LAKE MARY, Fla. - The lawyer representing 17 people charged in the Capitol riot is now reportedly on his deathbed with COVID-19.
Two of John Pierce's clients reside in Central Florida. Father and son Kevin and Nathanial Tuck – both former police officers in Central Florida – are facing federal charges in the Jan. 6 incident.
Now, a notice from federal prosecutors said the Tucks over a dozen other defendants charged in connection with the Capitol riot "appear to be effective without counsel."
There's some confusion about where pierce could be.
In a court document, prosecutors said they were told, "Mr. Pierce is reportedly ill with COVID-19, on a ventilator, and unresponsive." However, further down that same document, the court was told Mr. Pierce’s absence was due to a conflict. In another conflicting report, the Assistant U.S. Attorney was told Pierce had been in an accident and was on his way to the hospital.
Pierce who is usually very active on Twitter has not posted since August 20. The U.S. Attorney’s Office said its last contact with Pierce was on August 23.
Central Florida attorney and former prosecutor Bob Fisher – who is not affiliated with these Capitol riot cases – said in his 40 years practicing law he’s never seen anything like this.
"I would be concerned if I were one of the 17 people charged and had just learned my lawyer is unavailable and no one can tell me why," Fisher said.
To make matter worse, the filing states that, for roughly a week. someone has been filling in for Pierce who is not a licensed attorney.
Fisher said that is in violation of the law.
"Which is going to cause that person problems but is unfair to the people on whose behalf he is supposed to be appearing," Fisher added.
So what happens from here?
Fisher said those 17 clients may need to get new attorneys. Until then, the case is at a standstill.
He said most likely, the judge will ask the 17 defendants to appear at a hearing.
"Mr. Pierce’s office will be given notice to appear," Fisher explained.
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