A man who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and allegedly smoked marijuana in Sen. Jeff Merkley’s (D-OR) office served as his own lawyer this Tuesday despite being advised by the judge not to do so.
According to a report from WUSA, Brandon Fellows was warned by a federal judge that representing himself could open him up to perjury or an obstruction of justice charge and he could end up going back to jail. Just hours later, the judges warning turned out to be true.
“Most people do not do this,” U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden told Fellows. “Obviously your attorney has discouraged this. I do not think this is a good idea… but I’m going to allow you to take the stand, if you wish.”
Fellows, who is from New York, has been charged with felony obstruction of an official proceeding. Last month, Fellows told the judge he wanted to represent himself because he had spent a significant amount of time studying law library of the D.C. jail where he’s being held. Despite warning him not to do so, Judge McFadden eventually agreed to his request.
On Tuesday, Fellows appeared before the judge for his first full hearing as his own counsel to argue his bond status should be reconsidered. When McFadden denied his request to call his former public defender, Cara Halverson, as a witness, Fellows instead described a conversation he said he recorded with her about a “loophole” he’d found that could get McFadden removed from the case.
Fellows said he asked Halverson if he should contact McFadden’s family as a means of disqualifying him from presiding over his case. He also said he had told Halverson – to her horror – about a previous occasion in which he’d intentionally put the phone number of another judge’s wife as his emergency contact in order to get a new judge. In that case, the judge was replaced with another.
Fellows said Halverson told him that was illegal, and if that he tried to do that with McFadden he would wind up in jail on even more serious charges.
Judge McFadden then told Fellows that he had some bad news for him.
“You’ve admitted to incredible lapses of judgment here on the stand, not least of which was seeking to disqualify a New York state judge,” McFadden said. “You’ve admitted to obstruction of justice in that case, and you’ve admitted to what was probably obstruction in this case in trying to have me disqualified, and only Ms. Halverson’s advice stopped you from doing so. You’ve engaged in a pattern of behaviors that shows contempt for the criminal justice system, and I just have no confidence that you will follow my orders if I release you.”
McFadden denied Fellows’ request to reopen his detention status and ordered him back to jail.