Supreme Court Action Leads to Early Release of Jan. 6 Prisoner Who Carried Confederate Flag

by EditorK
Jan. 6 prisoner has won early release from prison thanks to a Supreme Court decision to review the use of a felony obstruction charge against Jan. 6 detainees.

A supporter of US President Donald Trump holds a Confederate flag outside the Senate Chamber during a protest after breaching the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 6, 2021. The demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP)

Tom Ozimek
By Tom Ozimek

A Delaware man serving a three-year sentence for marching through the halls of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021, has won early release thanks to a Supreme Court decision to review the Biden administration’s novel use of an evidence-tampering law to prosecute hundreds of Jan. 6 defendants for felony obstruction of Congress.

Kevin Seefried, who was one of the first people to enter the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, was convicted in June 2022 following a bench trial before Judge Trevor McFadden of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on four misdemeanors and a single felony obstruction charge.

Judge McFadden sentenced him on Feb. 9, 2023, to 36 months in prison and one year of supervised release.

Mr. Seefried, who’s been incarcerated since May 31, 2023, appealed his conviction and sentence several times.

Following a complex legal journey tied to the fate of a separate Jan. 6 case that is now before the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge McFadden issued an order on March 26, granting Mr. Seefried’s motion for release pending resolution of an appeal—but not immediately.

“The Bureau of Prisons is ordered to release Seefried one year after the day on which he surrendered to custody,” the judge wrote in the memorandum and order, meaning that Mr. Seefried will remain behind bars until May 31.

The judge also ordered both parties to file a joint status report no later than 14 days after the Supreme Court releases its opinion in a case known as Fischer v. United States, which experts say could weaken prosecutors’ hand in hundreds of Jan. 6 prosecutions.

Supreme Court Paves Way For Early Release

In December 2023, the Supreme Court decided it would take up an appeal by Jan. 6 defendant Joseph W. Fisher of the Biden administration’s novel use of an Enron-era evidence-tampering law to prosecute hundreds of defendants for obstruction of Congress during the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol breach.

The obstruction of Congress charge—which carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison—is the most widely charged felony in Jan. 6 cases, including against Mr. Seefried.

Mr. Fischer was indicted for various alleged offenses for his role in the Jan. 6 incident, including obstruction of law enforcement during a civil disorder, violent entry, and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds—and obstruction of Congress based on 18 U.S. Code Section 1512(c)(2), or “Tampering with a witness, victim, or an informant.”

Section 1512(c)(2) is an evidence-tampering provision that’s part of the Sarbanes–Oxley Act, which experts say was conceived largely to curb wrongdoing on Wall Street. However, it is now being used by the Justice Department (DOJ) to prosecute Jan. 6 cases, sparking controversy and a legal challenge.

The Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments in the case on April 16, 2024, with several legal experts telling The Epoch Times in earlier interviews that the high court is likely to find that Section 1512(c)(2) is being improperly used against Jan. 6 defendants.

If the challenge proves successful, the Supreme Court’s decision could have far-reaching consequences, potentially overturning felony convictions for numerous Jan. 6 defendants and erasing some charges against former President Donald Trump, who has also been charged under this provision.

Since the Supreme Court agreed in mid-December to take up the Fischer appeal, a number of Jan. 6 defendants, including Mr. Seefried, have asked judges to pause their trials, sentencing proceedings, or grant release pending appeal.

‘Not Likely To Flee’

Mr. Seefried first appealed his conviction and sentence to the D.C. Circuit on Feb. 17, 2023, and later moved for release pending the resolution of that appeal.

In a legal twist, his appeal was was initially accepted but weeks later was rejected when a lower court ruled in the Fischer case that Section 1512(c)(2) could be used against Jan. 6 defendants. So Mr. Seefried was ordered to surrender to the Bureau of Prisons on May 31, 2023, which he did. He has been in prison ever since.

However, on Dec. 15, 2023, Mr. Seefried filed another motion for release from custody pending appeal in light of the Supreme Court’s decision that same month to take up Mr. Fischer’s appeal.

This led to the March 26 decision by Judge McFadden to order Mr. Seefried released after serving 12 months of his sentence, putting him on track to be freed on May 31.

“By clear and convincing evidence, Seefried is not likely to flee the jurisdiction or pose a harm to the community during his release,” the judge wrote in the order.

Prosecutors initially sought 70 months behind bars for Mr. Seefried, arguing in court documents that he “stood resolute with the rioters” as they demanded to know the whereabouts of congressional lawmakers who gathered on Capitol Hill to certify the Electoral College votes.

Kevin Seefried holds a Confederate flag outside the Senate Chamber during a protest after breaching the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, on Jan. 6, 2021. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)
Kevin Seefried holds a Confederate flag outside the Senate Chamber during a protest after breaching the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, on Jan. 6, 2021. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

They argued that he thrust the butt of his flagpole at an officer and that the Confedarate flag affixed to the flagpole was a “weapon capable of causing serious injury” because Mr. Seefried wielded it as he stood “at the front of a volatile, growing mob towards a solitary, Black police officer.”

Mr. Seefried’s attorneys wrote in filings that he has expressed “immediate and unwavering” remorse for his actions and explained that he brought the Confederate flag to protest rather than express any kind of racist sentiment.

They also argued that Mr. Seefried didn’t intend to obstruct Congress’s work but only to protest what he believed was a stolen election.

Mr. Seefried’s son, Hunter Seefried, also took part in the Capitol incident, and has been sentenced to 24 months in prison. Like his father, Hunter Seefried’s sole felony charge was obstruction of Congress and he has also asked for early release.

Tom Ozimek is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times. He has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education.

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