The cases against 17 of the more than 500 people charged in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol are on hold after their attorney John Pierce– who once represented Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse– has gone missing.
Federal prosecutors warned a judge in the filing that Pierce associate Ryan Marshall — who has been appearing in Pierce’s absence over the past week — “is not a licensed attorney.” Marshall also faces two separate felony criminal cases pending against him in Pennsylvania, the prosecutors said.
An associate told a judge that the attorney, John M. Pierce, was in an accident, then told another judge Pierce was actually on a ventilator, hospitalized with COVID-19, according to a notice prosecutors filed in court in Washington, D.C., on Monday.
Pierce last appeared in court for an Aug. 23 hearing in the case of U.S. Capitol riot defendant Jeramiah Caplinger, a Michigan resident seen breaching the Capitol on Jan. 6 in photos and video footage while wearing a red “Trump 2020” hat and carrying a flag on a long branch.
Pierce did not appear for a scheduled status hearing on Aug. 24 for Nathaniel DeGrave, who was arrested in Las Vegas and indicted earlier this year on nine counts connected to the Capitol breach for which he pleaded not guilty.
“Instead, Ryan Marshall — an associate from Mr. Pierce’s law firm who is not a licensed attorney — appeared in Mr. Pierce’s place,” the court filing said, adding that Marshall has continued to appear in Pierce’s place at court hearings and meetings “for roughly the past week.”
Pierce usually is a fierce and frequent user of Twitter but hasn’t tweeted anything since Aug. 20.
Even before the Rittenhouse case shot his profile into the conservative stratosphere, Pierce had been dogged with lawsuits over the operations of his Los Angeles law firm, which he once predicted would quickly become the nation’s leading litigation practice, but instead rapidly disintegrated.
His handling of the first few months of Rittenhouse’s case has come under withering criticism from Rittenhouse’s current team, which remains concerned that Pierce might try to claim the $2 million bail if Rittenhouse is acquitted of fatally shooting two people and wounding a third during rioting in Kenosha on Aug. 25, 2020.