Judge Admits ‘Mistake’ in Order on Jan. 6 Convict’s Release

Judge Admits ‘Mistake’ in Order on Jan. 6 Convict’s Release
Kevin Seefried holds a Confederate flag outside the Senate Chamber during a protest after breaching the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, on Jan. 6, 2021. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

A federal judge on May 10 said he made a mistake in a prior order, which ordered the release of a man convicted in relation to the Jan. 6, 2021, breach of the U.S. Capitol.

U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden in March ordered the Bureau of Prisons to release Kevin Seefried “one year after the day on which he surrendered to custody.”

The order came as Judge McFadden granted a request from Mr. Seefried to leave prison pending resolution of his appeal because the only felony for which he was convicted, obstruction of an official proceeding, may be thrown out for many Jan. 6 convicts and defendants by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The day of release was predicated on Mr. Seefried serving time that is equal to what would be his reduced sentence if justices toss the conviction.

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Lawyers for Mr. Seefried, though, wondered whether the judge forgot to take into account how inmates can earn reduced sentences for good behavior and portions of the First Step Act, which also gives inmates opportunities to reduce their sentences. Taking those factors into account, Mr. Seefried would actually be serving too much time if the release order were not altered, they said.

The lawyers said Judge McFadden should issue a new order stating that Mr. Seefried shall be released “one year after the day on which he surrendered to the custody of the attorney general, minus any Bureau of Prisons good time and earned time credit he has earned.

Prosecutors opposed the request, noting that “good time credit” is only available to inmates serving a prison term of more than one year and that Mr. Seefried’s reduced sentence would be one year.

As for the First Step Act (FSA), credits earned under parts of the law only apply once they equal the remainder of the prison term. While Mr. Seefried has accumulated 105 days of reduction under the act, he is unable to use the reduction because his sentence has not actually been reduced to one year because the Supreme Court’s decision on the obstruction charge is pending, prosecutors said.

Judge McFadden, appointed by former President Donald Trump, said Friday that his order “caused unnecessary confusion” and that he should have not specified on which day Mr. Seefried was to be released.

“In the court’s prior order, the court stated that Seefried’s ‘likely reduced sentence’ on each of his two misdemeanor convictions would ‘remain one year … all to run concurrently,'” he wrote. “That was the bottom line of the court’s … analysis, and the court should have stopped there. To the extent that the Court went further and ordered the Bureau of Prisons to ‘release Seefried one year after the day on which he surrendered to custody,’ that further statement was a mistake.”

Judges aren’t required to specify release dates in response to motions for release pending appeal and Judge McFadden said he should have avoided listing one.

“All the court was doing in its order was projecting the likely length of Seefried’s reduced sentence. At that point, it falls to the Bureau of Prisons to calculate whether he is eligible for good time or First Step Act credits and what the result of applying those credits might be,” the judge said.

“To be clear, the parties appear to agree that the court’s order does not displace the ordinary operation of such credits. They just disagree about what the impact of such credits would be. The court leaves that question to the expert judgment of the Bureau of Prisons in the first instance. The bureau should take notice of Seefried’s likely reduced sentence of one year and determine what, if any, effect the good time and First Step Act credits have on his release date.”

A lawyer for Mr. Seefried did not respond to a request for comment.

The Bureau of Prisons previously told Mr. Seefried’s representatives that they needed to comply with Judge McFadden’s ordered release date.

“We did have this reviewed by our legal department and the conclusion was made that FSA credits should not play a role in his release,” a bureau official said in an April 4 email.

Mr. Seefried, a Delaware resident, was convicted in 2022 by Judge McFadden of felony obstruction as well as four misdemeanors: entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a Capitol Building, disorderly conduct in a Capitol building, and parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building.

Defendants can choose their cases to be decided by juries or, in what’s known as a bench trial, by a judge.

Judge McFadden in 2023 sentenced Mr. Seefried to three years in prison for the felony. The sentence included prison time for the misdemeanors, but Judge McFadden ordered the sentences to run concurrently.

Mr. Seefried was previously released pending appeal as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit weighed whether to toss obstruction convictions. But he was placed back behind bars after the appeals court upheld the novel use of the obstruction statute.

A decision by the Supreme Court in the matter is expected in the coming months.

From The Epoch Times

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