Prosecutors said they believe the attorney, John Pierce, may be in the hospital and that his absence has effectively brought several cases to a standstill.
Pierce’s health creates a problem in the cases because, the Justice Department says, the defendants don’t have another attorney to adequately represent them. The situation also shines a spotlight on one of the most prominent right-wing lawyers to emerge after January 6, and as the coronavirus pandemic rages.
CNN received no response to requests for comment sent to Pierce and other people who work at his small law firm.
At a court hearing last week for one alleged Capitol rioter, Ryan Marshall, an associate of Pierce, said that he couldn’t attend because of a conflict, according to the Justice Department.
Later that day, at a meeting about one of Pierce’s Capitol riot clients, Marshall told prosecutors that Pierce was headed to the hospital after an accident, the Justice Department said in a filing.
The next day, Marshall told another judge that Pierce was hospitalized with coronavirus, on a ventilator and not responding, according to the Justice Department.
“Unfortunately, it seems that Mr. Pierce may be hospitalized and unable to communicate, and it is unclear when Mr. Pierce will recover,” prosecutors wrote to the court on Monday.
Prosecutors oppose Marshall acting as a stand-in for Pierce.
“Although Mr. Marshall has now appeared several times in Mr. Pierce’s place, he is not a licensed attorney and thus cannot appear in this Court, represent Mr. Pierce’s clients, or provide them with legal advice or services,” the Justice Department filings added. “From the government’s perspective, given Mr. Pierce’s reported illness and the fact that Mr. Marshall is not a licensed attorney, this case is effectively at a standstill.”
Marshall also faces his own criminal charges related to his time working as a courthouse clerk, further complicating his ability to work as an attorney, according to the court filings.
Marshall didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Even before the January 6 investigation, Pierce tied himself closely to far-right supporters of former President Donald Trump.