The U.S. Capitol riot launched one of the largest investigations in the history of the Department of Justice, with hundreds of defendants now facing charges. But the lawyer who has placed himself at the center of nearly 20 legal defenses himself has many problems – from a bizarre legal strategy and looming debts to a difficult case defending a handful of chimpanzees.
Once a high-profile civilian lawyer, lawyer John Pierce has reinvented himself, in the face of mountains of debt, as a go-to lawyer for the Conservatives. famous causes. After being fired from representing defendant Kenosha, Wisconsin murder suspect Kyle Rittenhouse over a financial dispute, Pierce has become perhaps the most public legal face of the January 6 defense, representing more than a dozen of clients as he tries out unorthodox legal strategies and games. with his detractors on Twitter.
But even as his star rises to the right, Pierce was undermined by a bizarre tweet that appeared to threaten federal officials, with an employee facing felony charges for allegedly defrauding a grandmother and his own financial woes.
Pierce declined to comment.
Pierce now represents at least 17 of the January 6 defendants, more than any other lawyer. His clients include Proud Boy William Pepe and L. Brent Bozell IV, son of conservative media commentator L. Brent Bozell III. Pierce also represents Ryan Samsel, an accused rioter identified by prosecutors as the man filmed consulting a senior Proud Boy officer before attacking police officers in the opening minutes of the riot.
Here’s what a ton of Capitol rioters had in common
“We’re going to take each of these cases to court, we’re going to seek full acquittals, and in that process, we’re going to find out what really happened on January 6,” Pierce said at a rally in June at the support of those accused of the riots.
At a hearing, Pierce said he would pursue a “defense of public authority” – an unusual legal tactic sometimes used by informants who saw him claim that his clients believed the government, in the form of Donald Trump , had legally sanctioned their law. -rupture.
Marcy Wheeler, a national security reporter who reported on Pierce’s court records, suspects Pierce is gathering so many Jan. 6 clients to tell a story in court about “romantic patriots trying to save the country.” But Pierce’s ambitious legal strategy could be compromised by his lack of substantial experience as a criminal defense attorney, a problem that also arose during his short tenure as a criminal defense attorney. as representative of Rittenhouse.
“He is not a defense lawyer, and therefore he is not particularly a good defense lawyer and it would take a very good defense lawyer to do a good defense of public authority,” said Wheeler. “That’s why no one else is trying it.”
At times, Pierce’s rhetoric on Twitter can seem as overheated as some of the rioters on January 6. On July 16, as debates over door-to-door vaccination campaigns raged on the Right, Pierce tweeted that a federal employee knocking on your door had called for “various calibers” – an apparent reference to the fact of shoot them.
“Every case of an unconstitutional federal hit to your door, or that of a UN peacekeeper, should be greeted with one thing,” Pierce tweeted. “Of various calibers.”
Prior to his turn as one of the top attorneys for troubled Trump supporters, Pierce ran a burgeoning law firm. But his business dissolved amid his personal issues, including a tax debt of over $ 800,000 to the IRS and what he described as drug addiction issues.
Pierce declined to comment on the significance of his tweet. the Daily mail reported that Pierce had previously sent threatening messages to his ex-wife and allegedly threatened to kill her.
To support his conservative legal causes, Pierce created his potential rival to the American Civil Liberties Union in June, dubbing it the National Constitutional Law Union. But his new group has already been hit by the scandal.
On Thursday, Law360 reported that NCLU chief financial officer Ryan Joseph-Gene Marshall was facing a slew of felony charges for attempting to defraud an elderly woman while working as a clerk.
Marshall allegedly convinced a judge to sign a fake guardianship order, which in turn helped one of Marshall’s court colleagues steal $ 86,000 from the woman, court documents show. Pierce, who plans to make Marshall a partner in his start-up company, represents Marshall in the case.
Despite being responsible for representing nearly 20 defendants of the Capitol Riots, Pierce also signed on for another case: a scuffle over whether a Missouri woman should turn over her chimps to a group of wildlife sanctuaries after agreeing to return them to the under an agreement with People for the Ethical Treatment of animals.
The chimpanzee affair has become an unlikely cause in some corners of the right thanks to The Gateway Pundit, a popular right-wing blog that often promotes hoaxes. While private ownership of chimpanzees is usually not a major issue for Trump supporters, one of the blog’s editors, who is considering owning a monkey herself, has started to cover the affair closely.
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Earlier this month, Pierce signed the deal. But his efforts to keep the chimps at home have so far been unsuccessful, with a federal appeals court dismissing his petition for an emergency stay. Pierce had equally bad luck in the Supreme Court, with Judge Brett Kavanaugh dismissing his request for a stay on Wednesday.
As Pierce continued to amass defendants on January 6, it seems at least one of them may be looking for a different portrayal. Pierce’s client and riot advocate Ryan Samsel, who rose to prominence among many accused on January 6 after claiming to be attacked by guards in prison, contacted the judge in his case on Wednesday and said ‘he would take a new lawyer.
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