'QAnon Shaman,' Capitol rioter who wore horns, hires new lawyers

Stephanie Keith
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WASHINGTON — The Arizona man known as the “QAnon Shaman” did not “personally authorize” the hiring of new lawyers who raised the possibility of appealing his conviction, according to a statement from his original lawyer.

The man, Jacob Chansley, who wore face paint and a horned, furry hat during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, was sentenced last week to 41 months in prison, one of the longest sentences handed down so far.

John Pierce, a lawyer who represents several other Jan. 6 defendants, entered a notice of appearance in Chansley’s case on Monday afternoon. That was followed by a statement from the National Constitutional Law Union, a conservative nonprofit founded by Pierce, declaring Pierce and another lawyer, William Shipley, would be representing Chansley going forward.

But in a later statement, Chansley’s original lawyer, Albert Watkins, said he “personally spoke with Mr. Chansley who confirmed he did not personally authorize Mr. Pierce to represent him.”

Pierce did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The original statement from the NCLU said Chansley would be “pursuing all remedies available to him under the Constitution and federal statutory law with respect to the outcome of the criminal prosecution of him by the United States Department of Justice.”

That would include a possible “direct appeal” of his conviction and his sentence and claims of “ineffective assistance of counsel,” according to the statement.

Pierce represents 26 other Jan. 6 defendants and once represented Kyle Rittenhouse.

Pierce drew attention over the summer when he missed several court hearings in his Jan. 6 cases, instead sending an associate in his place. The associate, who was not licensed to practice law, said Pierce was in the hospital with Covid-19.

Prosecutors filed a notice that they had been unable to reach Pierce and that his clients were essentially without counsel. He eventually showed up and filed a notification that he had been in the hospital for 12 days; he did not confirm the reason for his hospitalization.

Chansley gave up most of his rights to appeal when he agreed in September to plead guilty to a count of obstruction of an official proceeding. Claiming ineffective assistance of counsel would be one of his few options under the plea agreement.

To prove such a claim, Chansley would have to show that Watkins failed to competently represent him and that lack of competent representation had a direct impact on the result of his case.

Watkins said at a previous hearing that Chansley no longer wanted to be known as the “QAnon Shaman.” QAnon is a far-right conspiracy theory whose followers back former President Donald Trump and believe Democrats and other rivals of Trump promote child sex trafficking.

Chansley expressed remorse at his sentencing hearing, saying his behavior was “indefensible.”

“I was wrong for entering the Capitol,” he told the judge. “I have no excuse. No excuse whatsoever.”