HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The first anniversary of the attack on the U.S. Capitol finds most of the people from North Alabama – or arrested in North Alabama – on related charges have pending court dates. But, those aren’t the only looming cases with North Alabama ties in connection with the January 6 attack.
Joshua James of Arab and Dillon Herrington of Madison are both scheduled for late January court dates and Lonnie Coffman of Falkville has an April 1 sentencing date on a weapons charge. Two other people from other states – who were arrested in Huntsville in connection with the riots – are also facing court dates: Kenneth Joseph Owen Thomas is due in court Jan. 25 and Stephanie Baez of California is due in court on January 27.
There is also a hearing set for Monday in the federal lawsuit filed by California Congressman Eric Swalwell against former President Donald Trump, Rudolph Giuliani and Huntsville-area Congressman Mo Brooks. Swalwell’s lawsuit accuses Brooks — who spoke at the Stop the Steal rally the morning of January 6 — of directly inciting the violence that unfolded last Jan. 6. Brooks has denied the claims saying he was talking the Electoral College certification and about future elections.
In a July court filing Brooks included his speech from Washington, D.C. that morning, including this passage, “But let’s be clear, regardless of today’s outcome the 2022 and 2024 elections are right around the corner, and America does not need an cannot stand, cannot tolerate any more weakling, cowering, wimpy Republican Congressman and Senators who covet the power and the privilege the swamp has to offer, while groveling at the feet and the knees of their special interest group masters.
“As such, today is important in another way, today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking (bleep).”
The Jan. 6 attack took place as the U.S. Congress was in the midst of voting to certify the Electoral College results. Brooks spoke in opposition to the certification in the House that day, claiming Joe Biden benefitted from widespread voter fraud. He was joined by nearly 140 House Republicans in opposing the certification, but Biden was recognized by both the House and U.S. Senate as the winner of the Electoral College vote.
Brooks’ name has been linked to organizing the Jan. 6 rally and claims that his staff had a role in planning it. He has also said that people who entered the Capitol that day unlawfully should be prosecuted.
At Monday’s federal court hearing, the court will hear arguments about presidential immunity from being sued, First Amendment rights and on the question of whether Brooks should be immune from being sued, because he was acting in his official capacity as a congressman.
The Department of Justice disagreed with Brooks’ claim that his appearance at the rally was based on his work representing Alabama’s 5th Congressional District. The DOJ, in a July court filing, said Brooks’ appearance at the rally was campaign activity.
“The record indicates that Brooks’s appearance at the January 6 rally was campaign activity, and it is no part of the business of the United States to pick sides among candidates in federal elections,” the DOJ said in the in filing. “Members of Congress are subject to a host of restrictions that carefully distinguish between their official functions, on the one hand, and campaign functions, on the other. The conduct at issue here thus is not the kind a Member of Congress holds office to perform, or substantially within the authorized time and space limits, as required by governing law.”
Brooks responded to those claims in an August court filing.
“The Brooks’ tweets and Ellipse Speech, given at the request of the White House, regardless of whether they were right or wrong, are clearly in the context of House Floor votes later in the day on electoral college vote issues; protecting Brooks’ White House relationship to preserve and promote space and defense jobs in Alabama’s 5th Congressional District …”
The judge has given both sides 10 minutes to argue the issue Monday.