The Justice Department asked a judge on Monday to drop a criminal case against a Capitol rioter, admitting that prosecutors failed to schedule a hearing within the legal timeframe and asking for permission to charge the Texas man again for allegedly attacking police.
In a court filing, prosecutors said that because of “unintentional” errors, they violated Lucas Denney’s speedy trial rights, leaving Denney waiting in jail since his arrest in December.
The filing is a dramatic example of the kinds of complaints rioters and defense lawyers have been making for months about stalled trials, issues reviewing the massive compilation of evidence from prosecutors, and long pretrial stints in jail.
This is the biggest investigation in the Justice Department’s history, with prosecutors juggling more than 765 criminal cases filed against supporters of former President Donald Trump who were at the Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Prosecutors wrote in the filing in Denney’s case that “there is no evidence of bad faith, a pattern of neglect, or something more than an isolated incident that resulted from a number of unfortunate factors,” attributing the oversight to a mistaken belief that they had more time to schedule a hearing.
During a hearing last week, Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui told Denney there had been “multiple screw-ups” in his case.
“I’m going to follow the law, that’s all I can do,” Faruqui said at the time. “We’ve let you down, and I don’t know what we can do about it.”
Faruqui then asked the Justice Department to explain why he shouldn’t toss the indictment because of prosecutors’ “failure to indict the case within 30 days.” Denney was indicted on March 7, several months after his arrest.
Now that the Justice Department has agreed to drop the case – even as they are seeking to refile the one count of assaulting an officer – Denney is scheduled to appear before Faruqui on Monday afternoon.