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Thursday, July 11, 2024

Jury in Jan. 6 case asks judge about risk of angry defendant accessing their personal information

Capitol riot defendant Brandon Fellows alarmed jurors hearing his case with outbursts about what he called “a kangaroo court” and a “Nazi court” after he was found in contempt of court Thursday.

Some of the jurors in the case wrote a note to Judge Trevor McFadden, a 2017 appointee to the D.C. court, to ask about any risk that Fellows could obtain their personal information, including their home addresses.

“1 question,” they wrote. “We wanted to confirm that the defendent [sic] does not have any personal information on individual jurors, since he was defending himself. Includes home address, etc.”

Judge McFadden had a brief response for the jurors. “Both parties are given limited biographical information on prospective jurors at the outset of the trial,” he wrote. “The court collects those sheets from the parties at the conclusion of the trial.”

Asked for comment, a spokesperson for the court said security measures cannot be discussed or disclosed.

David Becker, the executive director of the nonprofit Center for Election Innovation and Research, said that McFadden’s response was “unusual and troubling.”

“The jurors have legitimate concern about their safety, and rather than telling them, quite simply, that there’s no way that the defendant has their personal information —name, address, cell numbers, etc.— this response could likely heighten the concerns of the jurors,” he said.

“The safety concerns of jurors are significant, both here, in Washington, D.C., and in places like Georgia,” he added.

President Trump and 18 other defendants are facing racketeering and other charges in Fulton County, Georgia, over alleged attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election in Georgia.

Fellows faced a five-count indictment that included a felony charge of obstruction, and on Thursday, the jury convicted him on all five counts. He was accused of entering the office of Senator Jeffrey Merkley during the Capitol breach, and was filmed propping his feet on an office desk while wearing a fake orange beard.

In July 2021, McFadden revoked bail forFellows, after prosecutors said Fellows had left rambling and sometimes obscene voicemails for his pretrial services officer and once called her mother, which left both the officer and her mother feeling nervous. Probation officer Kendra Rennie said Fellows had been “problematic” throughout their contact while he was released on bail. She said he had made sexual innuendos and frequently left her rambling, overly long voicemails. When he was asked to look for work, she said, he applied to Albany’s FBI office, which she took to be sarcastic.

Several other judges in Washington, D.C., have noted that court personnel regularly receive threats for handling Jan. 6 cases.

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