Judge denies Gravette man ‘unencumbered access’ to discovery databases in Capitol riot case

Judge denies Gravette man ‘unencumbered access’ to discovery databases in Capitol riot case

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A Gravette man won’t get “unencumbered access” to discovery databases that contain “voluminous and often extremely sensitive materials” from the U.S. Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, a federal judge in the District of Columbia ruled Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Christopher R. Cooper denied Richard “Bigo” Barnett access to the databases beyond the terms of an existing protective order “for the reasons set out in the government’s opposition.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary L. Dohrmann had asked the judge to deny Barnett “unencumbered access” to the databases, which contain thousands of hours of video from the Capitol riot.

“To grant the defendant ‘unencumbered access’ to the databases in question would pose a significant danger to the many individuals and entities whose sensitive data appears within them,” she wrote in a motion Monday.

Barnett’s attorney, Joseph D. McBride, filed a motion March 18 saying Barnett needed “unencumbered access” to the databases to better prepare for his defense. His trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 6.

McBride has access to the materials in the Discovery.com database and can share them with Barnett “subject to the terms of the protective order concerning videos designated as sensitive or highly sensitive,” Dohrmann wrote in her motion.

“Defense counsel may share even highly sensitive materials to defendants if certain conditions are met,” wrote Dohrmann.

Also, under certain conditions, “the government has even agreed to waive the requirement that a defendant be supervised while viewing highly sensitive video,” according to Dohrmann.

Another database, called Relativity, “contains an extensive volume of materials designated as highly sensitive under the protective order,” wrote Dohrmann. A member of Barnett’s legal defense team must supervise him if he views discovery in the Relativity database, unless the court orders otherwise or a “suitable compromise” has been reached with the assigned prosecutor, according to Dohrmann.

Barnett faces several charges in connection with the Capitol riot, including one accusing him of carrying a stun gun into the building.

Barnett gained wide media attention after he posed for pictures with his foot on a desk in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office suite.

In his ruling Wednesday, Cooper gave both sides more time to file suppression and pre-trial motions. Suppression motions are now due by April 18. Any other pre-trial motions must be filed by May 31.

Four Arkansans have been charged in connection with the breach of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Besides Barnett, Peter Francis Stager, 42, of Conway also faces felony charges. Stager is accused of using a flag pole to beat a police officer who was down on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.

The other two Arkansans, Jon Thomas Mott, 39, of Yellville and Robert Thomas Snow, 78, of Heber Springs, were charged with misdemeanors.

On March 24, as part of a plea agreement, Snow pleaded guilty to one count of 40 U.S.C. § 5104(e)(2)(G) — Parading, Demonstrating, or Picketing in a Capitol Building. His sentencing is scheduled for July 7.

Snow faces a maximum sentence of six months in jail, a $5,000 fine and five years of probation. He also has agreed to pay $500 in restitution.

All four Arkansas defendants initially pleaded innocent. None has gone to trial yet.

The Jan. 6 riot escalated from a “Stop the Steal” rally in which supporters of former President Donald Trump entered the Capitol and attempted to stop Congress from certifying the Electoral College vote indicating that Joe Biden had won the presidential election.

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