Attorney for defendants in capitol riots, including local former officers, missing in court

ORLANDO, Fla. — Federal prosecutors are now warning that more than a dozen people accused in the Capitol riots, including two former local law enforcement officers, do not have adequate representation at this time. This comes after the attorney representing them has been out of action for more than a week, reportedly with COVID-19.

A federal court filing shows attorney John Pierce may be on a ventilator due to complications from COVID-19, though his exact diagnosis and whereabouts are in dispute. The absence of the attorney brings these cases to a standstill.

9 Investigates spoke to one of Pierce’s clients last week.

READ: Windermere officer, former Apopka officer arrested on charges stemming from Capitol riot

Former Longwood and Windermere Officer Kevin Tuck told 9 Investigates he was waiting on clearance from his attorney to speak on camera, but now we know that attorney has been missing from court appearances. In his place, a member of his team who is not a licensed attorney, has reportedly been appearing in court.

“You look at Jan. 6, it was a day that patriots were fed up. Fed up. Patriots are being arrested left and right, for trespassing? You’ve got to be kidding me,” Tuck said in a YouTube video.

Tuck and his son, Nathaniel, who also worked as an Apopka police officer, are both facing federal prison time after investigators determined they made their way into the Capitol on Jan. 6. Now, the filing from prosecutors seeking those charges, shows their attorney John Pierce is “reportedly ill with COVID-19, on a ventilator, and unresponsive. For roughly the past week, Ryan Marshall—an associate from Mr. Pierce’s law firm who is not a licensed attorney — has been appearing in Mr. Pierce’s place at court hearings.”

WATCH: ‘Rise up’: Ex-cop accused of participating in Capitol riot rails against arrest on YouTube

The filing goes on to state that “The U.S. Attorney’s Office has had no contact with Mr. Pierce — by phone, e-mail, or otherwise —since Monday, August 23, 2021, when he appeared for a hearing before the Honorable Paul L. Friedman in United States v. Jeremiah Caplinger, No. 21-cr-342 (PLF). Since that time, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has heard conflicting information about Mr. Pierce’s health and whereabouts.”

“Mr. Marshall represented to the court that Mr. Pierce was hospitalized with COVID19, on a ventilator, and non-responsive. After that information was reported publicly, a different individual reached out to an NPR correspondent and wrote that Mr. Pierce did not, in fact, have COVID, but instead ‘was hospitalized on Monday due to symptoms that he believed might be related to Covid-19’; ‘appears to have been suffering from dehydration and exhaustion’; and ‘remains under the care of his doctors[.]’”

Prosecutors wrote, “Adding to the confusion, Mr. Pierce, who generally posts multiple messages to Twitter on a daily basis, has not tweeted since August 20 ... The United States thus finds itself in a position where defendants Paul Rae, Kevin Tuck and Nathaniel Tuck and 14 other defendants charged in connection with the Capitol Riot appear to be effectively without counsel.”

READ: Coronavirus: Study finds unvaccinated people 29 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19

“Hopefully, Mr. Pierce will soon regain his health and be able to continue his representation of defendants Paul Rae, Kevin Tuck and Nathaniel Tuck. The government did, however, want to make the Court aware of Mr. Pierce’s reported illness and its impact on the case so that the Court can take any steps it believes necessary to ensure that the defendants’ rights are adequately protected while Mr. Pierce remains hospitalized.”


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Karla Ray

Karla Ray, WFTV.com

Karla Ray anchors Eyewitness News This Morning on Saturday and Sundays, and is an investigative reporter for the 9 Investigates unit.