Trial Set to Begin for Oath Keepers Leader – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Opening arguments begin Monday in the trial of Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers extremist group. Rhodes is expected to take the stand in his own defense in what will likely be a five-week trial centering on the January 6th Capitol riots.

Rhodes and four others are the first among rioters to face charges of seditious conspiracy.

The events of January 6th unfolded as millions watched. So far, more than 900 people have been charged in the Capitol riots. On Monday, Rhodes will stand trial for the part he played that day. Prosecutors say his role was significant.

Rhodes is being charged with seditious conspiracy – plotting for weeks to overthrow, put down or destroy the government. The last guilty verdict for that offense was nearly 30 years ago.

Attorney Donte Mills is a Law Professor at Temple University Law School
Guest lecturer at Columbia University. He is also a founding partner of Mills & Edwards LLP. He weighed in on the case and said both the prosecution and defense would face challenges.

“There’s no law school class that teaches you how to respond or what charges to go after if people try to overthrow the government or break into the Capitol,” Mills said. “It’s just not an expectation that it could happen in this country. But it did.”

As for Rhodes, who also studied law, he plans to take the stand in his own defense. An attorney for Rhodes declined to speak with NBC 5 Sunday evening before opening arguments. However, the defense is expected to argue his actions were in anticipation of orders from then President Donald Trump.

Mills explained what part of Rhodes’ team’s strategy could be.

“What would you want him to say? You would want him to explain his state of mind,” Mills said. “A lot of this charge will come down to whether he believed he was committing a crime or whether he was prepared to do something that was not illegal. And who can explain that better than him?”

Sentences so far have ranged from probation to several years in prison. A conviction for seditious conspiracy could result in a 20-year prison sentence.

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