A federal judge has rejected a former Natick woman’s claim that she is being punished for her conservative political views by federal prosecutors, who say she illegally entered the US Capitol during the Jan 6. 2021, attack involving supporters of President Donald Trump.
In his ruling, US District Court Judge Carl J. Nichols summarized Suzanne Ianni’s assertion that she was being selectively prosecuted because she backs Trump and has conservative political views. In her defense, Ianni’s lawyer identified hundreds of what he called “politically liberal” protesters who were arrested at the Capitol during the past several years but never charged in federal court, the judge wrote.
However, Nichols wrote that none of those incidents took place while the Capitol was closed to the public or while Congress was meeting to assure the peaceful transition of power after the 2020 national election, won by President Biden.
“To be sure, there are aspects of Ianni’s conduct that may be similar to, or perhaps less problematic than, the conduct in certain of the examples to which Ianni points,’’ Nichols wrote. “But when put in context of the events of January 6, 2021, her conduct is not sufficiently similar to the examples to which she points for her to meet the rigorous standard for proving discriminatory effect.”
The judge, who was nominated by Trump and is a former law clerk for US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, expanded on his reasoning in another part of the decision.
“The particular combination of circumstances at issue here — including entering the Capitol while it was closed to the public; being among a very large demonstration; being among a crowd in which others were aggressive or violent (some shockingly so); and targeting a highly sensitive Congressional proceeding — are too different from any example or combination of examples that Ianni has pointed to for a claim of selective prosecution,’' Nichols wrote.
Ianni’s lawyer, Henry Fasoldt, said Wednesday they will not appeal the ruling and Ianni will decide whether to stand trial before her next court date on May 27.
“We respect the rule of law and respect Judge Nichols’ findings, and we’ll let it be,” he said. “We’ll know more in maybe a month and a half whether we’re going to trial or whether she’s going to take a plea,”
Ianni, a former Natick town meeting member, has been active with the Super Happy Fun America group. The group chartered 11 buses to bring Trump supporters to the “Stop The Steal” rally in Washington that took place before hundreds stormed the Capitol, an attack that led to the deaths of five people and the prosecution of more than 725 defendants.
Ianni is not accused of committing any violence inside the Capitol. She is charged with three misdemeanors: entering or remaining in restricted building or grounds, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, and disorderly conduct in a Capitol building.
A second member of Super Happy Fun America, Mark G. Sahady, is also facing criminal charges after he allegedly entered the Capitol. He has pleaded not guilty and the case is pending before Nichols, according to court records.