Prosecutors can appeal January 6 ‘separation’ ruling

Jenny Spencer

Jenny Spencer, Image via FBI

A potential legal issue lurking in the wake of the January 6 cases may come to the fore as federal prosecutors have signaled their intention to appeal the judge’s conviction.

Federal prosecutors filed a Notice of Appeal in the case against Virginia “Jenny” Spencer on Wednesday, challenge the US District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly’s command to modify her original sentence.

In September, Spencer pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of marching, protesting, or having a picnic on the Capitol. She admitted to joining the crowd of Donald Trump advocates that the police are too aggressive to trespass the Capitol building when Congress tries to certify Joe Biden’s win the 2020 presidential race; She was inside the building for more than 20 minutes.

She and her husband, Christopher Spencertraveled from North Carolina with their 14-year-old son, who accompanied the couple when they entered the Capitol building illegally — a fact Kollar-Kotelly highlighted during Spencer’s sentencing in January.

“I… find it very difficult to understand why you would bring a 14-year-old teenage boy to the Capitol,” said Kollar-Kotelly, a Bill Clinton appointee, at Spencer’s hearing. “It must have been a traumatic experience [for him] witness this kind of violence[.]”

Kollar-Kotelly also told Spencer that her actions reflected “complete lack of judgment”. Then she convict Spencer 90 days in prison and three years of probation.

Spencer’s attorney, Allen Orenbergopposed that sentence just days later, arguing that the prison sentence and probation, a combination that has been referred to as a “separation sentence” in the context of the January 6 case, are not legally binding. supportive law.

Orenberg said that federal laws governing sentencing and probation for federal crimes do not allow for segregation of sentences in the case of petty crimes, such as marching or picnicking offenses. The government pushed back, arguing that the federal probation statue produced an engraving that could allow for split sentences for petty offenses, and pointed to a 2009 appeals decision that also reached the conclusion. similar.

Kollar-Kotelly ultimately sided with Spencer, concluding that she was not authorized under current law to deliver split sentences.

“Accordingly, a thorough reading of the sections of law in question – 3551(b) and 3561– lead to the conclusion that the district court must choose between probation and imprisonment when imposing a sentence for a misdemeanor,” said Kollar. Kotelly wrote in the verdict.

Kollar-Kotelly later modified Spencer’s sentence, upholding the 90-day prison sentence but waiving the suspended sentence.

However, prosecutors have continued to recommend separate sentences in the January 6 cases where the defendant pleaded guilty to misdemeanors of marching and delivering.

To date, no other judge has ruled on the matter, but some have indicated that the matter will eventually have to be resolved, one way or another.

Senior Judge of the United States Thomas HoganOne Ronald Reagan appointee, speak in court ruled in January that he did not have the legal authority to impose terms of detention and probation for a petty crime.

Senior Judge of the United States Royce Lambertalso a Reagan appointee, declined to rule on the matter during a hearing in January, but shown that he may give a written opinion.

United States District Judge Amy Berman JacksonOne Barack Obama appointee, briefly state the problem in a sentencing hearing on Friday, but ultimately decided that since she had only been given a prison sentence, she would “leave this to another day.”

While Wednesday’s submission by the government is simply a notice of appeal, not the appeal itself, it’s possible the move could bring this existing legal issue closer. one step towards resolution.

Read Kollar-Kotelly’s ruling amending Spencer’s sentence below.

[Images via FBI court filings.]

Is there a trick we should know? Prosecutors can appeal January 6 ‘separation’ ruling

James Brien

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