On Tuesday, July 9, the four Embassy Protectors appeared in US district court in Washington, DC before Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell at 9:30 am. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia is located at 333 Constitution Avenue N.W. Washington D.C. 20001.
The hearing updated the prosecution in United States v. Zeese et. al. of Kevin Zeese, Margaret Flowers, David Paul and Adrienne Pine. Issues discussed were what documents, videos and other materials the government must provide the defense, and whether any plea agreement has been offered. An agreement that requires the Embassy Protectors to plead guilty to “Interference with certain protective functions,” a federal offense (18 U.S. Code §”118). This would open the Protectors up to one year of incarceration and up to $100,000 each in fines. This agreement seems unlikely to be accepted.
The government told the court on July 9 that they have provided the Protectors with the first round of discovery and two or three more rounds are expected by the end of August.
In the first round, there were more than 800 police body camera videos covering mostly the final three days before the arrest, as well as the arrest. There were also photographs and other evidence. The prosecutor said they were going through hundreds of emails that will be part of future discovery.
The defense lawyer for Adrienne Pine told the court that going through 800 discovery requests was a tremendous burden. He asked the court to designate the case as a “complex case” which would mean more resources for the appointed lawyers (two of the four lawyers were appointed by the court and two are retained). The court refused to designate the case as a complex one as that might have other repercussions but said if more resources were needed the appointed attorneys could apply for them.
Judge Howell asked the prosecutor when they would tell the defense which video tapes they would use in the trial, the prosecutor said they would let the defense know three weeks before the trial date. Judge Howell said that was “not the way things were done in this court” and gave the prosecutor until the end of August to provide the defense information on which tapes they were likely to use in the trial.
There was no discussion of a plea agreement in court. The prosecutor has offered a plea agreement, i.e. plead guilty to the charges and the judge can sentence the defendants to up to the full potential sentence, one year in prison, up to $100,000 fines each and other costs. This plea offer was rejected by the defendants.
The judge has issues a protective order for the video tapes which does not allow the tapes to be shared outside of the lawyers, their firms and the four Protectors. The initial order proposed by the prosecutor would have required the Protectors to review every video tape while their lawyer was with them but the judge modified that order at the request of the defense so they can now be viewed without the lawyers present.
The defense is in the process of reviewing all the video tapes to look for useful information. The is a laborious process as merely downloading the tapes takes hours. It is evident this prosecution will be a long and slow process and that the government is not showing any flexibility regarding potential sentences.
The next court date will be Friday, October 4 for another Status Hearing.