Capitol riot defense attorney returns to court after disappearing for long hospital stay
Nam Y. Huh/AP

Capitol riot defense attorney returns to court after disappearing for long hospital stay

John Pierce, the defense attorney who represents nearly 20 Capitol riot defendants but disappeared from court last month when he fell ill, resurfaced on Wednesday.

Pierce filed a letter to several judges explaining that he was in a Los Angeles-area hospital for 12 days. At his doctor’s recommendation, he won’t be returning to court until September 13, he said.

Pierce didn’t disclose whether his hospitalization was because of Covid-19. But an associate of his previously said he was sick with the virus, and the Justice Department had alerted judges last week he appeared to be out with Covid-19.

The DOJ had raised the issue because it said his cases were at a standstill with an unqualified associate of his stepping in.

Pierce defended the associate, Ryan Marshall, who is not admitted to practice law, in the letter.

“The morning I went into the hospital was extremely chaotic. Mr. Marshall was simply passing along his best and honest understanding of the circumstances surrounding my hospitalization,” Pierce wrote to the DC District Court on Wednesday.

Pierce, from his Los Angeles-based law firm, Pierce Bainbridge, had taken on defending some of the most high-profile alleged Capitol rioters, including some accused of conspiring with the Oath Keepers or the Proud Boys extremist groups, the son of a right-wing media founder, a church leader who brought a group to the January 6 rallies and a man accused of breaking a window, assaulting police and carrying a tomahawk in the Capitol.

Some of his Capitol riot defendants have added other attorneys since Pierce’s hospitalization.

One defendant who had hired Pierce, Deborah Lynn Lee, “expressed concerns regarding her legal representation” on September 2, according to court records, and was given a new court-appointed attorney.

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