The Justice Department notified judges Monday that at least 17 defendants from the January 6 Capitol Breach are now “effectively without counsel,” citing the absence of high-profile lawyer John Pierce, who says he’s sick with Covid-19. Instead of Pierce showing up to court, he’s tapped an associate, Ryan Marshall, who is notably not a licensed attorney and facing two felony charges.
“The Department of Justice (DOJ) says in a new filing it appears (John Pierce’s) 17 #CapitolRiot defendants are ‘effectively without counsel,’ and notes Ryan Marshall, who has been appearing in Pierce’s place, is not a licensed attorney,” reported WUSA9 investigative reporter Jordan Fischer on Monday.
According to the WUSA9 report, Pierce has been “out of contact” and “missed multiple court hearings” since August 23.
Marshall reportedly told a judge last week he believed Pierce was “ill with COVID-19, on a ventilator, and unresponsive,” according to the DOJ filing.
However, some of Pierce’s associates allegedly told NPR the lawyer was not on a ventilator, but told others he’s “suffering from dehydration and exhaustion.”
The DOJ seems to be just as confused as the rest of us about whether John Pierce is actually in the hospital with COVID-19. Marshall said in court Pierce was on a ventilator, but another colleague later told NPR he was not. #CapitolRiot pic.twitter.com/11eYAeYLWi
— Jordan Fischer (@JordanOnRecord) August 30, 2021
“Because Mr. Pierce is unavailable and Mr. Marshall cannot ethically or legally represent Mr. Pierce’s clients, the government is making the Court aware of Mr. Pierce’s reported illness so that it can take any steps it believes necessary to ensure the defendant’s rights are adequately protected while Mr. Pierce remains hospitalized,” the DOJ filing said.
Aside from not being a licensed attorney, Marshall is “facing felony charges in two separate cases in Pennsylvania, including one case involving his ‘alleged participation in a conspiracy to commit fraud while clerking for a judge on the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas, according to the DOJ,” the report noted.
As of now, the defendants’ cases are “effectively at a standstill,” according to the DOJ.
“It was not clear whether Pierce had a succession plan – which would include case information and instructions for another attorney or attorneys to take over for his clients – and no one other than Marshall has appeared on his behalf in the past week,” the report said.
Pierce came to fame after he took on the case of teenager Kyle Rittenhouse, who was charged with shooting three protesters, two fatally, during an anti-police riot in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
“Rittenhouse was arrested after allegedly killing two men and wounding a third during a riot in Kenosha last year,” The Daily Wire reported in February. “The 18-year-old has been charged with two felony counts of homicide and one count of felony attempted homicide.”
Rittenhouse is not currently a client of Pierce’s.
The attorney is listed as counsel to defendants including Proud Boy William Pepe, alleged Oath Keeper Kenneth Harrelson, and Texas resident Shane Jenkins, according to WUSA9.