Breaking News
More () »

Judge denies Jan. 6 defendant's motion for release, says no rights violated at DC Jail

A federal judge denied Christopher Quaglin's motion for release from custody, saying many of the issues his attorney raised were of Quaglin's making.

WASHINGTON — A federal judge denied a Jan. 6 defendant’s third motion to be released from pretrial custody on Tuesday – saying he found no violations of constitutional rights at the D.C. Jail that would warrant his release.

Last month, Christopher Quaglin – a New Jersey electrician the Justice Department says is a member of the Proud Boys – filed a renewed motion for release while he prepares for his trial scheduled next month. Quaglin was one of nine men in a multi-defendant indictment field in 2021 stemming from an hours-long assault on police who were defending the U.S. Capitol Building’s Lower West Terrace Tunnel on Jan. 6, 2021. Quaglin faces felony charges of assaulting police with a dangerous weapon and inflicting bodily injury on officers for allegedly attacking police with a stolen riot shield and pepper spray.

Six of Quaglin’s co-defendants have already been found guilty of numerous charges in bench trials before U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden, and Quaglin and the remaining two defendants were scheduled to begin their own bench trial on April 10. In the meantime, however, Quaglin’s attorney Jonathon Gross wanted McFadden to release him to home detention. In a motion filed Feb. 8, Gross argued numerous factors warranted Quaglin’s release, including the length of his detention, the numerous times he’s been moved between facilities conditions at the D.C. Jail and his lack of access at the facility to evidence in his case.

On Tuesday, the judge denied Quaglin’s motion. While acknowledging there have been issues reported at the jail’s Central Detention Facility in the past, McFadden noted the U.S. Marshal’s service responded swiftly in 2021 to remove approximately 400 defendants out of the facility after a Marshals’ inspection found standing sewage and shut-off water. At the time, the Marshal’s Service found the conditions acceptable at a separate wing of the facility where Jan. 6 defendants have been held called the Central Treatment Facility.

As Gross noted during Tuesday's hearing, three Republicans on the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability sent a letter to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser last week announcing their plan to investigate the D.C. Jail’s handling of Jan. 6 detainees. The letter included the claim that Jan. 6 detainees have received “disparate treatment,” including lack of access to legal resources.

McFadden, who served as deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s criminal division before being appointed to the federal bench by former President Donald Trump in 2017, noted that it appeared to him – far from being denied access to resources or evidence at the D.C. Jail – Jan. 6 defendants had received extraordinary accommodations to view materials in their cases. At the facility, Jan. 6 defendants have access to tablets to view the voluminous evidence in the investigation, including, if they are signed up for it, the government’s electronic evidence database.

“I’ve seen cases for over a decade now and I’ve never seen a defendant have a tablet to access discovery materials,” McFadden said, noting the D.C. Jail’s program had been developed specifically in response to Jan. 6 defendants’ concerns.

Quaglin's motion did not contain, and McFadden did not weigh in on, all of the complaints Jan. 6 defendants have levied against the D.C. Jail. In hearings before other judges, defendants have claimed they have been denied access to religious services and barbers. The House Republicans' letter includes a reference to a detainee who suffered a "fractured bone that was left untreated" — a possible reference to Proud Boy Christopher Worrell, who was released from detention by another judge after jail officials failed to turn over notes from an orthopedic specialist. D.C. Corrections officials have contested Worrell's account of his treatment at the jail, though two of them were held in contempt by U.S. District Judge Lamberth in connection with Worrell's case.

As to Quaglin’s other claims, McFadden laid his history of facility transfers at his own feet – noting he’d received “numerous incident reports” detailing aggressive and disruptive behavior by Quaglin. A Marshal’s deputy said in court Tuesday that Quaglin’s recent transfer to the D.C. Jail came after the Rappahannock Regional Jail reported he had been harassing medical staff. Addressing the length of Quaglin’s pre-trial detention, he pointed out that was “entirely of his own making.”

Quaglin had been scheduled to begin trial on Oct. 3, but his then-attorney, Joseph McBride, requested a continuance in August due to a medical issue. McFadden asked Quaglin then if he wanted a new attorney and warned him it could be an additional six months before he saw trial if the continuance was granted. On Tuesday, McFadden, who used that same August hearing to scold McBride about missing multiple court appearances and deadlines in Quaglin’s case, said Quaglin had ignored the “concerns I raised with him about Mr. McBride’s representations” and chose to delay his trial anyway. At the time, Quaglin told McFadden he believed McBride was “the man for the job.”

McBride filed a motion to withdraw from Quaglin’s case last week so he could focus on preparations for another Jan. 6 client, Ryan Nichols, to go to trial later this month. McFadden granted that motion the same day. Gross, a civil attorney who entered his appearance in the case in September, then took over Quaglin’s case.

Despite denying Quaglin's request, McFadden said he was committed to ensuring Quaglin had appropriate access to his discovery materials at the jail and didn't fault Gross for Quaglin not having a log in to the electronic evidence system.

"This has been a defense problem and I don't blame Mr. Gross for this," McFadden said. "Mr. Gross is now Mr. Quaglin's third attorney."

Gross, who served as a rabbi for years before becoming a lawyer, told McFadden he would be filing another request for a continuance because the current trial date was scheduled for Passover and he is an Orthodox Jew. McFadden expressed his dismay at that, saying he was surprised Gross would have agreed to take Quaglin’s case solo knowing he would be unavailable for the trial date.

“The age of this case has largely been because of Mr. Quaglin, and if there’s a continuance that will be because of Mr. Quaglin,” McFadden said.

Gross also told McFadden he disputed some of the judge’s characterizations of the case history in his denial of the motion for release and planned an additional filing to correct the record.

Quaglin and two other defendants, Steven Cappuccio and Federico Klein, were scheduled to begin a bench trial before McFadden on April 10. If convicted of the most serious charges against them, the men could face lengthy prison sentences. Last week, McFadden ordered another defendant in the case, Tristan Chandler Stevens, to serve five years in prison for assaulting police with a riot shield.

We're tracking all of the arrests, charges and investigations into the January 6 assault on the Capitol. Sign up for our Capitol Breach Newsletter here so that you never miss an update.

Before You Leave, Check This Out