Observers in the courtroom broke out in tears as Judge Timothy Kelly sentenced Joseph Biggs to 204 months in prison for walking in the Capitol building for approximately 20 minuts during the Capitol riot on January 6.
The government sought 33 years for Biggs. Kelly ceded to the defense that the sentencing was egregious.
Kelly noted prior offenders who were found guilty of seditious conspiracy had all murdered people, attempted to murdered masses of people, bombed or attempted to bomb buildings and committed other violent crimes that resulted in mass casualty.
But the federal judge proceeded to throw the book at the decorated veteran who earned two purple hearts while serving in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
Biggs’ family was not present during the proceeding.
Biggs’ mother is ill with cancer as she raises his now 6-year-old daughter. She risks getting terminated from her job as other family members of J6 defendants have after thier employers catch wind that they are associated with a defemdamt deemed a J6 terrorist by the government.
A J6 advocate turned court reporter with AMP News, Suzzanne Monk, has attended nearly every day of the Proud Boys trial alongside this reporter.
“Judge Kelly’s decision is an attack on the constitutional principles of this country and will lead to far more violence and division in our nation,” Monk said. “He should stand down and recuse himself from all J6 cases. I love Joe. Joe Biggs a hero. He deserves none of this. None of these sentences will stand through appeals and congressional action.”
Read the partial transcript of Bigg’s sentencing hearing below:
Along the way, the court has made statements about what the jury found and what the court has found and there is a difference Kelly: And there is.
The point I tried to make about speech in trial; you were right on Tuesday when you said I could recite no case that would protect speech in the way I thought it should be in this case…
But the conundrum is, often speech is used to explain the crime. In this case, the crime was used to explain the speech.
KELLY: I would like you to consider the speech from his client made after all this.I have to consider a defendant in the wake of Jan. 6 seemed to celebrate it, who said, ‘Gee, if we’ve only gone further’… to the extent any defendant says things after a crime that suggest they would like to commit that crime again, isn’t that fair game?
PATTIS: Yes. I do too, but that’s a different point and I want to draw that distinction. In my view, the difference in this case, this was quintessential political behavior and something went wrong and now there are speech acts being used to prove there was a plan.
I watched a video of Donald Trump basically promising more of the same… saying “they” whoever “they are” are going to steal the election… 74M people listened to him. The government hasn’t charged Trump with seditious conspiracy…
[Pattis, turning around to prosecutors quips]
Maybe in the govt’s view we should ban the reading of Jefferson…”
Incendiary times require men to be careful. These men were careless… no question they engaged in crimes…but we think the crimes were overstated and overproven
Bowing up a pipeline is orders of magnitude away from what happened
KELLY: I see your point, but I don’t necessarily agree.
PATTIS: More than 1k people have been arrested already for Jan. 6, Pattis says, and he thinks another 1K will be… Then looking to make the distinction, he emphasizes the destruction of property to influence the govt vs destroying property to get into govt bldg.
For all that went wrong on Jan. 6, there was but $2.4M in damage, No monuments were defaced inside. Their intent wasn’t to commit arson or vandalism.
Biggs has a Purple Heart, took “risks on behalf on each and every one of us” He struggled with suicidal ideation, and alcohol use, but has “pulled himself up by his own bootstraps” and developed “great spiritual strength and resilience.”
I disagree Biggs is an ongoing threat to the public. I think we are an ongoing threat to ourselves. Just as we are in a situation where a presidential candidate is in a statistical dead heat with other candidates.
[Kelly cuts him off]
We’re not minimizing the offense, but its not more serious than it was, Pattis says. It was anticipated there would be a dispute, so USCP divided up their work force… they were understaffed.. I won’t go as far as some of my colleagues to suggest govt set this up.
The most powerful evidence was a video at Peace Circle before the first breach. Biggs and PB were chanting about Antifa. It was other Trump supporters who met them there that “raised the temperature” and for that, they were convicted
Growing up in the 70s, we had bombings every week, Pattis says. I watched high-profile figures be assasinated. The truce the people have with the govt is being restruck generation by generation.
