WASHINGTON (KNWA/KFTA) — On October 13, the U.S. government filed a pair of replies in federal court regarding motions made by a Gravette man accused of multiple crimes for his role in the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol.
Richard Barnett, 61, is facing a host of charges and his trial is set to begin on December 12. The first prosecution response concerned limiting the scope of testimony by Secret Service agents during the trial.
The government previously filed a motion to preclude the defense from cross-examining those agents on specific topics due to security concerns. The motion cited two specific issues it feels shouldn’t be open to discussing: Secret Service protocols related to the locations where protected individuals are taken at the Capitol or other government buildings when emergencies arise, and details about Secret Service protective details, including the number and type of agents assigned to protect individuals.
“The Secret Service’s general protocols about relocation for safety should be excluded as irrelevant,” the response stated. “The two above-enumerated areas implicate sensitive matters of national security.”
The response continued by stating that the defendant provides “no articulable basis” for the belief that the Secret Service agents have knowledge “relevant to any fact at issue” in Barnett’s case. It also cited prior case law that ruled that allowing such testimony would be “inappropriate and immaterial.”
It added that allowing Secret Service members to testify on those subjects would not be “the proper remedy” to defense complaints about media coverage of the case.
The second response addressed Barnett’s opposition to a prosecution motion seeking to exclude three categories of evidence from potential defense testimony:
- evidence or argument related to any potential penalty
- evidence or argument intended to elicit jury nullification
- defense evidence not produced in reciprocal discovery and expert witnesses and affirmative defenses not identified pursuant to the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure
“The defendant fails to explain how potential penalty evidence would be appropriate in this
manner,” the government stated. “Indeed, the defendant’s position directly contradicts the well-settled principle that juries ‘are not to consider the question of punishment in arriving at [their] verdict.'”
Next, the response addressed the defense’s desire to introduce “propensity evidence” concerning Barnett’s “family, work life, religious beliefs, and hardships.”
“He fails to explain how it relates to his state of mind, motive, or any other permissible issue in this case,” the filing stated. “Any such evidence is intended to either support an improper jury nullification argument or to impermissibly play to the jury’s sympathies, and must, therefore, be excluded.”
The response then addressed a defense contention that “excluding evidence designed to inspire sympathy creates an ‘unworkable standard,'” stating that this is “without merit.”
“It is routinely the role of the trial court to exercise its discretion in excluding material intended to elicit sympathy from the jury,” the prosecution stated. “This is true for both defendants and victims.”
The final section clarified the government’s request for evidence generated during discovery, and it said that “the government only seeks that to which it is readily entitled under the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, including items within the defendant’s possession, custody or control that the defendant intends to use in his case-in-chief.”
“The defendant still—approaching five months since the government filed its omnibus motion and just two months ahead of trial—has yet to provide any such material,” it said.
Barnett is charged with: Obstruction of an Official Proceeding; Aiding and Abetting; Entering and Remaining in a Restricted Building or Grounds with a Deadly or Dangerous Weapon; Disorderly and Disruptive Conduct in a Restricted Building or Grounds with a Deadly or Dangerous Weapon; Entering and Remaining in Certain Rooms in the Capitol Building; Disorderly Conduct in a Capitol Building; Parading, Demonstrating, or Picketing in a Capitol Building; Theft of Government Property.
He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.