Case against Cleveland, Tennessee, man charged in Capitol riot set for June status hearing

Defense attorney says confidential, in-person meetings with client too difficult

U.S. Department of Justice / Joseph "Jose" Lino Padilla
U.S. Department of Justice / Joseph "Jose" Lino Padilla

The Cleveland, Tennessee, man facing 12 federal counts in the Jan. 6, 2021, breach of the U.S. Capitol is still struggling to get government information in his case or meet confidentially with his attorney, according to testimony Wednesday in a status hearing in Washington, D.C.

The case was set for another status hearing at 11 a.m. June 8 after prosecutors described technical issues involved in getting case evidence to the defense. The problems were similar when they were discussed at the last status hearing Jan. 26.

Joseph Lino "Jose" Padilla, 41, appeared via teleconference Wednesday before District Judge John D. Bates for what was described on the docket as a status hearing on the release of government case information to the defense that Padilla's attorney described in January as a "trickle of evidence" needed to prepare his case. Padilla has remained in federal custody since his arrest Feb. 23, 2021.

Michael Cronkright, Padilla's attorney for Wednesday's hearing, told Bates he was still having trouble getting Padilla access to case evidence and was finding it nearly impossible to have confidential, face-to-face meetings with Padilla at the Washington, D.C., jail where he's being held.

Cronkright said jail officials were welcoming but it was impossible to speak with Padilla on the phone out of earshot of other inmates and guards and no solutions were immediately offered. He said he keeps seeking help from officials to improve his client's situation.

Federal prosecutors told Bates the volume of evidence on electronic devices and on social media were causing delays and forcing officials on all sides to look for ways to work around problems with supplying information on cases through a database.

As of Wednesday prosecutors said they had provided hundreds of pieces of evidence that hadn't been provided at the last hearing in January. However, none of the social media evidence had been provided to Padilla, officials said. Getting evidence from the digital devices will take additional time but prosecutors said the government had provided Padilla all the discovery evidence he is entitled to up until now.

When the case resumes at the June 8 hearing, Bates said he wanted to be able to start scheduling motion hearings in Padilla's case and work to get a trial date set.

Rebeka Padilla, Padilla's wife, declined to comment when contacted by phone following Wednesday's hearing.

Padilla's charges include assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers; three counts of civil disorder; two counts of assaulting, resisting or impeding officers using a dangerous weapon; obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting; entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon; disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon; engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon; disorderly conduct in the Capitol grounds or buildings; and committing an act of physical violence in the Capitol grounds or buildings.

Padilla pleaded not guilty in the case March 30, 2021, court records show.

The FBI's Feb. 22, 2021, criminal complaint charging Padilla, identified by a tipster who saw him in videos of the riot, states he was seen in footage from a Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia officer's body camera wearing a scuba mask and pushing a police barricade line shouting, "Push! Push! --ing push!"

Other footage from the breach captured Padilla pushing the barricade, and police officers removed his scuba mask and began pushing him and striking him with a police baton "to get him to stop," the complaint states. Soon after, another video showed Padilla helping others move a large, metal-framed sign on wheels toward the barricade, where it was used as a battering ram against police, the complaint states.

Hours later, "Padilla and numerous other rioters began to mass in front of a law enforcement line inside the archway of the U.S. Capitol Lower West Terrace doors. He throws the flagpole at the officers, who are simultaneously being attacked by rioters," the complaint states. The complaint includes images and descriptions of those actions.

Padilla has continued to seek release, but Bates in detaining him has maintained the Cleveland man "poses a concrete, prospective threat to the safety of the community," court documents state.

At the 14-month mark on March 6, more than 775 defendants had been arrested in nearly all 50 states and the District of Columbia, including those charged in both District and Superior Court, according to a monthly federal update on the cases.

As of that date, more than 245 defendants had been charged with assaulting, resisting or impeding officers or employees, including more than 80 people who have been charged with using a deadly or dangerous weapon or causing serious bodily injury to an officer, according to the update.

According to federal authorities, about 140 police officers were assaulted Jan. 6 at the Capitol including about 80 U.S. Capitol Police and about 60 from the Metropolitan Police Department. Approximately 10 people have been arrested on a series of charges that relate to assaulting a member of the media or destroying their equipment on Jan. 6.

Approximately 685 defendants had been charged with entering or remaining in a restricted federal building or grounds, and more than 80 defendants had been charged with entering a restricted area with a dangerous or deadly weapon, according to federal officials.

Another 50 defendants or more had been charged with destruction of government property, and over 30 defendants had been charged with theft of government property. More than 280 defendants had been charged with corruptly obstructing, influencing or impeding an official proceeding or attempting to do so, the update states.

Approximately 40 defendants had been charged with various forms of alleged conspiracy, either conspiracy to obstruct a congressional proceeding; conspiracy to obstruct law enforcement during a civil disorder; conspiracy to injure an officer or some combination of the three, the update states.

As of March 6, approximately 224 individuals had pleaded guilty to a variety of federal charges, from misdemeanors to felony obstruction, many of whom will face incarceration at sentencing, according to the update.

Contact Ben Benton at or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton.

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