Members of the Oath Keepers, including founder Stewart Rhodes, are asking for a change of venue before their upcoming sedition trial, citing the 'incessant negative publicity' of Jan. 6 defendants

Members of the Oath Keepers, including founder Stewart Rhodes, are asking for a change of venue before their upcoming sedition trial, citing the 'incessant negative publicity' of Jan. 6 defendants
Elmer Stewart Rhodes
Oath Keepers founder Elmer Stewart Rhodes was charged with seditious conspiracy in the January 6 investigation.Photo by Philip Pacheco/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
  • Attorneys for a group of Oath Keepers are asking for a change of venue in their federal sedition trial for the Jan. 6 attack.

  • The group of Oath Keepers, including founder Stewart Rhodes, argued that they cannot receive a fair trial in DC.

  • Attorneys for the group decried the "incessant negative publicity regarding J6 defendants."

Members of The Oath Keepers, a far-right extremist group, are requesting a venue change before their upcoming federal seditious conspiracy trial related to the January 6 riot — claiming they can not get an impartial jury in Washington, DC.

The defendants – including Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, Thomas Caldwell, Kelly Meggs, Kenneth Harrelson, and Jessica Watkins – said in a court filing on Friday that they "are merely seeking to avoid an Appeal issue" — referring to challenging the verdict in court — and "prevent the argument of local prejudice."

"Most recently, the 'Oath Keepers' have been all over the news," attorneys said in the court filing obtained by Insider, decrying the "incessant negative publicity regarding J6 defendants."

Jury selection is due to begin on September 27 for the trial, which is scheduled for late November. In the court filing, lawyers for the January 6 defendants said they have "sworn written responses to questionnaires admitting to a majority holding prejudgment bias."

"(January 6) trials before juries have resulted in unanimous jury verdicts promptly returned," the filing said. "The defendants' argument, which time has only supported, is that no J6 defendant has been acquitted on any count, much less any case — by a jury, to date, in the District of Columbia."

Per the court filing, the attorneys suggested the case be moved to US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia "for the convenience of the government and the court."

Attorneys for the defendants also argued that media coverage of the January 6 riot at the Capitol and the House Select Committee investigating the attack would prevent a fair trial.

The House committee recently released audio recordings from a walkie-talkie app that the Oath Keepers used while inside the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

 

"The Zello recording portions that the court ruled inadmissible in this case were now highly publicized by Congress's J6 Committee (after the Court expressed skepticism of admissibility), which the Committee specifically claimed was a recording of the Oath Keepers showing their intent," attorneys for the defendants said in the court filing.

"That Congress would publicize a recording that the Court signaled would be inadmissible in part, is shocking."

Attorneys for the defendants did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment on Saturday.

A total of 919 people have been arrested and criminally charged in connection with the Capitol riot, and 396 of them have pleaded guilty thus far.

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