The legal team for Joey Gibson, the leader of Patriot Prayer who was accused of riot crimes in Portland in 2019, released a statement on Thursday announcing that the district attorney has appointed a special prosecutor to investigate his actions in the prosecution of the case. Several questions have arisen to call the whole process into doubt.
In the statement, Gibson’s legal team said:
Special Prosecutor Investigating District Attorney Mike Schmidt for Biased Enforcement
Yamhill County D.A. Brad Berry has been assigned as special prosecutor to oversee an investigation into political and religious bias in the prosecution of Joey Gibson and Russell Schultz for violation of the Oregon anti-riot statute, ORS 166.015 during a political protest held outside the former Antifa hangout known as Cider Riot in Portland.
While a state court judge has found Mr. Gibson’s conduct to be within the protections of the First Amendment, and a federal judge recently declared that both “[Gibson and Schultz] make compelling arguments that their conduct does not rise to the level of ‘tumultuous and violent’ conduct under ORS 166.015,” District Attorney Schmidt has insisted on the continued prosecution of Gibson and Schultz despite turning hundreds of Antifa rioters loose for actual violent conduct.
Gibson and his co-defendant, Russell Schultz, asked a federal court to halt Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt’s prosecution against them, claiming the prosecution is politically motivated. (The state prosecution is still ongoing.) The Oregonian reported on February 26 that U.S. District Judge Karin J. Immergut ruled that while Gibson and Schultz had a compelling case, they could make that argument in state court. Immergut dismissed their federal case:
Schmidt announced in August that he wouldn’t prosecute people involved in “current protests” in Portland on a riot charge without an accompanying allegation of property damage or use of force. He wasn’t district attorney when the Cider Riot case occurred.
Although Gibson and Schultz “make compelling arguments” that their conduct didn’t rise to “tumultuous and violent” conduct as defined by the state’s riot charge, they haven’t shown that the charges are “meritless” to warrant federal court intervention, Immergut found.
Immergut wrote that no compelling evidence existed to mistrust the state court, or to conclude that Schmidt prosecutes people based on their viewpoints, yet she also ruled that gaps existed in the application of the DA’s policies:
Immergut did cite gaps in the argument provided by Schmidt’s lawyer, Assistant Attorney General Jill Schneider, in defending Schmidt’s protest prosecution policy.
Immergut wrote that Schmidt’s lawyer “completely ignores” Gibson’s and Schultz’s argument “that the fact that no Antifa members were charged in the Cider Riot incident on May 1, 2019 shows animus toward Plaintiffs’ viewpoint.”
The judge also said she heard Schmidt’s lawyer for the first time raise “resource considerations” as a justification for Schmidt’s August protest prosecution policy “without offering any evidence to support her position.”
“To the extent that the policy was indeed an effort to address the resource constraints brought about by hundreds of arrests during the summer protests, the policy is poorly written and should have clearly stated that,” Immergut wrote.
“Despite defense counsel’s deficient arguments, this Court finds that the record does not establish that the prosecutions against Plaintiffs were brought in bad faith such that this Court should intervene in the state court prosecution,” Immergut wrote.
A source in Oregon’s legal world told PJ Media that the appointment of Yamhill County DA Brad Barry indicates the investigation may have a pre-determined conclusion. “Barry has been around a long time,” the source said, “and he has a spotty past. My greatest worry is that the investigation will be perfunctory and that the outcome has already been written.” The implication was that Schmidt’s office hired a friendly, politically-aligned third party to investigate Gibson’s claims.
In their announcement, Gibson’s legal team blasted Schmidt’s announcement in the summer of 2020 that his office would not prosecute riot crimes:
A 2015 Oregon State law required Oregon District Attorneys to put into place a written policy formally prohibiting biased enforcement. The appointment of special counsel follows a complaint filed by attorneys for Gibson and Schultz, D. Angus Lee and James Buchal, alleging that the Multnomah County District Attorney has violated the policy by engaging in biased and selective prosecution of Gibson and Schultz because of their political activity and religious affiliation. In an email on March 10, Jeffrey Howes, First Assistant to the D.A. for MCDA, confirmed the appointment of Yamhill County prosecutor Brad Berry to “oversee the investigation.”
The policy specifically prohibits selective or bias enforcement against a person based on their religion or political affiliation. Under District Attorney Schmidt’s infamous non-prosecution policy issued last August, charges sought by police against left wing rioters have been repeatedly dismissed by his office even where there is evidence of direct physical attacks on police and others. A federal judge recently noted that the District Attorney “failed to provide any justification for the non-prosecution policy or explain why it was not evidence of [MCDA]’s bias against [Gibson and Schultz].”
If Gibson’s lawyers are right, the conduct of this investigation should produce clear evidence of bias in the Soros-backed Multnomah County DA’s office. Will it?
Time will tell.
Jeff Reynolds is the author of the book, “Behind the Curtain: Inside the Network of Progressive Billionaires and Their Campaign to Undermine Democracy,” available at www.WhoOwnsTheDems.com. Jeff hosts a podcast at anchor.fm/BehindTheCurtain. You can follow him on Twitter @ChargerJeff, on Parler at @RealJeffReynolds, and on Gab at @RealJeffReynolds.