after all, or at least we used to be. Their rights must be protected just as much as the harmless grandmothers who comprised a significant portion of the population that day.
Finally, someone in the judiciary is stepping up to protect those rights…sort of.
U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth held top officials at the Washington, D.C., Department of Corrections in civil contempt today, after ruling they violated the civil rights of a U.S. Capitol riot defendant by impeding his access to medical care.
“It is more than just inept and bureaucratic shuffling of papers,” the judge said.
“I find that the civil rights of the defendant have been abridged. I don’t know if it’s because he is a Jan. 6 defendant or not, but I find that this matter should be referred to the attorney general of the United States … for a civil rights investigation.”
Lamberth’s verbal and written order came during a court hearing after the judge previously threatened to hold DC Department of Corrections Director Quincy Booth and Warden Wanda Patten in contempt for failing to turn over notes from a doctor for defendant Christopher Worrell.
Today marks the first time a judge has issued such an order — which carries no penalty of its own — against the jail over the treatment of Jan. 6 defendants, after defense lawyers in other cases have previously complained about poor conditions or treatment at the D.C. jail.
Worrell, a self-proclaimed member of the Proud Boys group from Florida, is facing numerous criminal charges for his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, including assaulting police and civil disorder.
At least 650 people have been arrested across the United States over the riot, when a mix of Trump supporters upset over the election and Qanon supporters taking it upon themselves to create “the storm” entered the capital building to try to stop Joe Biden’s installation as president.
Worrell has non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and broke his hand while in custody in May. In June, an orthopedic surgeon at a nearby hospital recommended he have surgery to repair it. Since then, however, Worrell has been unable to get the surgery because the Department of Corrections has not provided the doctor’s notes to the U.S. Marshals Service. For background: Marshals Service oversees the detention and transportation of all federal inmates, including in cases where they are being housed in local jail facilities such as the D.C. jail.
But without access to the surgeon’s notes, the Marshals Service was unable to approve Worrell’s surgery, which is why Judge Lamberth ordered the notes to be turned over promptly.
Chris Geldart, Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice, is taking the hapless incompetence defense, declaring he “has made every effort to comply with the orders of District Court.”
“The Department works to ensure the Constitutional rights of all residents and will fully cooperate with any lawful inquiries or investigation by the United States Department of Justice,” he added.
A Justice Department spokesperson said the referral had been received but declined to comment further, naturally.
This is not the first problem experienced by Mr. Worrell in our esteemed justice system. He has been in custody since his March arrest. As of Oct. 4, he is one of 37 Jan. 6 defendants detained in the D.C. jail.
Before Worrell broke his hand, his then-attorney argued in court that he had not had adequate access to medical treatment for his cancer. His new attorney, Alex Stavrou, says Worrell was found unconscious with the broken hand on May 16, after what appeared to be a fall possibly tied to his other medical conditions.
“We support the judge’s position that the Office of the Attorney General investigate into potential civil rights violations,” he told Reuters in a statement, adding that Worrell and other Jan. 6 defendants hope Attorney General Merrick Garland will “conduct this inquiry immediately and without prejudice.”
And therein lies the problem.
While the initiation of civil rights abuses is always a good development, an investigation is only as good as the people tasked with its execution. Unfortunately, AG Merrick Garland has proved himself more than willing to act as a partisan tool for the Biden administration; the same administration who has shamelessly sought to make an example of every person present at the Capitol that day.
Garland has launched civil rights investigations into police departments across the country with no predicate other than pressure from far left anti-police groups to do so. If Garland can so easily and with a straight face pretend that nonsense investigations are completely legitimate, how are we to believe that he will treat a completely legitimate civil rights investigation with the seriousness and objectivity it deserves? There is no reason, after all, to expect straightforward work from a backwards operator.
What’s worse, Garland’s latest move to get the FBI involved against concerned parents at schoolboard meetings reveals a man utterly void of shame, perfectly willing to punish innocent citizens should their political views lean right. Why wouldn’t this pattern continue with the maltreatment of Mr. Worrell?
It brings me no joy to say that I expect nothing of value to come from the Department of Justice regarding the civil rights abuses regarding Worrell or any other Jan. 6 inmate, some of whom are in solitary confinement 23 hours a day despite doing little more than trespassing on government property.
There is no interest in justice, only retribution; a message to send to the rest of the unwashed masses. It won’t change until we take power, which we absolutely can do. But it will take involvement from the local level all the way up to Capitol Hill. There are signs that it’s coming together and yielding early effects. And thank God, because frankly, the recommendation from Judge Lamberth probably isn’t worth the paper on which it’s written.
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