Marjorie Taylor Greene claims jailed Capitol riot suspects’ own public defenders call them ‘white supremacists’

The Georgia congresswoman claims that federal public defenders won’t represent accused Capitol rioters unless they read ‘critical race theory training’ materials

Andrew Feinberg
Washington, DC
Tuesday 07 December 2021 23:47 GMT
Majorie Taylor Greene accuses DC federal public defenders of calling January 6 defendants 'white supremacists'

Georgia Representative Majorie Taylor Greene has accused attorneys from the Washington, DC Office of the Federal Public Defender of defaming their clients as “white supremacists” and forcing them to consume “critical race theory training” as a condition of being represented by them in cases stemming from the 6 January insurrection.

Ms Greene made the incendiary accusations on Tuesday at a bizarre press conference meant to denounce the conditions in the District of Columbia jail where roughly 40 to 50 accused Capitol rioters are being held without bail as they await trial.

Flanked by Reps Matt Gaetz of Florida and Louie Gohmert of Texas, the first-term congresswoman recounted a visit she and Mr Gohmert, a former Texas judge, made to the DC jail on 4 November. Ms Greene, Mr Gaetz and Mr Gohmert had previously attempted to visit the facility, located in southeastern Washington, DC, to show support for those Capitol riot defendants who’ve been found by judges to be too dangerous to release before trial.

Most of the defendants visited by the GOP representatives are accused of taking part in violent assaults on police officers during the 6 January insurrection, or of organising or leading the pro-Trump mob’s entry into the building to prevent Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s 2020 election win.

“The January 6th defendants that I spoke to and asked questions to at the jail said that if they have a public defender ... their public defenders hate them,” Ms Greene said.

The attorneys charged with representing Capitol riot defendants are part of the District of Columbia federal public defender’s office, which is an arm of the DC federal court system established under the Criminal Justice Act of 1964.

The office is headed by a federal defender who is appointed by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit for a four-year term. Unlike many understaffed and underwhelmed state and local public defender’s offices, federal public defenders’ salaries are by law set equal to those of the federal prosecutors who they face off with in court. A 2011 survey by former federal judge Richard Posner found that judges generally find the quality of representation provided to indigent defendants by federal defenders to be of higher quality than that of most private or court-appointed lawyers.

But Ms Greene claimed that the attorneys assigned to represent indigent 6 January defendants are acting out of “a big political bias” that is prevalent in the DC federal courts.

“They’re being represented by public defenders that call them white supremacist, tell them they have to denounce President Trump, tell them they have to denounce their political views, want them to watch videos and read books that basically is critical race theory training, in order for them to have this public defender represent them,” she said.

When The Independent attempted to clarify whether she was accusing federal public defenders of deliberately sandbagging their clients, Ms Greene did not respond.

The Georgia congresswoman, who was stripped of her committee assignments earlier this year for her adherence to conspiracy theories about school shootings, appeared to be referring to the case of Anna Morgan-Lloyd, who in June pleaded guilty to one of the charges she faced from her participation in the 6 January insurrection in exchange for three years probation, $500 in restitution and community service.

But the attorney who represented Ms Morgan-Lloyd, a veteran District of Columbia defence attorney called Heather Shaner, is not an employee of the DC federal public defender, according to a federal public defender’s office directory reviewed by The Independent.

Ms Shaner, a 1976 graduate of the University of the District of Columbia’s David Clarke School of Law, is an attorney in private practice who is on a list of lawyers who can be appointed to represent indigent criminal defendants.

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