Judge Rebukes DOJ Arguments Against Release of Jan. 6 Defendant

Kevin Seefried received a three-year prison sentence for obstructing an official proceeding.
Judge Rebukes DOJ Arguments Against Release of Jan. 6 Defendant
Kevin Seefried holds a Confederate flag outside the Senate Chamber during a protest after breaching the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, on Jan. 6, 2021. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)
Chase Smith

A Jan. 6 defendant seeking to be released from prison was granted in part by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia this week.

The order, signed by U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden on March 26, will grant (pdf) the release of Kevin Seefried, a defendant convicted for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol breach, pending the appeal of his conviction.

This decision comes despite stark warnings from the Justice Department regarding the implications of such a move.

Mr. Seefried received a three-year prison sentence for obstructing an official proceeding among other charges, facing a potential maximum sentence of 23 years.

After his conviction, he appealed and requested release pending appeal, a request that gained new relevance when the Supreme Court decided to review a related case, Fischer v. United States, which could impact many Jan. 6 defendants.

The high Court’s decision on this case may influence the outcome of Mr. Seefried’s conviction, suggesting it could be vacated depending on the justices’ ruling.

Judge Notes Deja Vu

The decision to release Mr. Seefried is grounded in the ongoing legal debate over the application of 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c), the obstruction of an official proceeding statute, beyond the context of “evidence impairment.”

“Seefried’s current motion is déjà vu all over again,” Judge McFadden wrote.

This legal question is currently under review by the Supreme Court in a related case, Fischer v. United States, which directly challenges the scope of § 1512(c) and its application to the Jan. 6 defendants.

Judge McFadden, in his memorandum order, outlined that the release is premised on two conditions mandated by 18 U.S.C. § 3143(b): a defendant is not likely to flee or pose a danger to the community if released, and that the appeal raises a substantial question likely to result in a significantly lesser sentence or reversal.

Judge McFadden found that Mr. Seefried met both conditions, noting a lack of evidence to suggest Mr. Seefried would flee or pose a danger, and that the Supreme Court’s review of Fischer represents a substantial question of law that could materially affect Mr. Seefried’s conviction.

Judge McFadden noted the argument of the Justice Department that, in their belief, he now knew the “day-to-day reality of confinement in prison” and was therefore “more likely” to flee than return to prison.

Judge McFadden also noted U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves’s argument of 2024 being an election year involving “what will likely be another fiercely contested presidential election” and if released, the Court “would be releasing defendant into the same political maelstrom that led him to commit his crimes in the first place.”

Judge McFadden said those arguments were “unavailing.”

“The riot on January 6th was the culmination of a unique—indeed, never-before-seen—confluence of events,” Judge McFadden wrote. “The Government provides the Court no evidence suggesting that any of the events that led to that riot are reasonably likely to recur. Nor does it point to any evidence that Seefried would participate in another riot if they did.”

Furthermore, the decision reflects on the procedural aspects and standards for release pending appeal, challenging the Justice Department’s arguments against Mr. Seefried’s release.

Judge McFadden wrote he should be released on the one-year anniversary that he first surrendered himself to serve time, which is “on or before” May 31.

Chase is an award-winning journalist. He covers national news for The Epoch Times and is based out of Tennessee. For news tips, send Chase an email at [email protected] or connect with him on X.