Judge denies access to rioter’s community service records
WASHINGTON – A federal judge denied a news media coalition’s demand for public access to court-ordered community service records by one of the rioters who stormed the United States Capitol last year.
U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth ruled Wednesday that Anna Morgan-Lloyd’s community service records are not “court records” subject to public disclosure because they played no role in the judge’s decision-making process.
Several news outlets, including the Associated Press, have jointly requested access to Morgan-Lloyd’s community service archives, the first Capitol rioter to be sentenced. In June, Lamberth sentenced the Indiana woman to three years probation and ordered her to perform 120 hours of community service.
Dozens of Capitol rioters were ordered to perform community service as a condition of probation. Probation officers typically monitor an accused’s community service but do not publicly report on their compliance.
Media lawyers argued that Morgan-Lloyd’s community service records would bring to light a “vital but hidden aspect of the legal process” and are “directly linked to an unprecedented episode in American history.”
During her sentencing hearing, Morgan-Lloyd told Lamberth she was ashamed of the “savage display of violence” on Capitol Hill. A day later, however, she told Fox News host Laura Ingraham that people were “very polite” during the riot, that she had seen “relaxed” police officers chatting with rioters and that ‘She didn’t believe the January 6 attack was an insurrection. .
Lawyers for news organizations have argued that public access to Morgan-Lloyd’s records is particularly important because his sentence serves as a “flag” for many other cases. Lawyers also said her comments on Ingraham’s show raised doubts about “the sincerity of her contrition and her acknowledgment that she owes a debt to the community.”
“Public access to information detailing how (Morgan-Lloyd) performed his community service would shed light on the genuineness of his remorse and the extent to which probation constitutes a just and fair response to the events of January 6,” wrote the lawyers.
Lamberth concluded that Morgan-Lloyd’s community service records do not tell the public “what happened” in the adjudication of his criminal case. The records, he noted, “are almost entirely filled out by Morgan-Lloyd and the supervisors at the various sites where she performed her community service.”
“Basically, they provide no information to the public about how the Court reached a particular decision,” Lamberth wrote.
Morgan-Lloyd’s attorney opposed the media request, arguing that the records are confidential and that disclosing them would violate his privacy rights.
Federal prosecutors have not taken a position on the request.
More than 730 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the riot. At least 89 riot defendants were convicted after pleading guilty, mostly to misdemeanors. Judges ordered at least 48 of them to perform between 40 and 250 hours of community service, according to an AP tally.
Other news organizations requesting the recordings were: CNN, ABC News, Buzzfeed, CBS News, The Wall Street Journal, The EW Scripps Company, Gannett Co., Gray Media Group, The Los Angeles Times, National Public Radio, NBC News, The New York Times, ProPublica, Tegna Inc. and The Washington Post.
Separately, the media has requested access to the community service records of a Kentucky couple, Thomas and Lori Vinson, who pleaded guilty to charges related to the riots. US District Judge Reggie Walton sentenced them both in October to five years probation and 120 hours of community service. Walton has not yet ruled on the media request.
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