A conversation between a federal judge and a lawyer for Oath Keepers accused of seditious conspiracy ended in a shouting match Wednesday when the lawyer suggested he would argue at trial that his client suppressed evidence after the riots because he directed it. another lawyer.
Juli Haller, who represents Oath Keeper Kelly Meggs, told U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta that she was arguing that Oath Keepers’ general counsel, Kellye SoRell, ordered her to delete text messages from her phone after the incidents.
Meggs has since been charged with tampering with the alleged act and has pleaded not guilty.
“How come today, 10 days before the trial, I’m told first of all you can advance a defense counsel,” Mehta yelled at Halle.
The argument is indicative of many unresolved legal issues ahead of the trial later this month of the five leaders of the far-right Oath Keepers militia group – the first seditious conspiracy trial since January 6.
The trial will be a major test of the DOJ’s decision to prosecute the rarely used charge, and unresolved legal disagreements could implicate how they presented their case.
Haller said he learned of the allegation only after SoRell, who was indicted federally two weeks ago, testified to a grand jury in June. His testimony has not been previously reported.
SoRell faces charges including obstructing an official proceeding and obstructing justice by telling others to delete information from their phones. He has declared himself innocent.
Mehta said the allegation that SoRelle suggested others should delete the posts was not new. “I read it in the paper a month ago,” Mehta yelled at Halle, adding, “I don’t buy it,” and “he was under indictment.”
“What accusation? First, second, sixth,” Haller yelled at Mehta. The two continued to cut each other off, with Haller claiming it was new information and Mehta dismissing his arguments. The prosecutor shook his head violently.
Mehta finally told Halle to sit down, but she didn’t. Another lawyer suggested an adjournment of the hearing, and Mehta shouted “no”.