A Natick woman (who may have moved to Saugus) will continue to have to face charges for her participation in the failed 1/6 putsch after a federal judge in Washington, DC rejected her motion to dismiss her charges for "selective prosecution" because federal prosecutors didn't bring similar charges against people arrested at past "politically liberal" protests at the Capitol.
Sue Ianni, who helped organize bus trips to Washington, and who was spotted on Capitol surveillance video milling around inside the Capitol itself during the coup attempt, is charged with three federal misdemeanor counts: Entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds and disorderly conduct in a capitol building.
US District Court Judge Carl Nichols summarized her request for dismissal:
Ianni points to a number of "politically liberal" protests at the Capitol in which demonstrators were charged with non-federal violations and were typically given an opportunity to pay a small fine to resolve their matters immediately without a finding of guilt. ... 181 people were arrested in relation to a disability rights protest in a Senate Finance Committee room. In 2018, 575 people were arrested in the atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building for conduct relating to a protest of immigration policies. Also in 2018, over 200 people were arrested in the Capitol building protesting the hearings for the confirmation of Justice Kavanaugh—and some broke through and climbed over police barricades meant to close off certain parts of the Capitol. In 2019, a number of climate change protesters were repeatedly arrested (sometimes weekly) for demonstrations at the Capitol. And in July 2021, nine voting rights protestors, including a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, were arrested for demonstrating in the Hart Senate Office Building even though it was closed to the public.
Prosecutors, Nichols wrote, responded:
The government argues that those prior protestors had lawfully entered the U.S. Capitol or, as to those who broke through certain police barriers, they demonstrated outside the Capitol buildings. The government contends that Ianni’s examples "did not target a proceeding prescribed by the Constitution and established to ensure a peaceful transition of power."
Nichols - - who was appointed by Donald Trump and had clerked for Clarence Thomas - - agreed with the government that Ianni was part of a fundamentally different sort of action than protests against Trump immigration policies or Brett Kavanaugh:
The particular combination of circumstances at issue here—including entering the Capitol while it was closed to the public; being among a very large demonstration; being among a crowd in which others were aggressive or violent (some shockingly so); and targeting a highly sensitive Congressional proceeding—are too different from any example or combination of examples that Ianni has pointed to for a claim of selective prosecution. To be sure, there are aspects of Ianni's conduct that may be similar to, or perhaps less problematic than, the conduct in certain of the examples to which Ianni points. ... But when put in context of the events of January 6, 2021, her conduct is not sufficiently similar to the examples to which she points for her to meet the rigorous standard for proving discriminatory effect. See Irish People, 684 F.2d at 946 ("Discrimination cannot exist in a vacuum; it can only be found in the unequal treatment of people in similar circumstances."); see also United States v. Judd, No. 1:21-cr-40 (D.D.C. Dec. 28, 2021) (ECF No. 203), slip op. 11 (concluding that because of the "uniqueness" of the events of January 6, courts may find it difficult to fault the government's prosecution).