On Sunday, April 7, 2024, JonathanTurley.org reported that Judge Reggie Walton of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia had been rebuked by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals regarding a surveillance order he issued in a January 6th Capitol riot case.

According to the report, Judge Walton had recently stirred controversy by publicly criticizing former President Donald Trump in an interview with CNN about Trump’s comments on judges, which were matters currently being litigated in courts. Critics argued Walton’s interview violated ethics rules against public commentary by judges about pending cases.

The Jonathanturley.org article described how Walton had then ordered that the computer of a January 6th defendant, Daniel Goodwyn, be monitored by probation agents for any potential sharing of “disinformation” or “misinformation” during his supervised release term. Goodwyn had pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge for unlawfully entering the Capitol grounds.

However, the D.C. Circuit Court ruled that Walton had “plainly erred” by imposing the computer monitoring condition without properly considering sentencing guidelines that mandate conditions must be reasonably related to sentencing factors and involve no more limitation of liberty than necessary. The appeals court suggested Walton needed to establish a clear record and justification for allowing such a search by the government.

The report further discussed how the Justice Department had vowed to use “shock and awe” tactics against January 6th defendants to deter others. While the computer monitoring of political opinions was troubling, the article noted Walton was still permitting the government overreach by easily signing off on such requests. Some January 6th defendants had also been compelled to publicly disavow certain beliefs as a bail condition.

In covering the D.C. Circuit ruling, the JonathanTurley.org piece raised concerns about definitions of “disinformation” being too subjective and the chilling effects of letting the government monitor communications under this pretense. The story implied the judiciary still had work to do in curbing the government’s overzealous approach toward January 6th cases.

 

 

Source: JonathanTurley.org