Pattis says he heard what McCullough said today and after listening to it, he felt what the AUSA described was a govt he would not want to live under. “Nor would any American.” Well, Pattis is on Twitter, so go ahead, America, tell him.
I don’t want to minimize what Biggs and his compatriots did. They did delay… for some hours… I saw the fear in the eyes of public officials…good thing nothing [more serious] happened… To say PBs are worse than Oath Keepers is preposterous,
We were one phone call away from a shooting war that day because of Oath Keepers, Pattis argues. But Proud Boys just stormed a public building with people.
This jury concludes that at some moment he conspired to use force against the US govt and for that he must be punished. But our suggestion is that the punishment by govt is so extreme and will undermine 1 of most important purposes of sentencing guidelines: respect for the law.
First and foremost, I wanted to ask how you were doing. I know you weren’t feeling well. Kelly thanks him, he recalls during trial, he asked Biggs how he was feeling.
First and foremost, I wanted to ask how you were doing [Judge Kelly]. I know you weren’t feeling well.
[Kelly thanks him, he recalls during the trial he asked Biggs how he was feeling.]
I respect the process and the outcome. I don’t agree with it and that’s why I’m appealing. But I do respect it. I don’t have any grude toward any of you. I dont hate prosecutors. I prayed for all of you. I’m going to leave from this situation a better person.
I had time to think about who I am and who I want to be, especially. with all the time in solitary confinement. I dont want to be a person affiliated with anymore groups unless its my daughter’s PTA.
I’m in the “patriot pod” at the DC jail.. I am sick and tired of left vs. right. I’m tired of it. All I am m concerned about is my daughter’s life and her well-being,
I say that because when the govt alleges this entire conspiracy happened, my daughter was molested by her grandfather.
[He becomes choked up]
I thought about going to hurt the person who did this to her, but I decided better. After Jan. 6, that was going to be my last time with the Proud Boys and I was going to announce to the group that he was done.
I used that rhetoric and shit-talking to cope with what was going on in my family and not take violent action. I’m not a violent person and I proved that. I didn’t drive up there and lose control. The prosecution wants you to believe my military training kicked in, no it didn’t.
My military training would have told me to take a step back. My curiosity got the better of me and I will have to live with that for the rest of my life. I’m so sorry ”
[Biggs stops speaking for a moment, emotional and turns around halfway to face court behind]
I’m not a terrorist, I don’t hate people. I don’t have hate in his heart. Yes, after combat, I turned to drinking and then talking trash on internet.
I say a lot of stuff and use it as a way to deal with other things. I do it so I don’t become violent and so I don’t lash out. And I’m sorry – he sobs here – and I’ll live with that for the rest of my life. But I want to be there for my child.
I just want to be able to pick my daughter up from school.
[He ends his remarks.]
First, let me say a few things about Jan. 6 overall. Mr. Biggs, our constitution and laws give you so many important rights that Americans have fought and died for and that you, yourself, put on a uniform to defend.
To start with, you have right to vote for whoever you want for president, the right to speak out for that candidate, to convince others to vote for that candidate and if you dont like how an election is being conducted, or state/fed laws, you can speak out on that too
You can call or write elected officials. you can engage in peaceful protest and if you think you’ve been wronged, you can file a lawsuit in state or federal court. These are rights not just on paper but exercised by American citizens every day and they empower you…
And other Americans are envied in some ways by others around the world. But what you cannot do is what the jury found you did here, conspire and combine with others to try to stop with force congress’ ability to fulfill its role relating to the peaceful transfer
What happened on 1/6 not only physically damaged property and hurt people – and all of that is bad enough – and I’ll pause here to acknowledge offiers who provided victim impact smts and all who stood in harms way, they are heroes and deserve our respect, but…
In addition to all that, what happened that day… it broke our tradition of the peaceful transfer of power. Which is the most precious thing we had as Americans. Notice i say had, we don’t have it anymore. Perhaps we can start towards that
There were many statements admitted at trial of you advocating violence against lawmakers, police, your role of self-defense and planning that day; you did play a role in riling up the crowd — and I don’t mean to suggest that any of these things independent of themselves are crimes. I’m talking about your conduct that day.
