Defense attorney John Pierce speaks during an extradition hearing for Kyle Rittenhouse in Lake County Court on Friday, October 30, 2020, in Waukegan, Illinois.
Nam Y. Huh | Swimming pool | AP
Attorney John Pierce – who represents 17 criminal defendants in Capitol riot cases – has disappeared at court hearings on conflicting excuses, including claims he was hospitalized with Covid and on a ventilator, a court record said.
The federal prosecutor warned a judge on file that Pierce employee Ryan Marshall – who appeared in Pierce’s absence last week – “is not a licensed attorney.” Marshall is also facing two separate criminal cases for serious felony in Pennsylvania, prosecutors said.
As a result, “Mr. Marshall cannot ethically or legally represent Mr. Pierce’s clients,” district attorneys for the District of Columbia told the judge in Monday’s filing filed in the case of riot defendant James Burton McGrew.
“The United States is in a position where this defendant and 16 other Capitol riot-related defendants appear to be without legal counsel,” wrote Beryl Howell, chief judge of the Washington Federal Court.
All of Pierce’s defendants will be prosecuted in this court, as will hundreds of others accused of breaking into the Capitol complex on Jan. 6 after then-President Donald Trump urged supporters to oppose the confirmation of the election of Joe Biden to fight for President through a joint session of Congress.
Pierce’s clients include members of the far-right Proud Boys and Oath Keepers groups.
The filing on Monday seems to favor an initial claim by Marshall that Pierce, who is himself a Trump supporter, “Unfortunately … sick with COVID-19, on a ventilator and unresponsive” was in doubt.
“Unfortunately, it appears that Mr. Pierce is being hospitalized and unable to communicate and it is unclear when Mr. Pierce will recover,” the prosecutors wrote.
“The government is alerting the court of Mr. Pierce’s reported illness so that it can take any steps it deems necessary to ensure that the defendant’s rights are adequately protected while Mr. Pierce remains in the hospital,” it said in the file.
Prosecutors also mention other reports contradicting this allegation and providing other explanations for the mysterious absence of Pierce, a namesake partner with the Los Angeles law firm Pierce Bainbridge.
“I have nothing to say,” Marshall told CNBC on Tuesday.
When CNBC called Pierce’s main office phone number on Tuesday, a recording said, “The number you called is down.”
Pierce didn’t answer a phone number given to him on the court file. A message on that phone number stated that voicemail was not set up. Pierce did not immediately respond to an email request.
CNBC left a message on their online contact form with a request for a comment to their company.
Pierce previously represented Kyle Rittenhouse, an 18-year-old Illinois man charged with ruthless homicide and other charges, who fatally shot two people and a third in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last August during a riot that resulted from the nonfatal shooting of Police officer was raised to have injured black man named Jacob Blake.
Rittenhouse fired Pierce in February.
A June article in The New Yorker details the events that led to Pierce’s resignation, including the attorney’s handling of donations destined for Rittenhouse.
“Kyle was John’s carte blanche for the debt,” Rittenhouse’s mother, Wendy Rittenhouse, told The New Yorker.
In their filing on Monday, federal prosecutors wrote that they have been “since Monday, August 23, 2021, when he was in court in DC for a hearing in the case of Capitol insurgent defendant Jeremiah Caplinger.
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“Since then, the US Attorney’s Office has heard conflicting information about the state of health and whereabouts of Mr. Pierce,” the file said.
On August 24, Marshall appeared in court on behalf of another riot defendant on behalf of Pierce, advocating the court that Mr Pierce’s absence was due to a conflict, the file says.
“A few hours later, Mr. Marshall was in a reverse proffer meeting with another defendant, represented by Mr. Pierce, and informed the US Assistant Attorney that he had just learned that Mr. Pierce had one Had an accident and was on the way to the hospital, ”said the file.
“Mr. Marshall then proceeded to the counterprofence session in Mr. Pierce’s absence.”
The next morning, Marshall appeared in Pierce’s place for another riot defendant and explained to the court that Mr. Pierce had been hospitalized with COVID-19, was on a ventilator and was unresponsive, ”the file reads.
“After this information was publicly reported, another person reached out to an NPR correspondent and wrote that Mr. Pierce was actually not sick with COVID, but” was hospitalized on Monday because of symptoms he believed she was could be related to Covid “. -19 ‘; ‘appears to have suffered from dehydration and exhaustion’; and ‘remains in the care of his doctors’ “, it says in the file.
Last Thursday, during a hearing for another defendant, Marshall told a judge that he had no direct contact with Pierce, “but one of Mr. Pierce’s friends told him that Mr. Pierce had COVID-19 and another said: it wasn’t him, “wrote the prosecutors.
The file stated that during the hearing, “Marshall requested and was granted a sealed banking conference to discuss Mr. Pierce’s condition.”
Prosecutors found that Pierce routinely posted “several messages a day on Twitter,” but has not done so since August 20.
“And there are reports that” several phone numbers have been disconnected from Pierce’s law firm Pierce Bainbridge PC, “the file said.
Prosecutors said that Marshall appeared to have taken action on the Capitol Riot defendants “who are not permitted” because he is currently not admitted to the bar, “and therefore will not appear in this court representing clients of Mr. Pierce or offer them legal advice or services. “
The file found that Marshall was charged with criminal charges in a Pennsylvania state court, on multiple counts of intercepting communications and unlawful use of an audio device in court, and another accused of being a man’s widow cheating a clerk during his tenure.
“From a government perspective, given Mr. Pierce’s reported illness and Mr. Marshall’s not a licensed attorney, this case has virtually stalled,” the file said.
Prosecutors wrote that while Marshall was the government’s primary or sole point of contact for many of the defendants represented by Mr. Pierce, the government did not consider it appropriate to continue communicating with him in Mr. Pierce’s absence while he was inevitably unsupervised licensed attorney would act. “
Correction: An earlier version gave Judge Beryl Howell the wrong last name.