Federal judge refuses to intervene in riot case against partisan Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson
A federal judge on Friday dismissed the lawsuit filed by Patriot Prayer Leader Joey Gibson and a supporter who challenged Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt’s prosecution of riot charges against them.
United States District Judge Karin J. Immergut has ruled that Gibson and Russell Schultz can assert their “vindictive and selection lawsuits” claims in state court.
“It is inappropriate for this Court to rule on the weight of evidence and plaintiffs will be given the opportunity to argue whether there is sufficient evidence to support the riot charge in their state court proceedings,” wrote the judge in his 25-page article. decision.
Gibson and Schultz were among six men accused of inciting a riot on May 1, 2019 between the right-wing Patriot Prayer and the left-wing antifa outside the now closed Cider Riot pub in northeast Portland. Two of the six pleaded guilty and were sentenced in January. Gibson and Schultz and two others have pleaded not guilty.
Lawyers for Gibson and Schultz argued that Schmidt’s decision not to dismiss riot charges against them while dismissing riot cases against others in the past year was “politically motivated.”
Schmidt announced in August that he would not prosecute those involved in the “ongoing protests” in Portland on a riot charge without an allegation of property damage or the use of force. He was not a prosecutor at the time of the Cider Riot case.
Although Gibson and Schultz “make a compelling case” that their conduct did not result in “tumultuous and violent” conduct as defined by the state riot charge, they have not shown that the charges are “unwarranted” to warrant intervention by a federal court, Immergut found.
Additionally, there is no concrete evidence of any reason to be suspicious of state court proceedings or that Schmidt is suing people based on their views, the judge wrote.
Still, Immergut cited flaws in the argument provided by Schmidt’s attorney, Deputy Attorney General Jill Schneider, to defend Schmidt’s protest prosecution policy.
Immergut wrote that Schmidt’s attorney “completely ignores” Gibson and Schultz’s argument “that the fact that no Antifa member was charged in the Cider Riot incident on May 1, 2109 shows animosity towards the point of view of the complainants “.
The judge also said she heard from Schmidt’s lawyer for the first time raise “resource considerations” to justify Schmidt’s August policy of protest lawsuits “without offering any evidence to support his position.”
“To the extent that the policy was indeed an effort to alleviate the resource constraints caused by hundreds of arrests during the summer protests, the policy is poorly drafted and should have been made clear,” Immergut wrote.
“Despite the deficient arguments of defense counsel, this Court finds that the record does not establish that the proceedings against the plaintiffs were brought in bad faith, so this Court should intervene in the legal proceedings of the State, “Immergut wrote.
The refusal to retroactively apply the policy of prosecuting Schmidt’s protests to Gibson and Schultz is also not sufficient to argue that the lawsuits are being conducted in bad faith, the judge concluded.
Immergut noted that she had no evidence that Schmidt’s policy was applied retroactively to any other cases released prior to social justice protests sparked by the May 25 death of George Floyd, a black man killed by Minneapolis police. .
While attorneys for Gibson and Schultz have argued their clients did not engage in criminal behavior on May 1, 2019, but others did and were not arrested, the judge pointed to evidence video that Gibson encouraged others to fight.
“While the videos show Gibson discouraging the use of weapons at various times and generally avoiding physical altercations, they also show him appearing to encourage one-on-one fights between members of Patriot Prayer and Antifa,” wrote the judge.
“When Gibson notices a fight between two men, he immediately runs and asks the crowd to put the guns away and ‘let them fight’ because it’s a ‘mutual fight,’ the judge said.” Gibson helps out. form a circle around the fight as he continues to recount it, saying repeatedly: “[t]that’s how it’s supposed to be, two men fighting.
Gibson and Schultz’s state trial is scheduled for March 8.
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