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Judge scolds Jan. 6 attorney for missing deadlines, hearings — but agrees to delay high-profile trial

A federal judge told defense attorney Joseph McBride this week he's been "MIA" in his defendant Christopher Quaglin's case.

WASHINGTON — A federal judge scolded an attorney representing multiple Jan. 6 clients this week for missing hearings and filing deadlines – but granted him a continuance that could push a high-profile case into early 2023.

U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden ordered attorney Joseph McBride and one of his clients, Christopher Quaglin, to appear before him Monday to discuss a motion from McBride asking for Quaglin’s October trial date to be rescheduled.

Quaglin, a New Jersey electrician who prosecutors have linked in filings to the Proud Boys, is accused of lunging at and assaulting multiple officers with his hands, pepper spray and a stolen riot shield during the attack on the Capitol. He’s one of nine co-defendants indicted in connection with the sustained assault on police inside the Lower West Terrace Tunnel, which was the scene of some of the most violent and prolonged attacks on officers during the Capitol riot. Quaglin individually faces 13 counts in that indictment, including multiple felony counts of assaulting and inflicting bodily injury on police.

Because of the number of defendants, the case was scheduled to be tried in two groups – the first later this month and the second, of which Quaglin is a member, on Oct. 3. That second group may now have to wait until February for trial, however, after Judge McFadden reluctantly agreed to the continuance requested by McBride. Before granting it, Judge McFadden told McBride, who filed his motion weeks after asking other judges for a continuance, that he was displeased to be the last to know about the request.

“I’ve got to be frank, sir, I’m not happy about how this has all played out,” Judge McFadden said.

In a July 12 filing in a case before U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper, McBride explained he had contracted COVID-19 in late May and had not fully recovered. In the process, he said, doctors had informed him he had chronic lyme disease – a controversial diagnosis with little support among medical experts, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He then filed a similar request for an extension and continuance on July 19 with U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan.

The D.C. District Court is currently working through a backlog of cases pending from the pandemic shutdown as well as hundreds of cases connected to the Capitol riot. Judge McFadden told Quaglin because of how packed the trial calendar is, any delay might mean the trial couldn’t be held until February. For Quaglin, who has been in pretrial detention since his arrest in April 2021, that could mean another half a year in jail. Judge McFadden asked him pointedly Monday if he would prefer to seek different counsel.

“If you stay with Mr. McBride, you may well end up [in jail] for another six months before you have a trial,” McFadden said.

Quaglin responded that he believed McBride was “the man for the job.”

Quaglin and McBride attempted to raise issues Monday about his ongoing confinement at the Northern Neck Regional Jail in Virginia and his access to discovery, but Judge McFadden cut them off. He said those issues could have been addressed at previous hearings where other attorneys were present but McBride wasn’t. Prosecutors said McBride also hadn’t taken part in a meeting with other defense attorneys to address discovery issues.

“Frankly, your attorney has not been available for meetings with the court, meetings with the prosecutor,” Judge McFadden said.

When McBride raised an objection, Judge McFadden shut it down.

“Mr. McBride, you haven’t been around! You’ve been MIA,” Judge McFadden said, adding that it was very hard to believe that “Mr. Quaglin, and only Mr. Quaglin,” was having the issues McBride described at Northern Neck.

McBride filed a habeas petition with the court in April alleging the facility was violating Quaglin’s rights. That petition is still being litigated.

Court records show McBride hasn’t been present for at least five hearings in Quaglin’s case, including three consecutive status conferences in February, March and April where another defendant’s attorney stood in on his behalf. He’s missed filing deadlines in at least two other Jan. 6 defendant's case as well, according to court records, at least twice by more than a week.

In Quaglin’s case, McBride missed the deadline to file pretrial motions by nearly two months. Judge McFadden ordered attorneys to get such motions in by June 3. On July 29, McBride filed his motion for an extension.

“Did I miss some motion for an extension to filing deadlines?” Judge McFadden asked Monday. “The deadline is not after the deadlines have passed.”

On Thursday, Judge McFadden denied that motion. While he did allow Quaglin to join filings by other defendants, Judge McFadden’s ruling means Quaglin likely won’t be able to file common pretrial motions to suppress statements or restrict evidence prosecutors might seek to show a jury.

