« Council on Criminal Justice releases "Reflections on Long Prison Sentences: A Conversation with Crime Survivors, Formerly Incarcerated People, and Family Members" | Main | Some highlights from Ohio's sweeping new criminal justice reform bill »

January 5, 2023

Quite a remarkable account of one January 6 rioter's sentencing story

The Washington Post has this very lengthy piece telling a remarkable story about the life and history of one of the January 6 rioters and where his sentencing fit in.  The piece is fully titled "Prison or mercy? A Jan. 6 rioter weighs his sins and confronts his fate. Eight years before he stormed the Capitol, Jake Peart acted with ‘unfathomable’ grace. A judge must decide if it matters." The long piece is worth the time, and here is part of its start:

Nearly 18 months had passed since he stormed the U.S. Capitol and sought to halt the inauguration of a duly elected president. Now the time had come for the federal government to pass judgment on Jake Peart.

The sentencing hearing was taking place via video, a necessity given the sheer number of defendants — more than 950 and counting — who, like Peart, had been charged with crimes related to the riot.

Alone in his living room and free from custody as he awaited sentencing, Peart listened as a federal prosecutor summarized his offense: The 47-year-old real estate agent, husband and father of five had blown past police officers being “attacked violently,” the blaring of alarms and the smell of tear gas emanating from the seat of American democracy. Once inside the Capitol, he had banged on a broken piece of furniture, yelling, “This is our house!”...

Peart was one of thousands of American citizens who on Jan. 6, 2021, sought to overturn the 2020 election on behalf of an angry and defeated President Donald Trump. Collectively, the mob’s actions were “egregious, outrageous, dangerous,” the judge told Peart, calling them “a direct attack on the rule of law and democracy as we know it.”

But each of the insurrectionists in the Capitol that day was also an individual. And so before the judge delivered his decision, he described a letter in Peart’s case file from a woman who in 2013 was driving home drunk from a bar when she struck and killed Peart’s 28-year-old sister. “A truly remarkable letter,” the judge called it.

In it, Andrea Milholm Jung described how the “mercy and love” that Peart had shown her after the accident and while she was in prison had helped her to find redemption. “Put yourself in Mr. Peart’s shoes and ask yourself if you would do the same,” she wrote to the judge. “It is a question I ask myself every single day.”

Peart sat quietly in his leather chair, his Bible at his side, awaiting his fate. From his window he could see the soaring peaks of southern Utah’s red-rock desert mountains.

The entire hearing had lasted a little more than an hour and now boiled down to just a few difficult questions: Was Peart truly repentant? Did he grasp the severity of his crime? Did he deserve prison or mercy?

January 5, 2023 at 08:54 PM | Permalink


Sentencing is an individualized process. I would hope that the judge weighs the defendant's overall history and not just relegate his punishment to the acts that occurred on January 6th.

They were indeed tragic. They were an embarrassment to the people of our country and were incredibly reckless and dangerous---far more so than any of the street crime that the media fetishizes because those crimes went to the very core of our democracy. But we are all so much more than our worst act---including Mr.Peart. So, again, I would hope that the judge weighs the 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) factors and sentence him accordingly.

Posted by: Eric Hicks | Jan 6, 2023 8:22:06 AM

The "severity of his crime"--give me a break.

Posted by: federalist | Jan 6, 2023 10:00:08 AM

Six months of home confinement is a pretty sweet sentence. It's like an adult "Time Out"! Given the way real estate agents come and go at irregular times, I don't know how they will really be able to monitor his comings and goings from home confinement. Being a real estate agent isn't a 9 to 5 job.

Posted by: Jim Gormley | Jan 6, 2023 12:19:20 PM

I understand your point perfectly well Mr.Gormley.

The tragic reality is that to a 'certain' faction of America only 'certain' kinds of crimes matter. Apparently, endangering members of Congress , Metropolitan Police and Capitol Police isn't a big deal if it's in furtherance of agenda that has deliberately chosen to disassociate itself from reality. And yet, I wonder how 'they' would react if Mr.Peart's name was Deonte Jenkins. Would he be considered a freedom-loving patriot? Would he judged similarly? I truly doubt it.

Having said that, I trust that if a district court deemed that Mr.Peart's crime warranted 6 months of home con lineament, I can live that. Although I completely disagree with the reasons that Mr.Peart chose to make himself available at the Capitol, his life should not be defined by a single act of extreme ignorance and gullibility.

Posted by: Eric A. Hicks | Jan 6, 2023 11:09:30 PM

Wait...what? Is Federalist stating that this person's crime was not severe or egregious? (Federalist commented above: "The severity of his crime"--give me a break"). If so, one may come to believe that Federalist is a member of that wicked "soft on crime mob", heaven forbid. Say it ain't so, Fed.

Posted by: Sg | Jan 8, 2023 6:55:44 PM

This guy is truly a non-violent offender, and was basically doing the same thing as the anti-Kavanaugh lunatics. Don't recall seeing them get jail time--and do you remember all the charges being dropped against the violent Portland mob? Or the dropping of charges against the Trump inauguration rioters?

Then there's this: https://www.foxnews.com/media/antifa-activist-probation-gop-senator-office-axe

Posted by: federalist | Jan 9, 2023 10:24:30 AM


Fun facts.

Posted by: federalist | Jan 9, 2023 11:51:51 AM

What should this judge get: https://www.abajournal.com/web/article/judge-is-accused-of-falsely-claiming-assault-in-dispute-over-mackinac-island-bike-rental

Posted by: federalist | Jan 10, 2023 9:29:14 AM

This appears to be latest account of the story in the local papers: https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/oakland/2023/01/05/mackinac-island-bike-shop-judges/69782731007/

Posted by: Doug B. | Jan 10, 2023 1:13:13 PM

Doug, I'd think you'd be angry that this judge was sentencing people while this case has worked its way through the system--this imperiousness (and dishonesty) has to have carried over into the courtroom. I wonder how many defendants (or litigants) got on the wrong side of her.

Posted by: federalist | Jan 10, 2023 2:37:06 PM

I do not waste much time, federalist, being "angry" about people I do not know. But I do think it interesting you have spotlighted yet another reason that I do not share your rough confidence that 999 out of 1000 cases are generally handled fairly.

Posted by: Doug B | Jan 10, 2023 2:55:42 PM

Why in the name of everything holy would federalist bring up a black Detroit judge in the case of a January 6 rioter? And then something about Russian trolls?

Surprised he isn't spewing Antifa! Antifa! Gott im Himmel.

These people didn't merely protest, or even violently protest. They trespassed, in aggregate violently, on federal property, at the nation's Capitol, no less, while Congress was in session. They're lucky they didn't all get shot or brutally beaten.

Their reason for so doing was less protest-worthy than the well-documented police brutality toward minorities, and others for that matter.

The guy was convicted of a misdemeanor. Save your pity for felony defendants.

Posted by: Fat Bastard | Jan 17, 2023 11:12:50 PM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB