WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge in Washington reprimanded an attorney whose withdrawal from a Jan. 6 defendant’s case led to a delay in the man’s trial — potentially keeping him behind bars longer — but the judge declined to refer him for disciplinary action.
U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, suggested last month that he was considering referring attorney Joseph McBride to the court’s committee on grievances, saying it appeared the attorney misled the court when he withdrew from the case of a man charged with assaulting officers during the riot.
McBride withdrew from Christopher Quaglin’s case last month — just weeks before the man’s April trial date — because McBride said he needed to focus on another Jan. 6 case. McBride told the judge that another attorney, Jonathan Gross, would take over, saying Gross “knows Quaglin’s case well.”
Soon after, however, Gross told McFadden that he wanted to delay Quaglin’s trial because he doesn’t practice criminal law and couldn’t serve as the lead attorney at trial in just a few weeks.
McBride later told the judge the plan was for Gross to only serve as lead counsel “for a time” until they found a replacement. During a court hearing on Tuesday, McBride also told the judge that Quaglin actually fired McBride because his client perceives that the judge doesn’t like the attorney.
“I did not try to pull one over on you,” McBride told the judge. “I dotted all my i’s. I crossed all my t’s.”
In a written order filed Thursday, McFadden rejected McBride’s suggestion that he didn’t tell the judge that he was fired because he was trying to protect his client’s interest.
“More likely, he was protecting himself from the embarrassment of disclosing that he had been fired,” the judge wrote.
McBride’s omissions forced the court to delay the trial of Quaglin and his co-defendants for a second time, the judge wrote, adding that he likely wouldn’t have allowed McBride to withdraw if he had known all the facts.
McFadden admonished McBride “to scrupulously adhere to his duty of candor to this Court and others going forward,” but found that further disciplinary action is unwarranted.
McBride, who represents several other Jan. 6 defendants, said Friday that he is glad the issue is over and is looking forward to moving on with his cases.
The judge had also questioned whether McBride was being sincere when he sought an earlier delay in Quaglin’s trial because the lawyer said he had chronic Lyme disease and needed time for treatment and recovery. The judge noted last month that McBride continued after that to do media interviews and visit former President Donald Trump’s Mar-A-Lago resort.
But the judge said at the hearing Tuesday that he was satisfied McBride was telling the truth about his medical condition.
Quaglin, of North Brunswick, New Jersey, is among more than 1,000 people facing federal charge in the Jan. 6 riot. He is accused of attacking officers with a stolen riot shield and spraying them with a chemical irritant. He faces charges including assaulting an officer using a dangerous weapon.
He is now scheduled to go to trial in July.
Associated Press reporter Michael Kunzelman in Washington contributed.
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