A federal judge may transfer four leaders of the far-right Proud Boys facing charges in the Jan. 6, 2021, storming of the U.S. Capitol, including a Kernersville man, to jail in Washington, D.C., in the coming weeks in anticipation of a trial beginning in May.
Lawyers for three of the four forcefully objected to the suggestion by Judge Timothy J. Kelly of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia during a videoconference hearing Tuesday.
The two attorneys for Charles “Charley” Donohoe of Kernersville, president of a regional chapter of the Proud Boys, took part in the hearing but did not join in on the objections.
All four defendants, who are accused of playing key roles in planning or coordinating the group’s actions at the Capitol, are being held in jails in their home states while awaiting trial.
Kelly said it would make more sense, and would conform with standard practice in federal criminal cases, for all of them to be moved to the District of Columbia Central Detention Facility, where he said they would be able to meet in person with their Washington-based attorneys.
One of Donohoe’s attorneys, Ira Knight, works for the Federal Public Defender’s office in Washington. The other, Lisa Costner, is based in Winston-Salem.
The attorneys for the other three Proud Boys all argued against moving them, saying the three currently had better access to phones for attorney-client discussion and better access to computers for reviewing potential evidence online than they would in the D.C. jail.
Jon Hull, the attorney for Joseph Biggs of Florida, was particularly harsh in his criticism of the D.C. jail, where several dozen Capitol riot defendants are being held. Hull called the jail “a phenomenally dysfunctional place” where “rules are never the same two days in a row” and where it takes lawyers twice as long to get in and out as they are allowed to meet with clients.
The jail also currently has inmates on a strict lockdown because of a COVID-19 outbreak.
Although Kelly has previously rejected requests to release all four defendants to await trial at home, Hull continues to press for Biggs to be released to his home in Ormond Beach, Florida, disputing that Biggs would pose a risk of more political violence.
“Put him home,” Hull said. “He’s less likely to start another revolution from home than from either of these jails.”
Kelly said he would consider whether the defendants could be temporarily released from custody to help the attorneys prepare for the trial, and he said he would make a decision “in a few days.”