“He could have sought an extension of time to file his motions but he did not,” Judge McFadden wrote in his order. “In this multi-defendant case, none of the other eight defendants struggled to meet the Court’s deadlines. Quaglin deserves no special treatment.”

While he’s been missing deadlines in his cases, though, McBride’s social media accounts show he has continued making frequent television and podcast appearances. WUSA9 identified at least nine appearances by McBride over the period he’s made representations in court about his delayed recovery.

On June 8, more than a week after a deadline to file motions had passed in his client Richard Barnett’s case – and on the same day he asked for a 30-day extension to continue recovering from COVID-19 – McBride appeared on conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza’s podcast.

On July 19, the same day McBride asked a judge to grant him a 60-day extension in the case of a third defendant, Ryan Nichols, he appeared on Newsmax for an interview. Two days later, he and Barnett appeared for a joint interview on OAN.

On July 27, more than a month after the pretrial motions filing deadline in Quaglin’s case had expired and two days before asking McFadden for a continuance and extension, McBride appeared for an hourlong interview on Rudy Giuliani’s podcast.

While other defense attorneys in Jan. 6 cases have granted interviews to the press – including to WUSA9 — McBride has become one of the most visible thanks to regular appearances where he frequently compares the prosecution of Jan. 6 defendants to Nazi Germany and the Soviet Gulag.

McBride and Barnett – an Arkansas man photographed with his feet on Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s desk – were featured prominently in Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s “Patriot Purge” series about Jan. 6, which promoted the unsubstantiated claim that federal agents incited the riot to entrap supporters of former President Donald Trump. That’s a claim McBride hasn’t been able to back up in court. In December, U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan wrote in a filing denying Nichols a bond review that McBride had conceded on the record his “allegations of ‘entrapment’ lack any factual support.”

Lat year, in another appearance on Carlson’s show, McBride told viewers a man seen in red face paint and a “Keep America Great” hat during the assault on the Capitol was “clearly a law enforcement officer” and agent provocateur, according to a HuffPost story by reporter Ryan Reilly. When confronted by Reilly with the fact that the individual in question was in fact a man well known to St. Louis Cardinals fans as “Rally Runner” because of his habit of running around the outside of Busch Stadium – and not, more importantly, a federal agent – McBride replied, “If I’m wrong, so be it, bro. I don’t care. I don’t give a s*** about being wrong.”

Last week, in an appearance on conservative commentator Jesse Kelly’s show, McBride again repeated unsupported claims about federal agents being involved in inciting the riot and incorrectly claimed Texas Three Percenter Guy Reffitt was prosecuted because he “had some conversations outside of the Capitol.” Reffitt was convicted in March of five felony counts for, among other things, carrying a concealed pistol while he led a mob on the Senate Wing steps and threatening to shoot his children if they spoke to the FBI. Reffitt was sentenced earlier this month to more than seven years in prison.

Asked by WUSA9 if he was prioritizing media appearances over meeting his filing deadlines, McBride called the question “hilarious” and said Quaglin’s health and welfare were his top priority.

“Everything else is secondary,” McBride told WUSA9 in an email.

McBride also said his clients “unequivocally” supported his regular media presence and downplayed the time he invested in it.

“My clients are proud that their attorney is publicly speaking out against the January 6th Committee’s purposeful poisoning of the jury pool, as well as the insurrectionist narrative being proliferated by the mainstream media,” he said. “It is literally something that they regularly thank me for.”

Barnett, still awaiting his own trial, agreed with that assertion.

“I love Joe as a person and as a lawyer,” Barnett told WUSA9. “My family and I thank God every day for him.”

McBride declined to comment on Judge McFadden’s statement in court that he’d been “MIA” in Quaglin’s case. He filed a habeas petition in defendant Nichols' case on Wednesday, along with a number of pretrial motions late Thursday — the new deadline set by Judge Hogan last month.

On Thursday, Judge McFadden denied the Group 1 defendants’ request for a trial continuance. Quaglin and other Group 2 defendants were set to appear in court next for an Aug. 23 status conference, at which point Judge McFadden said a new trial date would be set.

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