WASHINGTON (CN) — A member of the Proud Boys who smashed a window of the U.S. Capitol building with a stolen police riot shield on Jan. 6 is asking to be released from jail for the third time. His bond review motion has already been denied twice by two different federal judges.
Dominic Pezzola, a 43-year-old from Rochester, New York, says that he has received inhumane treatment while jailed in Washington and hasn’t been able to communicate effectively with his attorneys — claims that have been made by fellow insurrectionists who are locked up pending trial.
“Access to personal hygiene such as showers is nearly nonexistent, according to our client, and defense lawyers and relatives I’ve spoken with,” Martin Tankleff and Steven Metcalf, Pezzola’s two attorneys, said in their motion to the court. Tankleff and Metcalf also mentioned that detainees like Pezzola in restrictive housing conditions are held in their cells for almost 24 hours a day, are denied haircuts and religious services, and are given very little, if any, exercise time.
What’s more, speaking with their client is next to impossible, since there is no confidentiality. Because he has refused to get vaccinated against Covid-19, Pezzola must also quarantine for 14 days if he is to meet with the attorneys in person.
“It is impossible to have a free-flowing conversation with Defendant Pezzola,” Tankleff and Metcalf wrote. “Essentially the attorney-client privilege is nonexistent, depriving Dom of his fundamental constitutional right to counsel.”
Pezzola needs to be able to review discovery, which is difficult given the lack of access to laptops and long wait times, his attorneys say. When asked by Kelly if they had driven down from New York to Washington to give the jail a disk of discovery for Pezzola to review, Tankleff and Metcalf replied that they haven’t, as they don’t trust that the process will work.
“Going through this experience for months and having every attempt fail has made us distrust the system and distrust the policy,” Tankleff said.
U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly said at Wednesday’s hearing, however, that he hasn’t been able to find any other cases in which a judge has decided to release the defendant instead of fixing the problem and getting them access to the evidence and counsel.
"If there's a constitutional violation, the remedy is not to release him, the remedy is to fix the problem,” Kelly said.
“You can't continue to incarcerate a defendant if he can't participate in his own defense,” Tankleff responded.
Prosecutors say that nothing has changed since the last time a judge opted to keep Pezzola in pretrial detention — and his “obstructive and destructive intent” is strong.
Once Pezzola made his way violently into the Capitol, he celebrated by smoking a cigar, and later bragged about his actions to his friends.
“Victory smoke in the Capitol, boys,” Pezzola said on video, according to an FBI affidavit. “This is fucking awesome. I knew we could take this motherfucker over if we just tried hard enough.”
Kelly said that even if he denies the request to reopen Pezzola’s detention status, he will still try to remedy the access concerns.
If released, Metcalf says that Pezzola’s wife and mother are willing to be financially responsible for him.
Pezzola is due back in court Friday morning.
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