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Media groups seek to challenge ‘gag order’ in case of local businessman charged in US Capitol riot

A frame grab from a video included as part of an arrest warrant affidavit that shows Chris...
A frame grab from a video included as part of an arrest warrant affidavit that shows Chris Grider inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 with a yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” flag around his neck.(FBI)
Published: Apr. 6, 2021 at 6:58 PM CDT
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WASHINGTON (KWTX) – Several media groups including The Associated Press, ABC News, NPR and the Washington Post filed a motion Tuesday seeking to protect their right to challenge “any contemplated ‘gag order’ in the case of Central Texas vineyard owner Christopher Grider, who’s named in a seven-count indictment stemming from the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson had scheduled a hearing Tuesday in Washington, D.C. to consider a gag order.

Attorneys were ordered to be prepared to discuss whether the court should enter an order restricting “extrajudicial statements by parties, witnesses, and attorneys” concerning “a widely publicized or sensational criminal case,” where, among other things, such statements are “likely to interfere with the rights of the accused to a fair trial by an impartial jury.”

No orders were entered Tuesday, according to online court records.

On Monday prosecutors filed a motion opposing a March 22 filing by Grider’s attorney, Thomas B. Mayr of Houston, filed a motion seeking dismissal of the most serious of the charges against his client.

In the motion, Mayr argued the fourth count of the indictment, tampering with a witness, victim or informant; obstructive of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting, should be dismissed “as this allegation fails to state an offense, fails to provide Mr. Grider with adequate notice of what he is charged with, and does not ensure that a grand jury has found sufficient evidence of the necessary elements of the offense.

The flaw in Count Four of the indictment is that it fails to specify what “proceeding before Congress” Mr. Grider allegedly obstructed,” the motion says.

Prosecutors, however, say Grider’s “Own pleading concedes he is ‘well aware’ of the official proceeding he is alleged to have obstructed—namely the Joint Session of Congress convened on January 6, 2021 to certify the Electoral College vote in the 2020 Presidential Election.”

“The defendant’s motion is unsupported by the law and facts of this case, and should be denied,” prosecutors argued.

Grider, was arrested on Jan. 21, after he was named in the seven-count indictment, which also charges destruction of government property and aiding and abetting; entering and remaining in a restricted building; disorderly and disruptive conflict in a restricted building or grounds; disorderly conduct in a Capitol Building; impeding passage through the Capitol grounds or buildings, and act of physical violence in the Capitol grounds or buildings.

He was released from custody on Feb. 24.

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