U.S. Government still reviewing unprecedented amount of evidence tied to January 6 Capitol siege
ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - The U.S. government has laid out the efforts it says staff have been making to process the hundreds of thousands of pieces of evidence connected with the January 6 Capitol Siege cases.
The United States’ memorandum was added this week to the docket for the case against Thomas Robertson and Jacob Fracker, but the content of the memorandum relates to the cases against many defendants charged in connection with the event.
The 20 page document explains the efforts the government and law enforcement agencies have made to process documents, officer radio transmission, surveillance video, body camera video, tips, interviews, searches of digital devices and materials related to the investigations of alleged officer misconduct.
According to prosecutors, they have combed through 714 hours of body worn camera footage recorded from 675 Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officers alone. They also have 102 hours of body worn camera footage and pole camera footage from the Arlington County Police Department.
The 24,000 files of closed circuit video, body worn camera footage and United States Secret Service (USSS) footage amounts to nine terabytes of data. The government said it would take about 102 days to watch it all. More than 18,484 anonymous tips have been received by the MPD.
The government is working to make the content available for prosecutors, defendants and defense council through an online, secure portal called the Relativity workspace at evidence.com.
The government explained in the memorandum that it’s trying to improve user experience by providing spreadsheets and mapping tools for things like radio GPS, camera footage, maps of the Capitol and a timeline of events.
As of February 2, a separate interface on Relativity was made available to allow incarcerated defendants awaiting trial to review video footage.
In order to access the workspace, defendants must sign a protective order affirming they understand that they can only access the content with supervision by defense council members or investigators.
This separate workspace is meant to prevent defendants from accessing what the government considers to be sensitive material like the allegations regarding officer use of force or complicity with rioters (confirmed and unconfirmed) as well as CCV camera maps of the Capitol and grounds. Soon, the government also said the workspace accessibility expansion will protect things like data from searches of digital devices and social media accounts, interviews, background information, and data related to the finances, communication and travel records of people not charged in connection with the incident.
The government continues to add data to the Relativity workspace. It says they will continue to notify the defense of materials that have been added so that they and their clients can review it.
In the near future, the government said the remainder of evidence from the United States Capitol Police (USCP) and MPD will be added. Of the 56,000 records which have been reviewed, 22,00 have come from the MPD alone. Of those, 18,000 have been determined to be available for discovery and are undergoing redaction. Another 1,000 are under review.
About 34,000 records came from the USCP, many of which the government said have been removed because they were duplicates. About 4,200 records are being redacted for use and another 3,000 are under review.
About 900 records include FBI interviews of law enforcement officers, which are currently being redacted. There are also FBI search warrants of cell phone tower data, Google subscriber information and subscriber information from Facebook and Instagram.
Some of the records that will be available in the workspace also include archived posts from Parler regarding January 6 as well as videos scraped from the social media network.
The government’s team overseeing the review of records is also working to review an additional 26,000 documents from the FBI.
The government said it’s still working to make available an “ediscovery room” in the Correctional Treatment Facility where Capitol Siege defendants can access materials provided to them by counsel form the defense team Relativity workspace.
“The government and FPD’s (Federal Public Defenders’) vendors have worked together to establish a plan for production options and formats for detained defendants,” according to the document.
The document goes on to say that 15 laptops have been ordered to the proposed program. Part of the reason for the hold up, according to the government, is the fact that this ediscovery room will need to be staffed.
“Finding staff with requisite computer skills who are willing to work full-time in a correctional setting is challenging, and that challenge is further exacerbated by the existence of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the document reads.
In the meantime, the Department of Corrections has given inmates about 20 computers compatible with its e-discovery program and inmates can keep them for up to two weeks at a time when they are eligible.
But prosecutors say challenges remain as they try to work through the data. Transferring about 400,000 documents from the FBI initially didn’t go as planned, delaying the timeline they set out for themselves last year. Additionally, they claim COVID-19 and snowstorms have further delayed work.
Deloitte is also working to process 380,000 documents and the upload of that information could take up to 10 days. Then the data will need to be analyzed and customized in the workspace which could take several weeks.
The government said that on January 21 of this year, the FPD circulated instructions for defense attorneys on how to access the Relativity workspace. Once attorneys submit a Relativity License Request Form, they made need to wait about four to five business days to gain access.
The government reiterated in is document several times the extensive nature of the work, writing, “The events of January 6 were historic, not only because they represented the first time that American citizens had stormed the Capitol, but because the amount of information and evidence involved is unprecedented.”
But the government maintains that its plan to provide the defense with data pertinent to its cases continues to be reasonable and appropriate and that the execution of that plan is being done promptly and in good faith.
Still, trials are pending for many defendants, Indeed both Thomas Robertson and Jacob Fracker are set to go to trial in April. The government said in the memorandum that it has developed a short-term discovery plan “that will enable certain trials to proceed before our discovery plan is substantially executed.”
The government acknowledges that it is not the plan it recommends, “nor one that would be workable in multiple cases or complex cases.”
It intends to write lists of all of its holdings which defense teams can review and from which they may request specific items believed to be relevant to their cases.
Additionally, prosecutors will ensure “that a facial recognition search has been performed within a repository of images and video that the FBI continually populates, so that all identifiable images of the defendant within that repository at a time close to trial are produced.”
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