D.C. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson acquitted a January 6 defendant of obstruction on Friday after ruling that prosecutors presented no evidence that the defendant intended to stop Congress that day.
Joshua Black of Alabama was cleared of the charge because Jackson said the “unique stew in his mind” that was described during the trial showed that Black did not know that what he was participating in was unlawful. Black was convicted of other charges, including carrying a deadly weapon on Capitol grounds.
Black was arrested shortly after the riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. After the riot, he traveled back to Alabama and posted a video on YouTube describing his time in the U.S. Capitol. That video, as well as an anonymous tip, led the FBI to Black.
Images and video from the riot show Black in the U.S. Senate chamber with a bloody cheek. Black said his cheek was bloody because he was hit by a projectile earlier that day while he was attempting to protect law enforcement from some of the protesters.
Black said in the since-deleted video posted to YouTube that he was led to the Senate chamber by God.
“I just felt like the spirit of God wanted me to go into the Senate room,” he said.
Jackson alluded to Black’s justification in her decision to acquit the defendant of obstruction of justice.
Black’s attorneys said that Black believed that the 2020 election had already been certified by the time he walked into the U.S. Capitol and the Senate chamber. Jackson said that prosecutors made no argument rebutting the defense.
Jackson was appointed by former President Barack Obama and has typically been tough on defendants in trials related to the riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. She has also been a vocal critic of former President Donald Trump and some of his Republican supporters, accusing them of being “so afraid of losing their power.”
“The judiciary … has to make it clear: It is not patriotism, it is not standing up for America to stand up for one man — who knows full well that he lost — instead of the Constitution he was trying to subvert,” Jackson said in September.
The judge’s comments came as she delivered the sentence of defendant Kyle Young, who pleaded guilty to assaulting a police officer and was sentenced to 86 months in prison.