Ethan Nordean is entering his 13th month of captivity as a political prisoner in the United States of America.
Arrested in his home state of Washington last February on nonviolent charges related to the Capitol protest on January 6, 2021, Nordean, 31, has spent the past year in jail, mostly in solitary confinement. He hasn’t held his young daughter or hugged his wife and parents for months.
In the eyes of the Biden regime—on a destructive crusade to exact revenge against supporters of Donald Trump—Nordean is a threat to the country, an alleged “domestic violent extremist,” i.e., terrorist, as a member of the Proud Boys. That, of course, is not the group that burned, looted, and actually terrorized thousands of American communities throughout 2020, responsible for at least two dozen deaths and $2 billion in property damages.
Nordean’s real crime in Joe Biden’s America was to support Donald Trump in the 2020 election. During an exchange last year at a congressional hearing between FBI Director Christopher Wray and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Wray suggested Nordean was among the “most dangerous, most serious” January 6 criminal cases.
So, what exactly did Nordean do that so alarmed Wray? Like hundreds of thousands of Americans, he made plans to travel to Washington, D.C. to participate in a political protest—something that was not considered a crime before January 6, 2021. Nordean and other members of the Proud Boys peacefully assembled near the Washington Monument in the morning and then walked toward Capitol Hill.
When some members of the Proud Boys and at least two FBI informants with the group physically breached a police line around 1 p.m. on January 6, Nordean was not among them.
Surveillance video released in his case by court order—and over the Justice Department’s strenuous objections—shows Nordean walking through an open door on the west side of the building as Capitol police stood by. He neither carried a weapon nor assaulted police officers; the most serious charges against him are conspiracy and obstruction of an official proceeding, two nonviolent felonies.
Sworn affidavits filed in the case show that Nordean had plans to return to his Airbnb rental in D.C. by 3 p.m. on January 6, where Michael Graves, a former lead singer of the punk rock band the Misfits, intended to perform for Ethan and his friends. Not exactly the kind of schedule that lends itself to violently toppling the seat of government.
Yet Ethan Nordean, a man with no criminal record who is not accused of committing any violence on January 6, has been incarcerated since April 2021.
There are many villains in this case—Wray, Attorney General Merrick Garland, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Matthew Graves, and the D.C. appellate court, among others—but the man most responsible for Nordean’s captivity is Judge Timothy J. Kelly, appointed to the D.C. District Court by Donald Trump in 2017.
Kelly, a former prosecutor in the same office now handling every January 6 case, is a disgrace to the bench and the U.S. Constitution, part of the vengeful Beltway ruling class hellbent on destroying the lives of American citizens who dared to enter their rarified space that day. (A graduate of Georgetown Law School, Kelly has spent his adult life in Washington, D.C., and served as legal counsel to Iowa Republican Senator Charles Grassley on Capitol Hill before his appointment to the court.)
Although Nordean initially was released after his arrest—by Chief Judge Beryl Howell, a hyperpartisan Obama appointee no less—federal prosecutors petitioned to keep him imprisoned awaiting trial, citing “probable cause” to believe Nordean committed a crime under a terrorism statute. Nordean’s father, Mike, a successful restaurant owner in Seattle, offered a $1 million bond, the bulk of his life savings, and installed cameras around his home to assure Kelly, the judge assigned to the case, that he and his wife would enforce any conditions of release.
But Kelly was unpersuaded. Claiming Nordean might be guilty of “a federal crime of terrorism,” Kelly denied Nordean’s release. “[Although] Nordean did not carry or use a weapon that day, he said and did things that day that are highly troubling,” Kelly wrote in his April 20, 2021 order. Nordean, Kelly continued, posed a danger to his community because of “his role and leadership in a network that frequently creates events with large numbers of people” and alleged involvement in “political violence.”
Nordean’s attorneys, David and Nicholas Smith, immediately appealed. But three judges on the D.C. Circuit Court, including Trump appointee Neomi Rao, upheld Kelly’s decision to detain not just Nordean but his co-defendant, Joseph Biggs, until trial for “coordinating a large group of people and facilitating unlawful conduct,” on January 6. (Kelly has ordered pretrial detention for all five of Nordean’s co-defendants in the Proud Boys case.)
Nordean’s life, and those of his family members, have been a living hell ever since. He’s been held in solitary confinement for weeks at a time, and recently was transferred from a prison near his home to one in Virginia. As is the situation for every detained January 6 defendant, Nordean cannot easily access discovery material or regularly communicate with his lawyers to prepare his defense.
In July 2021, Nordean’s attorneys petitioned Kelly to reconsider bail based on a number of factors, including the government withholding evidence and the prospect of a delayed trial date. Kelly did not rule on the motion for five months; in December, he again denied Nordean’s release. Unsatisfied with a pledge to prevent Nordean from using the internet or cell phones, Kelly warned that Nordean “would still have access to less sophisticated means of communication, such as the use of a land-line telephone or the regular mail, that he could use to exercise leadership, conduct planning, and communicate with associates.”
At the same time he has refused to release Nordean and his codefendants, Kelly has permitted the Justice Department to drag out the case, violating numerous discovery deadlines and adding new indictments. On 13 occasions, Kelly ruled to exclude time from the Speedy Trial Act clock “in the interest of justice,” the judge laughably claimed.
To complicate matters, prosecutors last month added Enrique Tarrio, the alleged leader of the Proud Boys, and another Proud Boy charged in a separate indictment to Nordean’s case—just weeks before Nordean and his detained co-defendants were finally set to go to trial.
So, as expected, the Justice Department asked Kelly to delay the May 18 trial date based on “recently obtained” evidence and “new factual allegations.” Prosecutors also hinted they may add even more defendants to the case.
Nordean’s lawyers blasted the move. “[The] government elected to pursue 800 or more federal cases simultaneously when that was not driven by any statute of limitations imperative,” David Smith wrote in a motion objecting to the trial date change. “Common sense and basic fairness say the government may not create an unnecessary docket bottleneck and then use it to eliminate the speedy trial rights of hundreds of defendants. Nor may the government’s investigatory and public relations-related goals outweigh the accused’s constitutional rights.”
Kelly, however, disagreed. After denying Nordean’s presumption of innocence, due process rights, and individual freedom for a year, the judge twisted the knife by officially vacating the May 18 trial date last week. Insisting the government has been “diligent” in producing discovery in the case, Kelly defended the delay by noting the defendants “are charged with leading a conspiracy at the heart of that day’s events.”
Sixth Amendment violations don’t apply, Kelly wrote, because the government has not “deliberately tried to delay the trial.” And that pesky matter about defendants’ remaining behind bars? “[How] long past May 18 the trial can wait before their statutory or constitutional speedy trial rights are violated is a question the Court need not resolve to grant the Government’s motion.”
Kelly did not set another trial date.
That means the torment of Nordean and his family will continue indefinitely while defense attorneys again petition for his release. “We are half alive,” Judy Nordean, Ethan’s mom, told me over the weekend in describing how she struggles to cope with the government’s persecution of her son.
“It’s like torture,” Mike Nordean said. “It’s not only an injustice to Ethan but an injustice to the whole family.”
To the whole country, I might add.
The Americans involved in the events of January 6, 2021, did not attempt to “overthrow democracy.” Instead, it is the people in power—including Merrick Garland and his line prosecutors—who are systematically and unapologetically destroying the basic tenets of jurisprudence in a myopic mission to punish political dissidents.
And no one more so than D.C. District Court Judge Timothy J. Kelly.