Capitol riot defendant Joshua Doolin fights prosecutors’ limits on defense
Prosecutors and an attorney representing a Polk City man have filed dueling court documents relating to charges that he participated in the attack on the US Capitol.
Joshua Doolin, 24, is one of six current or former Polk County residents charged in connection with the January 6, 2021, uprising. He is due to stand trial next month in Washington, D.C.
Doolin was originally charged in July 2021 with misdemeanors, including disorderly and disruptive conduct in a building or restricted land. Federal prosecutors issued a replacement indictment in July that added a felony charge of obstructing, obstructing or interfering with a law enforcement officer.
Doolin’s attorney, Allen Orenberg of Potomac, Maryland, filed a motion in late July asking U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols to dismiss the felony charge. Orenberg presented a detailed argument, suggesting that the law on which the charge rests is unconstitutionally vague and criminalizes protected speech.
In a response filed Friday, prosecutors opposed Doolin’s motion. The 16-page filing, signed by US associate attorneys Benet Kearney and Matthew Moeder, argued that several courts have written recent opinions dismissing the challenges raised in Doolin’s motion.
The prosecutors’ filing cited numerous prior federal rulings in an attempt to show that Doolin’s challenge lacked merit. Prosecutors disputed Doolin’s claim that the prosecution depended on vague or overbroad laws
Orenberg filed three motions Friday in response to prosecutors’ requests to introduce video evidence and limit defense arguments in Doolin’s trial.
Prosecutors filed a motion on July 23 to allow the use of video evidence taken from YouTube. In a response, Orenberg warned against the proliferation of “deepfakes” on the Internet, arguing that prosecutors should be required to verify the authenticity of the video.
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Orenberg also challenged a government motion to exclude certain defenses. Prosecutors asked Nichols to stop Doolin from arguing about “entrapment by estoppel,” the concept of receiving permission from a government official to do an illegal act.
The government’s motion seeks to stop Doolin from claiming that former President Donald Trump gave him and other supporters permission to enter the grounds of the US Capitol through his repeated pleas to stop. certification of the 2020 election results. Orenberg, citing US v. Chrestman, wrote that Doolin would likely have a viable defense on the grounds that he did not believe he was encroaching on the Capitol that day.
Orenberg took issue with prosecutors’ attempts to limit the defense’s other arguments. Prosecutors have asked Nichols to exclude character evidence based on Doolin’s background as an emergency medical technician and arguments that showed “good conduct” on Jan. 6 in allegedly helping protect an injured police officer.
Doolin’s attorney also argued against a motion to exclude any defense that would encourage jury nullification, an acquittal despite jurors’ belief that a defendant is actually guilty.
Finally, Orenberg responded to prosecutors’ requests to restrict details about Secret Service activities and the locations of surveillance cameras at the Capitol. The government has sought to limit defense questioning of Secret Service agents about where protected officials are taken to the Capitol in an emergency and the specific locations of cameras.
Orenberg wrote that prosecutors must be required to establish that a Secret Service-protected person — presumably former Vice President Mike Pence — was present at the Capitol, making it a restricted building. Doolin’s attorney also wrote that the judge should allow questions about the location of the cameras to assess the credibility of the testimony.
Prosecutors say Doolin traveled to Washington, D.C., with relatives and friends and moved with them near the Capitol building on the afternoon of January 6, 2021. He was charged along with his cousins, Jonathan Pollock and Olivia Pollock of Lakeland; and his friends Joseph Hutchinson III, formerly of Lakeland and now of Georgia; and Steven Perkins of Plant City.
Orenberg succeeded in asking that Doolin’s case be separated from that of the others.
Olivia Pollock, Hutchinson and Perkins were due to stand trial in January, but a judge postponed it until March. Jonathan Pollock has remained a fugitive since his indictment over a year ago.
Two other Lakeland residents, Corinne Montoni and Brian Boele, have been charged separately in connection with the attack on the US Capitol.