Alleged Proud Boy leader wins pretrial release

“There’s no allegation that the defendant brought about damage to any particular person. … He by no means personally brought about harm to any specific property,” the choose mentioned. “He was a leader of a march right down to the Capitol. As soon as they obtained there, it isn’t clear what management function this defendant took in any respect to individuals contained in the Capitol. … The dying of proof about his course is critical right here.”

Howell referred to as the difficulty of whether or not Nordean ought to be detained a “shut case” and he or she mentioned she was disturbed by his rhetoric, particularly his lack of regret following the Jan. 6 violence.

“These are ominous statements,” mentioned the choose. “He indisputably participated on this assault on the Capitol by which some individuals misplaced their lives, together with a police officer.”


Howell ordered that Nordean be launched to house detention with GPS monitoring within the Seattle space, the place he lives. He’ll be permitted to return to Washington, D.C., just for court docket hearings and, with permission, to satisfy his legal professionals.

Howell mentioned there was little question, based mostly on movies, that Nordean gathered with different members of the Proud Boys outdoors the Capitol, cheered them on with a bullhorn as they marched, and that he entered the Capitol illegally. “He wasn’t simply caught up in a mob. He pre-planned,” she mentioned.

Nonetheless, prosecutors have argued that Nordean’s actions, like talking to a different Proud Boy shortly earlier than he broke a Capitol window, demonstrated that he was directing members of the group to commit crimes.

“This was an supposed act,” Assistant U.S. Legal professional Jason McCullough mentioned, including that Nordean’s repeated invocation of rhetoric about “1776” was not merely chatter.

“This was not simply an affection for three-corner hats and saltwater taffy. It was an curiosity in bringing about violent motion,” the prosecutor declared.

Nonetheless, Howell once more questioned the energy of the federal government’s case. “Proof the defendant directed individuals to interrupt home windows to get contained in the Capitol is weak, to say the least,” she mentioned.

The choose mentioned the federal government may finally have the ability to show Nordean ordered violence, maybe with testimony from others charged within the riot who select to cooperate, however in the intervening time the federal government had little past the speculation and his historical past of inflammatory discuss and social media posts, which she referred to as “offensive within the excessive.”

The choice was a blow to prosecutors in one of many highest-profile instances to emerge from the Jan. 6 rebel. Nordean, per the federal government, was a senior member of the Proud Boys’ hierarchy — a member of its “council of elders,” per McCullough — and somebody prosecutors mentioned was a big driver of the occasions that led to the violent takeover of the Capitol.

“Ethan Nordean would, by his presence on Jan. 6, command a sure diploma of authority,” McCullough mentioned.

The prosecutor repeatedly pointed to Nordean’s associations with others arrested throughout the riot, like Dominic Pezzola — one of many first to breach the constructing by shattering a window with a police riot protect — and William Chrestman, who’s charged with threatening to assault law enforcement officials.

However when pressed by Howell, prosecutors offered no proof that Nordean particularly directed these violent actions. Additionally they declined to rebut Nordean’s declare that his mobile phone was lifeless for a lot of Jan. 6 and downplayed the importance of the declare that Nordean noticed his Proud Boys function elevated after the arrest of the group’s leader, Enrique Tarrio.

Nordean, McCullough emphasised, was “nominated” to obtain ”warfare powers” in Tarrio’s absence, however was not essentially granted them.


Nordean’s protection additionally challenged a collection of factual claims within the authorities’s submitting opposing release, together with recommendations he was making ready to flee and that he used refined radio gear to speak with different Proud Boys throughout the assault.

The prosecution steered that throughout the riot Nordean used a radio he purchased from Amazon, however the protection submitted information exhibiting that radio wasn’t delivered to him till the day after the storming of the Capitol.

Prosecutors additionally had problem proving that Nordean offered a flight danger based mostly on the invention of a passport belonging to his spouse’s ex-boyfriend. Although the federal government says the passport was found on a bed room dresser, Nordean’s lawyer rebutted that declare, noting his spouse repeatedly stored it in a jewellery field on the couple’s nightstand and that the 2 males don’t look something alike.

“The federal government has made repeated factual claims about Ethan’s actions after which backs away from them with none assist,” Nordean’s lawyer Nicholas Smith mentioned. “It’s simply not there.”

Smith mentioned it was troubling that the federal government would search legal costs based mostly largely on Nordean’s function main a march and steered the method amounted to guilt by affiliation.

“I problem the federal government to provide you with a single precedent with such a sweeping idea of aiding and abetting legal responsibility,” the protection lawyer mentioned. “Marching with a gaggle of individuals would implicate each single particular person within the crowd for a felony offense, however the authorities isn’t charging everybody within the crowd. … Obscure claims about taking again the federal government and that kind of factor isn’t an aiding-and-abetting offense.”

McCullough disclosed on the outset of Wednesday’s listening to {that a} grand jury indicted Nordean earlier within the day on costs just like these in a legal grievance used to arrest him final month. They embrace obstruction of a Congressional continuing, aiding and abetting depredation of presidency property, and lesser costs.

Now that Nordean has been indicted, his case shall be assigned to a choose at random for additional proceedings. Howell mentioned the federal government is free to make its case to that choose that Nordean is so harmful that he ought to be stored in jail as he awaits trial.

“My phrase is probably not the final phrase on this,” she mentioned.

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