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Over 300 Jan. 6 riot convictions now in peril after Supreme Court rules on obstruction charge

More than 330 Jan. 6 rioters could have their convictions and sentences tossed thanks to a ruling from the Supreme Court on Friday.

In a 6-3 decision, the court ruled that an “obstruction of an official proceeding” charge brought against Joseph Fischer, a former police officer and rioter, was too broadly used and the government will need to prove that a defendant “impaired the availability or integrity for use in an official proceeding of records, documents, objects, or other things used in an official proceeding, or attempted to do so.”

Chief Justice John Roberts, who delivered the majority opinion, used the example of eating lunch at the zoo to explain the ruling.

“To see why, consider a straightforward example. A zoo might post a sign that reads, ‘do not pet, feed, yell or throw objects at the animals, or otherwise disturb them.’ If a visitor eats lunch in front of a hungry gorilla, or talks to a friend near its enclosure, has he obeyed the regulation?

“Surely yes. Although the smell of human food or the sound of voices might well disturb gorillas, the specific examples of impermissible conduct all involve direct interaction with and harassment of the zoo animals. Merely eating or talking is so unlike the examples that the zoo provided that it would be implausible to assume those activities were prohibited, even if literally covered by the language,” he wrote.

The ruling could have massive impacts on Jan. 6 defendants such as Fischer, who were convicted of storming the Capitol and destroying property to try and disrupt the certification of the 2020 election.

However, the ruling appears to have little impact on the pending charges against former President Donald Trump, who is alsoaccused of obstruction in some of his

Read more on independent.co.uk