Jurors reject a range of defenses in Capitol Riot Trials.


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A retired New York City Police Officer will be the next juror to hear a Capitol Riot case

Jurors have heard — and rejected — an array of excuses and arguments from the first rioters to be tried for storming the U.S. Capitol. Another novel defense could be heard this week by the next Capitol riot jury, which will hear from a former New York City Police Officer.

Thomas Webster, a 20 year veteran of the NYPD has claimed that he acted in self-defense against a police officer who tried to protect the Capitol’s Capitol from a mob. Webster’s lawyer also argued that Webster was exercising his First Amendment rights to free speech when he shouted at police that day.

Webster, 56 years old, will be fourth Capitol riot defendant to go before a jury. Each of the defendants has provided a unique defense.

An Ohio man who stole a coat rack from a Capitol office testified he was “following presidential orders” from Donald Trump. Virginia’s off-duty police officer claimed that he was only there to retrieve a fellow officer. The lawyer representing a Texas man confronted Capitol Police and accused them of hurrying to judge against someone who is prone to exaggerate.

They didn’t convince the juries of their respective trials by presenting these defenses. All together, 36 jurors found the three rioters guilty of all 17 indictments.

Webster is likely to face the same fate, if a federal court judge’s harsh words are any indication. U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta, who will preside over Webster’s trial, has described his videotaped conduct as “among the most indefensible and reprehensible” that the judge has seen among Jan. 6 cases, with “no real defense for it.”

“You were a police officer and you should have known better,” Mehta told Webster during a bond hearing last June, according to a transcript.

Webster, a U.S. Marine Corps Veteran who retired from NYPD in 2011, will be decided by a dozen jurors and not the judge. The jury selection process is set to begin Monday.

In many cases, prosecutors have the upper hand due to the wealth of video evidence as well as self-incriminating behavior from riot defendants. Mary McCord is a Georgetown University Law Center professor who was formerly a Justice Department official. She said jurors will not often need to rely on witnesses testimony or circumstantial evidence since videos of much of Jan. 6’s violence and destruction were captured.

“When I was a prosecutor trying cases, I would have loved to have had cases where the entire crime was on video. That just doesn’t happen that often. But for jurors, it can be very powerful,” she said.

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