The Justice Department responded today to Richard “Bigo” Barnett of Gravette for more leeway in his home confinement while he awaits trial on felony charges for joining the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and becoming a media star for boasting of his invasion of Nancy Pelosi’s office.
In a word: No. And a request: Make conditions stricter.
The six-page response is rich with detail about Barnett’s big talking (including an interview with Russian TV) and liberties in his home detention that seem to have resulted in police calls. It notes his vow in an interview to continue to exercise First Amendment rights. The response comments:
But the defendant’s conduct—bringing a stun gun into the U.S. Capitol during a riot, stealing congressional property, obstructing Congress, threatening congresspersons, antagonizing law enforcement officers, and touting violence—is not protected First Amendment activity
Barnett is limited to traveling 50 miles for business. He wants a 250-mile limit to attend a car “swap meet” and to stay overnight.
During his release, the defendant has pushed the envelope by asking Pretrial Services, rather than the Court, to approve travel more than fifty miles away from his residence—despite the Court’s clear condition that such travel requires prior Court approval. Earlier in his supervision, due to an error by the PSO, the defendant received approval to travel to a car show taking place more than fifty miles away. Before filing the instant request with the Court, the defendant again asked Pretrial Services for approval rather than the Court. Indeed, it appears the only reason the defendant filed this motion at all is because his PSO would not accommodate another improper request.
The defendant has not demonstrated a need for the relaxed conditions he requests. He lives within fifty miles of four of the ten most populous cities in Arkansas, not to mention the states of Missouri and Oklahoma. He appears to have multiple existing or potential income streams, all of which can be primarily maintained at his own property or on the internet. Furthermore, further loosening his restrictions in a way that allows him to be away from his residence for longer and in more remote areas would unduly increase the danger he poses to the community. An overnight stay presents even greater logistical concerns. Pretrial Services has noted that the GPS monitor retains a charge for only a maximum of 48 hours, and often less time than that. Accordingly, she recommends the monitors be charged every 24 hours. While it is possible to work around the monitor’s charging constraints, it would be labor and resource intensive. In sum, the defendant’s compliance has been questionable, and the defendant’s chosen employment activities make verification—in other words, ensuring the safety of the community— difficult. Ultimately, this reality does indeed suggest a different set of conditions, but not the one the defendant proposes. Rather, the government would propose the following in addition to the requirements already enumerated, including the requirement that he receive Court permission for travel more than fifty miles outside of his home, to include: 1. Restriction to remain inside of his residence (not elsewhere on his property) except during business hours, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and 2. Requirement to report all funds received from any source, including any spousal income, to Pretrial Services. These conditions will enable Pretrial Services and the Court to better assess his compliance as well as any future requests for employment-related travel.
A Washington judge may decide today on Barnett’s request for more lenient treatment. The government has already indicated it opposes reducing his felony charges to misdemeanors.
PS: The government filing today mentions Barnett’s offer to sell autographed photos of himself in Pelosi’s office. It suggests this might have copyright implications.