Mr. Bigg, you did help pull down that fence. You were with the marching group at key points and others in that marching group ended up playing key roles at various breach points including your codefendant Dominic Pezzola.
You waved people in, you entered the senate gallery and made comments afterward that justified and celebrated what happened.
I’ve read the letters in support of Biggs. I believes Biggs wants to be a good father and that he appreciates how he has comported himself in court and treated the proceedings with dignity.
I don’t necessarily agree with govt that his military training made him more dangerous. He weighs much of this in Biggs’ favor, he says, but he still has to weigh deterrence and the need for the public to know what happened on 1/6 should never happen again and cannot happen again
You should be able to participate in politics like any citizen going forward but in the end, your comments afterward, celebrating and justifying what happened, I have to take that into account, just like I take into account what you told me here today
It’s not my job to label people a terrorist and my sentence today won’t do that, Kelly says. There’s sentencing guidelines here that talk about adjustments, departures for conduct and then lay it out and label it terrorism and my job is to apply this…
You asked me not to label you a terrorist, that’s for other people to argue about. My job is to apply the guidelines and law given the offense conduct and given statements you have made
Considering what is sufficient but not greater than necessary, 204 months, 17 YEARS IN PRISON.
It is 10 yrs below guidelines, 16 years below govts request. Now why is that? Largely 2 reasons: 1) While I think terrorism enhancement applies here and I have to respcet that it does, I think the downward variance is appropriate from where adjustment takes Biggs sentence
In almost all of the cases in which it has applied, the offense conduct suggests either an intent to kill other people or at least, a means that would either ersult in other people being killed by def or would have significant potential for 1 person killed or mass casualty event
Looking at intent and means here, I don’t think Biggs intended to kill people and if we look at means, destroying the fence, I dont think that had inherent within it the likelihood of mass casualties and that he did it with that intent.
Inherent what happned with fence was not danger of risking mass casualties
I’m not trying to minimize the violence that day of what happened to other people…. but I still have to recognize the ways in which the terrorism adjustment has played out in other cases and I do think for fact here, it ends up overstating his conduct.
I have to look at sentence disparities and if we look at cases bandied about that are potentially comparable… — like the OKers… I think the sentences judges imposed in these cases are nowhere like what govt is asking for here.
Now on other side of that scale, i dont think the nature of that day – while i do think blowing up a bldg somewhere is a very bad act, the nature of the constitutional moment we were in that day was so sensitive, it deserves a significant sentence which is what i’m giving.
[Kelly mentions Oath Keepers, says, you’re right Mr Pattis, on some level the evidence was as you laid out (the cache of guns at the QRF)…but there was timing about what they actually did and prepared to do that is different here]
Biggs stands to officially receive the final sentence by Judge Kelly. I cannot see his face (no one in the media room can). He has his hands resting on the podium and stands still.
He cant possess controlled substances; he must refrain from any use of controlled substance; he wilil be subjected to drug tests; will make restitution (unclear on $ for now); he must not associate or communicate with any person or org that advocates violence against the govt
Biggs is not to have access to social media or any other interactive text or email sites. He can’t have any material produced by any org that advocates violence against the govt. if he does so inadvertently, he must report this to his probation officer ASAP
He will be subject to computer monitoring and searches by his probation officer
Kelly says he does find that Biggs doesn’t have ability to pay a fine and Kelly will waive fines in this case. And he determines because Biggs can’t pay interest on restitution that will ultimately be set, so he waives interest but Biggs willl eventually need to make pymts
[McCullough, off mic, asked Kelly a question about how he came to sentencing decision around enhancements.]
I would have imposed precisely the same sentence had the terrorism guideline not applied. I did not bring it all the way down to where the guideline applied but I can say, if the terrorism adjustment hadn’t applied, would’ve sentenced him to the same.
Kelly: I know this is not the outcome you wanted, or the govt either, but I wish you the best of luck in your relationship with your daughter moving forward. I’ll just say that. i think it’s an appropriate sentence but I do wish you the best of luck with your daughter.
Pattis asked the court to seal comments made by Biggs about a family member’s assault but Pattis shoud know as well as anyone: he didnt ask for this before the hearing was being covered live by the press so its already out there
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