The Delaware man accused of parading a Confederate flag throughout the U.S. Capitol building during the January 6 attack is set to stand trial next month with his son. They will be tried not before a jury of 12 of their peers, but before a judge who will be the sole arbiter of their fate, court records indicate.
Kevin Seefried and his son, Hunter – who pleaded not guilty to multiple counts, including obstruction of an official proceeding and disorderly conduct – will appear before Judge Trevor McFadden on June 13, 2022, in a bench trial. McFadden is expected to hear evidence and testimony from both sides, ask questions of any witnesses called and deliver a final verdict on each count.
Of the six Jan. 6 cases to be tried and completed so far, only two were bench trials. McFadden was the judge randomly assigned to both of those cases and unlike the juries in the remaining four, the judge acquitted one defendant on all counts and another defendant on one of the two counts against him.
Juries have convicted all four defendants who faced jury trials, on all counts, each in a matter of hours.
“The extraordinary circumstance of so many criminal defendants in cases related by the same background facts and largely the same legal arguments before a single judge gives these defendants a huge advantage,” George Washington University law professor Catherine Ross said, adding that these defendants likely already know and take into account how a judge has previously ruled in relatively similar cases.
Defendants cannot select the judges that preside over their cases in any situation. Judges are randomly assigned, but with more than 800 Jan. 6 cases so far charged in the D.C. federal courthouse, such overlap is unavoidable.
Defendant Couy Griffin – a New Mexico county commissioner who was acquitted in March on one of two charges by Judge McFadden – called the ruling a “partial victory” while speaking with supporters in the courtroom shortly after the verdict.
McFadden ruled from the bench that Griffin was guilty of the charge that amounted to knowingly and illegally entering Capitol grounds in the vicinity of then-Vice President Mike Pence, who was in the Capitol building to certify the counting of the Electoral College votes and remained in the Capitol complex during the riot. But McFadden found Griffin not guilty on the second charge of disorderly conduct, saying Griffin’s attempt to get the crowd to pray with him “arguably” was not disorderly, but an attempt to calm the crowd down.
When asked by CBS News if he’d recommend others seek a “bench trial”, rather than a jury trial, Griffin said, “If I was anywhere besides Washington, D.C., I’d say go with the jury trial. You can’t get a fair jury trial in Washington, D.C., if you’re someone like me. I’m a strong conservative.”
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