Composite screenshot of Fox News YouTube video (Featured: Jacob Chansley, aka the QAnon Shaman)
© 2023 Blaze Media LLC. All rights reserved.
Perhaps the most recognizable January 6 defendant, the QAnon Shaman, 35, has filed a motion to vacate his conviction just one month after he was released from federal custody and sent to a halfway house.
In September 2021, the QAnon Shaman, aka Jacob Chansley, pled guilty to civil disorder and violent entry into the Capitol for his role in the melee in Washington, D.C., nine months earlier. Chansley was sentenced to serve 41 months, but he was released from federal prison in March after just 27 months. According to reports, the Bureau of Prisons may opt to allow a well-behaved federal inmate to serve the final 12 months of his sentence at a halfway house. Chansley, originally from Arizona, has been living at a halfway house in Phoenix for the past several weeks.
Now that Chansley is out of federal custody, his current attorney, William Shipley, who has stepped up to represent several January 6 defendants, has now filed a motion to vacate Chansley's conviction. The motion, filed in federal court on Thursday, argued that the Department of Justice violated its Brady obligation to provide potentially exculpatory evidence to Chansley before he pled and before his sentencing. Because the DOJ withheld the CCTV footage from inside the Capitol building, footage that indicated that Capitol police escorted Chansley throughout his time inside, Shipley claimed that the government had denied Chansley "due process."
"Because this material was favorable to Mr. Chansley for purposes of sentencing, and it was suppressed by the Government, Mr. Chansley’s due process rights were clearly violated by the failure to produce the CCTV camera video from inside the Capitol," the motion stated.
In early March, Tucker Carlson aired a small portion of the January 6 footage in an episode of his erstwhile Fox News show, "Tucker Carlson Tonight." That aired footage seemed to exonerate Chansley.
Chansley's motion intends to use discovery to unearth other CCTV footage that has thus far been denied by the DOJ. Shipley noted that the DOJ need not have had ill intent to have violated Chansley's rights. "Suppression … is not the nefarious burying of evidence," Shipley said. "It just means it wasn’t brought to light by the government. The government knew what was there and did not illuminate the fact that it was there."
In the motion and in his recent statements, Shipley has also taken aim at the unfair prosecution and deliberate mischaracterization of January 6 defendants like Chansley. "Had the videos been properly disclosed as required by law," Shipley wrote last month, "they would certainly have been used as a counterpoint to the one-sided and factually inaccurate portrait of Mr. Chansley painted by the Government in its Sentencing Statement and arguments at the sentencing hearing."
"Mr. Chansley is not the personification of evil in the way the government has made him out to be," he added elsewhere.
Shipley has also argued that Chansley received ineffective counsel from his previous attorney, Albert Watkins. Shipley claimed that Watkins was derelict in his duties when he did not aggressively seek to acquire the CCTV footage after he was made aware of its existence at Chansley's sentencing. That misstep allowed the government to paint Chansley as a dangerous insurrectionist, Shipley claimed.
"By not securing the video and determining whether it supported Mr. Chansley’s description of events, Attorney Watkins allowed the Government to take liberties in describing Mr. Chansley’s conduct while inside the Capitol, without fear of the unproduced videos contradicting the Government’s claims," Shipley insisted.
Watkins publicly celebrated Chansley's release last month and continues to extend his best wishes. "I want nothing but the very best for Mr. Chansley," Watkins recently told the Epoch Times. "He deserved better from the Government on many levels."
Like Blaze News? Bypass the censors, sign up for our newsletters, and get stories like this direct to your inbox. Sign up here!
Want to leave a tip?
We answer to you. Help keep our content free of advertisers and big tech censorship by leaving a tip today.
Sr. Editor, News
Cortney Weil is a senior editor for Blaze News.