Law Clerk Purporting to Represent U.S. Capitol Rioters Faces Felony Charges

By Camila Laval, J.D. on September 14, 2021 | Last updated on January 07, 2022

How did the legal cases of 17 Capitol riot defendants end up in the hands of law clerk Ryan Marshall for almost two weeks, and why is Marshall facing felony charges?

Marshall is a recent law school graduate working for John Pierce, together representing several defendants implicated in the Capitol attack. Pierce's use of Twitter rivaled that of former President Donald Trump before he was banned from the platform. Marshall's legal license is now in jeopardy.

Employer Missing in Action

Pierce initially represented 17 people facing charges related to the January 6, 2021 attack. However, Pierce became unreachable on August 23—his last Tweet was on Aug. 20. Before that, he would use the platform almost every day. His Tweets ranged from supporting the Tea Party to predicting a "Marxist purge." According to filings with the D.C. Circuit, Pierce had been hospitalized with COVID-19 as of late August—but there seems to be more to the story, as his firm's phone number and website are no longer in service.

Pierce finally resurfaced on September 8 by sending a letter to several judges explaining that he had been in a California hospital for 10 days and that, based on his doctor's recommendations, he would not be returning to court until at least September 13.

Clerk Accused of Defrauding Widow

Marshall, meanwhile, faces criminal charges stemming from an alleged scheme to defraud a widow using his position as a law clerk. The charges include counts of conspiracy, theft, forgery, and tampering with public records, specifically alleging that Marshall filed false guardianship documents to help a colleague steal $86,000 from her grandmother's bank account.

On unsecured bail awaiting his trial, Marshall began appearing in Pierce's place at court hearings. Government prosecutors soon alerted the court that Marshall was not a licensed attorney and could not represent the defendants. Defendant Victoria White requested another attorney, but expressed doubts that she would get a fair trial "in this country that makes laws against God himself."

For almost two weeks, the fate of the other 16 defendants rested in the hands of a law firm that had an attorney missing in action and a law clerk under criminal investigation.

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