Judge threatens to sue lawyers for disciplinary action for slowing case of jailed sixth defendant
A federal judge in Washington, DC, is threatening to flag two attorneys for possible disciplinary action for delaying the trial of a man who was jailed for assaulting police officers during the January 6, 2021, assault on the US Capitol.
U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden, appointed by former President Donald Trump, questioned in court papers filed Thursday whether attorney Joseph McBride was sincere when he said last summer he should push the lawsuit of Christopher Quaglin in October; McBride said he has not yet recovered from a case of COVID-19 he contracted in May 2022, and that he has chronic Lyme disease, and that treatment and recovery will take two to three months.
McBride said in her filing that her doctors advised her to “take aggressive action to eradicate and neutralize this condition.”
But the judge noted that at the same time, McBride – who is representing several of the Jan. 6 defendants – continued to do media interviews and spoke to a Republican county committee in October about his fight for “January 6 political prisoners.” In November, McBride tweeted a photo of himself on the beach at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort And another photo inside Trump’s 2024 campaign announcement partywrote McFadden.
“While lawyers – like all citizens – have the right to speak freely, these public representations of McBride call into question the authenticity of his need for continued medical care due to his inability to represent Quaglin last October,” wrote McFadden.
McFadden ordered McBride – who has since removed himself from Quaglin’s case – and another Quaglin lawyer, Jonathan Gross, to file a response by April 10 explaining why the judge should not refer them to the grievance committee of the court, which investigates complaints against lawyers. The judge has scheduled a hearing for April 18.
In response to a reporter’s tweet about the judge’s order, McBride tweeted: “EVERYONE SHOULD SHOW UP FOR THIS TO HEAR THE TRUTH. LET’S GOOOOO!”
McBride withdrew from the Quaglin case this month – just weeks before the man’s new trial date in April – because McBride said he had to focus on another January 6 case before be judged at the end of March. McBride told the judge that Gross would take on Quaglin’s case, saying the change would not prejudice the defendant and that the other attorney “knows Quaglin’s case well.”
Shortly after taking over the case, however, Gross told McFadden that he planned to ask for the trial to be postponed. McFadden wrote that Gross told the judge “he does not practice criminal law and is not competent” to be Quaglin’s lead trial attorney in just weeks.
“Quaglin’s attorneys have now repeatedly delayed this trial to the detriment of their client, who remains in custody, and to the detriment of his co-defendants and the government who seek a speedy resolution to this case,” McFadden wrote. “Indeed, the Court doubts that McBride’s initial request to maintain was made in good faith.”
McBride said in a text message on Friday that he denies “innuendo” in McFadden’s order regarding his representations in court regarding his medical condition and his restraining claims. McBride said he will respond in court and looks forward “to displaying the truth and reaching a favorable resolution.”
McBride also said his client thought the judge had so much personal animosity toward McBride that Quaglin didn’t think he could get a fair trial.
“As such, Mr. Quaglin asked me to step aside and help Mr. Gross take over the case – which is exactly what I did,” McBride wrote.
Gross did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Quaglin is being held at the DC jail, where Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and other members of the Oversight and Accountability Committee visited on friday while some conservatives continue to try to portray the January 6 defendants as “political prisoners”.
Of the 6 Jan. 20 defendants detained in DC earlier this month, 17 were charged with assaulting officers on Capitol Hill, according to the blog Just Security, which obtained a recent list from the DC Department of Corrections. Six of the defendants pleaded guilty to assaulting, resisting or obstructing officers and two others were convicted at trial.
A spokesperson for the DC prison did not immediately respond to a Friday request from The Associated Press for an updated list of the Jan. 6 defendants locked up there.
Quaglin, of North Brunswick, New Jersey, is accused of attacking several police officers trying to protect the Capitol from the angry pro-Trump mob who halted Congressional certification of The victory of President Joe Biden.
Authorities say Quaglin attacked officers with a stolen riot shield and sprayed them with a chemical irritant. He faces charges including assaulting an officer with a dangerous weapon.