Welcome to Reuters Legal News beta. Please enjoy and provide us with your feedback as we continue to improve the Reuters Legal News experience.

Skip to main content
Skip to floating mini video

Judge in Trump's Capitol riot case has doled out stiff penalties to Jan. 6 defendants

3 minute read

A mob of supporters of then-U.S. President Donald Trump climb through a window they broke as they storm the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, U.S., January 6, 2021. REUTERS/Leah Millis

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com
  • Judge Tanya Chutkan has imposed sentences greater than what U.S. prosecutors suggested
  • Judge is a former Boies Schiller Flexner partner and D.C. public defender

The company and law firm names shown above are generated automatically based on the text of the article. We are improving this feature as we continue to test and develop in beta. We welcome feedback, which you can provide using the feedback tab on the right of the page.

(Reuters) - A federal trial judge who has expressly rejected lenient sentencing recommendations in U.S. Capitol riot cases was assigned on Tuesday to hear the lawsuit former President Donald Trump filed to block the release of records to the U.S. congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan was designated by random assignment to hear the lawsuit Trump filed the day earlier in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. His complaint against the U.S. House of Representatives' Jan. 6 investigative committee and other defendants is expected to test the boundaries of executive privilege.

Chutkan's jail sentences in recent misdemeanor Capitol riot cases ranged from 14 to 45 days, and the penalties were harsher than what U.S. prosecutors had recommended. She is among judges in D.C. federal court who have spurned some suggestions from prosecutors for lesser punishment.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

"There have to be consequences for participating in an attempted violent overthrow of the government, beyond sitting at home," Chutkan said recently in court.

A message to Chutkan's chambers seeking comment was referred to a court representative, who did not immediately return a request for comment.

Trump's lawyer in the new lawsuit, Jesse Binnall of the Alexandria, Virginia-based Binnall Law Group, did not immediately return a message seeking comment. The lead U.S. House lawyer, Douglas Letter, also did not immediately return a message.

Binnall was on the defense team for former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, who had twice pleaded guilty in D.C. federal court to a false statement charge amid the FBI investigation of Russia's interference in the 2016 election. Trump pardoned Flynn in November 2020.

Chutkan, nominated by then-President Barack Obama, has served as a D.C. federal judge since 2013. She joined the bench from Boies Schiller Flexner, where she was a partner and defended banking clients in class actions and also advocated for plaintiffs in antitrust class actions. She first joined the firm in 2002.

Chutkan sentenced Russian agent Maria Butina to 18 months in prison in April 2019 for conspiring to infiltrate the National Rifle Association. In that case, Chutkan imposed the sentence the government had requested.

On Thursday, Chutkan is scheduled to sentence another Capitol riot defendant, Troy Smocks, who pleaded guilty last month to making a Jan. 6-related threat on social media to harm law enforcement.

A lawyer for Smocks has asked for a sentence of about nine months, as time already served incarcerated.

The case is Donald Trump v. Bennie Thompson, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, No. 1:21-cv-02769.

For plaintiff: Jesse Binnall of Binnall Law Group

For defendant: No appearance yet

Read more:

Trump sues U.S. House committee investigating Jan. 6 attack on Capitol

'There have to be consequences:' Judge ups sentences for Capitol rioters

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

More from Reuters