WASHINGTON (KNKWA/KFTA) — On May 31, the prosecution submitted a handful of filings in its case against Gravette’s Richard Barnett, 61, regarding his actions during the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
The key points of the filings include clarifying language in the indictment against Barnett, as well as limiting the scope of potential Secret Service testimony in order to prevent cross-examination that could “compromise national security without adding any appreciable benefit to the determination of the truth.”
The motion to strike portions of the indictment refers to specific language addressing the “Vice President-elect” in the counts against the defendant. Both then-Vice President Pence and Vice President-elect Harris were present at the time, and some of the charges against Barnett pertain to actions taken in “a building or grounds where the President or other person protected by the Secret Service is or will be temporarily visiting.”
The motion goes on to explain that United States Secret Service is authorized to protect both the Vice President and the Vice President-elect, both of whom were present on January 6. Attached statements from a United States Capitol Police Sergeant and a staff assistant for the Secret Service provided details about the whereabouts of both that day.
“Deleting reference to the Vice-President-elect simply ‘narrows’ the scope of the charges, which ‘adds nothing new to the grand jury’s indictment and constitutes no impermissible broadening,'” the filing notes. The motion is signed by U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves and assistant U.S. attorneys Mary Dohrmann and Alison Prout.
The government filed a separate motion in limine regarding the cross-examination of Secret Service witnesses at trial. It states that the government intends to call an agent “to meet its burden of proof at trial,” and adds that the agent will “testify that at the time of the Capitol breach, Secret Service agents were on duty to protect Vice President Mike Pence and his two immediate family members, all of whom were present at the Capitol.”
The motion notes the innate privileged nature of information that Secret Service agents have, thus seeking to limit the scope of potential cross-examination for security purposes.
The very nature of the Secret Service’s role in protecting the Vice President and his family implicates sensitive information related to that agency’s ability to protect high-ranking members of the Executive branch and, by extension, national security.United States motion in limine filed on May 31 in U.S.A. vs. Richard Barnett case
The document goes on to specify that Barnett’s defense should be “specifically foreclosed” from questioning witnesses about Secret Service protocols related to the locations of protected individuals, including their motorcades, and other details such as the number and type of agents involved in protection duty.
The filing notes that the court has the discretion to limit precisely this type of cross-examination, noting relevant case law to support that stance. The filing goes on to ask that cross-examination be specifically limited to testimony regarding whether the Capitol was restricted on the date in question.
Lastly, the government filed an omnibus motion seeking to “preclude three categories of evidence and arguments.” Specifically, they requested that the defense not be allowed to introduce the following:
- “Evidence or argument related to any potential penalty”
- “Evidence or argument intended to elicit jury nullification”
- “Defense evidence not produced in reciprocal discovery, and expert witnesses and affirmative defenses not identified pursuant to the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure”
The motion continues by explaining each of those points. The prosecution notes that “arguments or evidence regarding punishment are improper because the potential penalties faced by a defendant are irrelevant to the jury’s determination of guilt or innocence.”
The “jury nullification” portion of the document regarded the government’s concern that the defense might “claim that the defendant has been unfairly singled out for prosecution because of his political views,” as well as Barnett’s “work life or any family hardships.” It cited multiple prior cases indicating that such testimony should be inadmissible.
The final section states that the defense is required to provide “notice and a written summary” of any expert witness opinions. It also notes that the defense has still “not produced any reciprocal discovery,” despite multiple written requests.
“The defendant has not provided the United States with any notices, documents or statements,” the filing states. “Accordingly, the United States seeks to exclude any evidence and disclosures that should have been produced in reciprocal discovery.”
The prosecution also noted that Barnett used video clips “apparently recorded on [his] phone” as exhibits in support of his attempt to receive a pretrial release. When the government executed a search warrant and examined the defendant’s phone, including his iCloud account, they discovered that he had allegedly “deleted all data reflecting his activities in Washington, D.C., on January 6, 2021.”
In a January 6 interview with investigators, Barnett told law enforcement that he turned off location services on his phone while driving back to Arkansas and that he “used only cash and kept his face covered.” He also told agents that they “may not find much at his house because he is a ‘smart man.'”
Barnett is charged with: Obstruction of an Official Proceeding; Aiding and Abetting; Entering and Remaining in a Restricted Building or Grounds with a Deadly or Dangerous Weapon; Disorderly and Disruptive Conduct in a Restricted Building or Grounds with a Deadly or Dangerous Weapon; Entering and Remaining in Certain Rooms in the Capitol Building; Disorderly Conduct in a Capitol Building; Parading, Demonstrating, or Picketing in a Capitol Building; Theft of Government Property.
He has pleaded not guilty to all charges, and his trial is scheduled to begin on September 6.