Go-to lawyer for U.S. Capitol riot defendants re-emerges after illness By Reuters

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By Jan Wolfe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A lawyer who disappeared from public view while representing 17 defendants facing charges related to the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot reemerged on Wednesday, telling a judge he is recovering from illness and is able to represent his clients.

Attorney John Pierce appeared by teleconference in a court hearing for client Stephanie Baez, a California woman charged with unlawfully entering the Capitol. Mobs of supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the building while Congress was meeting to certify Joe Biden’s November election win.

Pierce, who reportedly was hospitalized with COVID-19, did not say whether he was infected with the coronavirus.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui had scheduled the hearing to determine whether Baez has adequate legal counsel. She said during the hearing that she wanted to keep Pierce as her lawyer.

“You, on all appearances, appear to be healthy and well and are able to make arguments,” Faruqui said. “So I have no concerns about your ability at this time to go forward.”

Pierce said he would file a document with the court providing more details about his absence. He thanked Faruqui for his patience.

Pierce did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters.

Among the Jan. 6 riot defendants Pierce represents are members of the right-wing Proud Boys and Oath Keeper groups.

Prosecutors have cited conflicting news reports about Pierce’s health problems. Some reports said Pierce had COVID-19. A reporter for National Public Radio said on Aug. 25 that a friend of Pierce’s told him Pierce did not have COVID-19 but was hospitalized due to “dehydration and exhaustion.” The same reporter on Aug. 26 said another source told him Pierce had COVID-19 but was not on a ventilator.

Pierce also has represented Rudy Giuliani, the former prosecutor and mayor of New York who worked as Trump’s personal lawyer, and Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old charged with homicide after he shot dead two people in racial justice protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in August 2020.

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