A federal judge on Wednesday convicted senior Washington, DC prison officials of contempt of court, ruling they improperly delayed medical treatment of an accused detained in connection with the Jan.6 attack on Capitol Hill .
Calling the delay in processing the accused, Christopher Worrell, “incompetent” and “inexcusable,” Judge Royce C. Lamberth of the Washington Federal District Court said he would also refer the case to the ministry. Justice for a possible investigation into whether Mr. Worrell’s civil rights – and the rights of other jailed defendants – had been violated.
“Does anyone care?” Judge Lamberth asked prison officials and their attorneys at one point, describing their mess of treating Mr. Worrell as “beyond foolish.”
Mr Worrell, a member of a Florida branch of the Proud Boys, was denied bail and jailed shortly after his arrest in March for assaulting a police officer and obstructing congressional certification of the presidential vote on January 6. He has cancer and is receiving chemotherapy, and after being taken into custody he broke his wrist.
He was due to have wrist surgery in June, Judge Lamberth said at a hearing on Wednesday, but in September the operation had not taken place and the judge ordered prison authorities to provide him with the medical record. from Mr. Worrell so that he could consider issuing a formal order requiring the procedure. Prison officials delayed obtaining Judge Lamberth’s files, causing him to explode in anger from the bench.
The verdict of civil contempt does not carry any sanction such as jail time or a fine. The Justice Department and the DC Department of Corrections declined to comment on the finding.
Lawyers for several more of the roughly 40 Jan. 6 defendants who are in DC jail in lieu of bail have filed complaints of mistreatment. Some have argued that their clients have been denied adequate food and access to showers. Others complained about restrictions on religious services. Prison officials have denied the charges and said those accused of the Capitol riots were not being targeted for punishment or ill-treatment.
In his contempt finding, Judge Lamberth said he had no idea whether the delays in Mr. Worrell’s medical care were related to January 6, but he was furious nonetheless.