Reason Roundup

January 6 Defendant Who Says He Thought He Was Allowed in Capitol Beats Charges

Plus: "A brave new world of astonishing individual freedom," Biden threatens Amazon, and more...


New Mexico man becomes the first January 6 defendant to be acquitted. Matthew Martin—who faced four federal charges as a result of entering the U.S. Capitol building during the January 6 protests and riots—has been found not guilty on all counts.

The feds had charged Martin with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority; disorderly conduct which impedes the conduct of government business; disruptive conduct in the Capitol buildings; and pandering, demonstrating, or picketing in Capitol buildings.

Martin contended that Capitol police had let him into the building, leading him to think it was OK to enter. "According to MARTIN, Capitol guards opened the doors to the Rotunda and let them in, though MARTIN did acknowledge seeing smashed glass," stated the government's complaint against him.

This seems reasonable—and Judge Trevor McFadden of the U.S. District Court for the District of Washington agreed. McFadden called Martin's defense "plausible" and noted that "people were streaming by and the officers made no attempt to stop the people."

The judge said that while he did not believe that an officer had actually waved Martin into the Rotunda as Martin claimed, video of the scene shows how Martin may have gotten that impression. "I do think the defendant reasonably believed the officers allowed him into the Capitol," opined the judge.

After a two-day bench trial, McFadden acquitted Martin of all charges.

While it was a "close call" on the charge of knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building without lawful authority, "under our system of justice close calls go to the defendant," said McFadden.

The decision is bad news for the feds' cases against the many other January 6 defendants charged with illegally entering the U.S. Capitol. But it's good news for due process and justice.

Certainly not all people who entered the Capitol building that day are blameless. But neither were all of them necessarily acting with criminal intent, and McFadden's decision reinforces this.


Lol. Axios CEO Jim VandeHei warns that a decentralized internet free from government or corporate gatekeepers would "be the Wild West of speech and power." VandeHei frets that "the rule-makers America has relied on since its founding — government and business — would be replaced by a brave new world of astonishing individual freedom." Oh, no!

What Axios is worried about has come to be known as Web3. Reason TV explains what it's all about:


Is it the president's job to get involved in unionizing employees at a particular business? President Joe Biden apparently thinks so:


Biden said yesterday that "major war crimes" were happening in Ukraine, while the White House ordered new sanctions on two Russian banks and on Russian President Vladimir Putin's daughters. Meanwhile, authorities in Ukraine have been urging residents of Donetsk, Luhansk, and parts of the Kharkiv regions to flee the area as Russia launches another major offensive in the east.

"The sense of urgency by the Ukrainian government for civilians to flee comes days after reports emerged of executions, rape and other human rights abuses of civilians by departing Russian forces as they retreated from the suburbs of Kyiv. Russia has denied the reports and said they were staged by Ukrainian troops," reports The Wall Street Journal. "Following heavy losses, Russia pulled its troops from the vicinity of Kyiv and from the northern Chernihiv and Sumy regions last week, in a strategy shift that the Kremlin says will allow it to focus on seizing the parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, collectively known as Donbas, that remain under Ukrainian control."


• "On Feb. 22 Reynaldo Munoz became the 3,000th incarcerated person whose U. S. criminal conviction was thrown out after it was determined that he had been falsely convicted," writes Austin Sarat at The Hill, in a piece excoriating America's "scandalous false convictions record."

• Minneapolis police can no longer do no-knock raids, the city says. But the new rules still leave a lot of room for disaster, allowing police to enter just 20 to 30 seconds (depending on the time of day) after announcing themselves. They also make exceptions for a wide range of "exigent circumstances," giving police ample leeway to just barge right in by claiming they were worried about evidence being destroyed or a suspect leaving.

• The extension of the student loan repayment moratorium is now official:

• A Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputy kneeled on the head of a handcuffed man for more than three minutes, and Sheriff Alex Villanueva said he is trying to bring criminal charges against the person who leaked video of the abuse. "Dude, you're in L.A. County. Don't you have more serious crimes to worry about than somebody leaking a video? And aren't you really doing this because it's embarrassing you?'" commented First Amendment lawyer Karl Olson in the Los Angeles Times.

• Ohio is now micromanaging what kinds of trees people can plant.