Hogan’s decision appears to stem from long-standing frustration with the ability of several Jan. 6 defendants to access evidence and prepare for trial in some detention facilities. Although some judges dismissed the defendants’ complaints as exaggerated, Hogan found that Rappahannock’s facility was particularly ill-suited to handle the massive amounts of video evidence that Nichols would need to review before trial.
Hogan rejected a proposal from prosecutors to transfer Nichols to a facility in Lewisburg, Va., which he said had experienced similar issues with access to evidence.
Nichols is one of the most high-profile defendants charged with violence related to the Jan. 6 attack. His chilling rants broadcast live before, during and after the attack had been highlighted by the January 6 select committee and in court.
“We are not going to have our election or our country stolen from us. If we find out you politicians voted for it, we’re gonna drag your fucking ass through the streets,” Nichols said as he walked toward the US Capitol.
Prosecutors say he conspired with a co-defendant, Alex Harkrider, to bring guns to Washington and engage in violence. Hogan agreed in March 2021 that Nichols posed a danger to the community, warranting his remand.
Nichols was originally housed in a correctional facility in Washington, DC, but was moved to Rappahannock after a violent incident at the prison. Nichols maintains he was not involved in the alleged abuse, but his lawyer said he was placed in solitary confinement and had his belongings taken from him before being transferred to the other prison.
For months, McBride filed a series of motions asking for Nichols’ release from pretrial detention. More recently, he complained that prison officials at the DC facility — prior to Nichols’ transfer to Rappahannock — stole a USB drive containing evidence protected by the attorney and his client that he needed to prepare for trial. McBride alleged that officials may have passed this information to the government to help disrupt Nichols’ defense.
Hogan said there was no evidence to support McBride’s claim that anything sinister had happened and repeatedly dismissed McBride’s characterization of the incidents, which prosecutors and officials DC prison rejected.
But Hogan nevertheless agreed that Nichols’ discovery access issues were legitimate and warranted his temporary release ahead of his trial, which has still not been scheduled. Prosecutors urged Hogan to work with the parties and set a date as soon as possible.