‘Clearly Got A Break’: Legal Experts Weigh In On Ray Epps’ Probation Sentence
Jason Cohen | Daily Caller News Foundation
January 9, 2024
- A judge’s decision to impose a one year probation sentence on Ray Epps, who was captured on video encouraging protesters to breach the Capitol on Jan. 6th, drew mixed responses from legal experts.
- Chief Judge James Boasberg of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued the sentence after a Department of Justice (DOJ) recommendation for Epps to serve six months in jail due to his involvement in the Jan. 6th, 2021 Capitol riots.
- “When you urge others to push metal framed signs into police officers and break a police line, you deserve some jail time,” Joan Meyer, partner at the law firm Thompson Hine LLP, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “The police have a hard enough job as it is and disrespecting law enforcement to protest an election result is unacceptable.”
Ray Epps’ sentence for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot drew mixed responses from legal experts, with some characterizing it as too lenient and others arguing that it aligns with common legal standards.
Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia James Boasberg handed down the sentence after Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors recommended Epps serve six months in jail for his conduct both on and ahead of the Jan. 6th, 2021 Capitol attack. Comparatively, other Jan. 6 defendants have gotten much harsher sentences than Epps, receiving years of jail time for their actions.
— James Lynch (@jameslynch32) January 9, 2024
Livestream footage from the evening of Jan. 5, 2021 revealed Epps in a crowd of Trump supporters encouraging them to go inside the Capitol on the day of Jan. 6th, leading to speculation he was a federal agent. Backlash against Epps due to his alleged agent status may have contributed to his light sentence, Joan Meyer, partner at the law firm Thompson Hine LLP, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“Mr. Epps clearly got a break from the judge on sentencing because he had been hounded with death threats by extremists who erroneously named him as an FBI plant,” Meyer told the DCNF. “Notwithstanding his hardships because of the increasing number of conspiracy theorists spinning the story that January 6 was set in motion by the FBI, that was a problem of Epps’ own making.”
Epps asserts his life has been destroyed by alleged threats and intimidation as a result of the allegations. He is on video in the front of a crowd of Trump supporters as they pushed over metal barriers, attacking police officers on Jan. 6.
“When you urge others to push metal framed signs into police officers and break a police line, you deserve some jail time,” Meyer told the DCNF. “The police have a hard enough job as it is and disrespecting law enforcement to protest an election result is unacceptable.”
Epps must also pay $500 restitution, according to the sentencing.
“Ray Epps, the only person who instructed people to enter the Capitol building and encouraged others to breach barriers, got a year of probation & $500 fine, while some folks who just walked into the building got years in prison,” former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani posted on Tuesday. “Where are Republican ‘leaders’ on this injustice?”
A federal appeals court upheld Jan. 6 defendant Russell Alford’s “disorderly or disruptive conduct” conviction and one-year sentence on Friday, even though evidence suggested he was “neither violent nor destructive” while briefly present in the Capitol, according to court documents.
Mike Davis, Founder and President of the Article III Project, still believes that Epps is a federal agent and attributes that to his lenient sentence.
“It’s amazing Ray Epps gets mere probation after there is video evidence he helped incite the January 6th riot, while Trump supporters get sent to prison for months—even years—for trespassing and taking selfies on the Senate floor,” Mike Davis, Founder and President of the Article III Project told the DCNF. “The FBI protects its own.”
Epps formerly served in the U.S. Marines Corps and owned a wedding venue, according to Politico.
Counsel for law firm Lewis Baach Kaufmann Middlemiss Marc Frazier Scholl told the DCNF that the sentencing was reasonable.
“His conviction was for a misdemeanor to which he pleaded guilty,” Scholl told the DCNF. “The sentencing guidelines authorized a sentence of no jail. I am not aware of any other criminal convictions. He served honorably in the military. A probationary sentence under those circumstances was well within the judge’s discretion.”
The DOJ did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.