A federal judge has dismissed a felony obstruction charge alleging a participant in Jan. 6 Capitol riot attempted to prevent the certification of the 2020 Electoral College results.
The ruling Tuesday by U.S. District Judge for the D.C. Circuit Carl J. Nichols, a Trump administration appointee, marks the second time in eight days the judge has issued such a dismissal.
Nichols ruled in the case against Joseph Fischer, who works for the North Cornwall Township Police Department in Pennsylvania, that the obstruction charge does not stand.
"Nothing in Count Three (or the superseding indictment generally) alleges, let alone implies, that Fischer took some action with respect to a document, record, or other object in order to corruptly obstruct, impede or influence Congress’s certification of the electoral vote," the judge wrote in a 10-page ruling. "The Court will therefore grant Fischer’s motion to dismiss Count Three."
The subsection of the U.S. Code under which Fischer was initially charged is designed to prevent tampering or destruction of documents and records, not an alleged attempt at derailing the certification of the Electoral College.
Nichols on March 7 threw out the same charge in the case against Garrett Miller, of Texas, who faces 11 additional charges related to January 6.
The judge is also considering Fischer's motion to dismiss Counts 4 and 5, which pertain to his alleged presence on "restricted building or grounds."
Prosecutors have told the judge that they are willing to amend the indictment against Fischer to skirt his attorneys' objections to the two other charges, which have to do with the presence of then-Vice President Mike Pence at the Capitol.
The judge has given Justice Department lawyers 14 days to either amend the indictment, or explain why they refuse to do so.