NewsFebruary 19, 2024 7:32 PM ET3,880 views

Jon Schaffer's sentencing delayed until April due to health concerns

Jon Schaffer at Capitol

According to a report published Saturday (February 17th) in The Republic, a federal judge in Washington D.C. denied a request from Iced Earth guitarist Jon Schaffer to postpone his sentencing for participating in the January 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol breach until after the Supreme Court rules on the legality of a key charge.

Despite this, Judge Amit P. Mehta did agree to a rescheduling to April 5th for medical reasons, as Schaffer may need to undergo an undisclosed medical procedure, "with the need for a recovery afterwards."

This decision comes after legal debate over the charge of obstructing an official proceeding, which has been used against many of the defendants related to the U.S. Capitol riot, including former President Donald Trump. The Supreme Court is soon to review a related case, United States v. Fischer, which could affect the way Schaffer's charge is applied. 

Federal prosecutors opposed the delay for legal review but did accept a brief postponement due to Schaffer's health issues. Mehta wrote: 

The sentencing hearing presently scheduled for Feb. 20, 2024, is hereby vacated due to the health considerations outlined in defendant's motion. The court will not stay sentencing until resolution of United States v. Fischer. There are other procedural mechanisms by which defendant can seek to delay any term of incarceration, if one is imposed. …And the public interest weighs in favor of not delaying sentencing until the outcome of Fischer.

The obstruction charge, potentially carrying a 20-year sentence, has been a point of contention, with some arguing it has been overly broadly applied. This includes Schaffer and other defendants, who have challenged its use. The case's outcome could influence not only Schaffer's sentencing but also the broader legal approach to the January 6th charges.

Federal authorities argue that Schaffer played an active role in disrupting Congress's certification of the 2020 presidential election results, for which he pleaded guilty. Prosecutors maintain that Schaffer's sentencing should proceed without waiting for the Supreme Court's decision since he was convicted of additional crimes beyond obstruction. They also point to the fact that any impact of the Supreme Court's ruling on Schaffer's case could be addressed through an appeal post-sentencing.

Prosecutors wrote in their response:

Even if the Supreme Court were to decide Fischer adversely to the government, it is not clear that the court's interpretation of (the obstruction charge) would necessarily invalidate Schaffer's conviction in this case.And even if it did, the appropriate venue for challenging such a sentence would be a post-sentencing appeal, and not a motion to set aside the verdict. …Moreover, obstruction of Congress was not Defendant Schaffer's only conviction. He will also be sentenced for unlawfully entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon.

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