Defendants in U.S. Capitol attack have no attorney after lawyer contracts COVID-19: prosecutors

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Pro-Trump protesters storm into the U.S. Capitol during clashes with police, during a rally to contest the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results by the U.S. Congress, in Washington, U.S, January 6, 2021. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

  • Pierce has COVID-19, is on ventilator, unresponsive -government
  • Prosecutors say 17 defendants in Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol attack left without representation
  • Pierce Bainbridge’s phone numbers no longer in service

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(Reuters) – Federal prosecutors said on Monday that 17 defendants who have been charged in connection with the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump have no attorney as John Pierce, the lawyer who has been representing them, is reportedly on a ventilator and unresponsive after contracting COVID-19.

Prosecutors said in a filing in Washington, D.C. federal court that although Ryan Marshall, a Pierce Bainbridge associate and chief financial officer of Pierce’s National Constitutional Law Union, has been acting in Pierce’s stead, he is not a licensed attorney and cannot advise Pierce’s clients.

Marshall might not be able to obtain a bar license at all due to the criminal charges he is facing in Pennsylvania, prosecutors noted. Marshall was allegedly involved in a scheme to defraud a widow, according to an August 2020 Pittsburgh Tribune-Review report prosecutors cited.

Marshall did not respond to a request for comment.

Prosecutors made the filing in the case of Casey Cusick, 35, a Florida pastor facing charges relating to the Jan. 6 assault — including violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds — and said the case was at a standstill from the government’s perspective.

Cusick, who has pleaded not guilty, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Prosecutors said since Marshall is not an attorney, it is not appropriate to communicate with him regarding Pierce’s clients.

“Unfortunately, it seems that Mr. Pierce may be hospitalized and unable to communicate, and it is unclear when Mr. Pierce will recover,” prosecutors said in their filing.

It’s unclear whether Pierce’s firm Pierce Bainbridge is still operating. The firm saw a string of departures last year, which led to it shortening its name from Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht. The phone numbers for Pierce Bainbridge, as well as its only two partners, Pierce and Jim Bainbridge, were no longer in service as of Monday.

The government noted there have been conflicting news reports about the exact status of Pierce’s health. An NPR reporter on Wednesday said a friend of Pierce’s told him Pierce did not have COVID-19 but was hospitalized due to “dehydration and exhaustion.” That same reporter on Thursday said another source told him Pierce contracted COVID-19 but was not on a ventilator.

Prosecutors said they have not had any contact with Pierce since Aug. 23. A prolific Twitter user, Pierce has not tweeted anything since Aug. 20, the government noted.

Pierce has previously represented Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s former personal lawyer, and Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old facing homicide charges stemming from protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

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Florida pastor facing U.S. Capitol riot charges has court hearing

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