The next time the Cleveland, Tennessee, man charged in Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol breach appears in court in October, his lawyer will be expected to make a call on whether his client will go to trial or enter a plea in the nine-count criminal case.
The judge in the case said it's already unlikely the defendant could go to trial by April 2023.
Joseph Lino "Jose" Padilla, 42, has been detained in a Washington, D.C., jail for the past 18 months as his case has dragged through several hearings and delays with little ground gained on a course of action, U.S. District Judge John D. Bates said Wednesday during a status hearing on the case
"We need to have a course in mind because I'm fearful that it's languishing a little bit, so I'm going to be pressing to see where we're headed," Bates told Padilla and his attorney, Michael Cronkright, and prosecutors who were on hand for the hearing.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas B. Brasher said Padilla's lawyer had made his office aware of a couple of pending issues that needed to be addressed, but he said those issues can be resolved without further delays.
Cronkright said he wasn't quite ready and that Padilla has to have an evaluation done stemming from his diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder that will take some time.
"We do have a couple of specific issues that we're looking at that we think are going to be pivotal to our thinking on the case as to whether we're going to request trial or not," he said, noting prosecutors had been helpful. "I think that as much as it would be nice to be making a decision one way or another today, I think we're getting closer to that date, but I don't think that day is here yet."
Bates set the status hearing for 9:30 a.m. on Oct. 17.
Padilla has remained in federal custody since his arrest Feb. 23, 2021. He pleaded not guilty in the case March 30, 2021, court records show.
Padilla is charged with assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers; civil disorder; assaulting, resisting or impeding officers using a dangerous weapon; obstruction of an official proceeding; 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.
The FBI's Feb. 22, 2021, criminal complaint charging Padilla states he was seen in footage from a police officer's body camera wearing a scuba mask and pushing a police barricade line shouting, "Push! Push!"
Padilla was captured in other footage from the breach 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. 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.
"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.
Padilla since his arrest has continued to seek release, but Bates in detaining him has maintained he "poses a concrete, prospective threat to the safety of the community," court documents state.
Saturday marked 19 months since the Capitol breach that disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress in the process of affirming the 2020 presidential election results and caused $2.7 million in damage, according to federal officials.
More than 860 defendants have been arrested in almost every state and the District of Columbia, officials said Monday in a news release updating action in Capitol breach cases so far.
More than 350 people have pleaded guilty to a variety of charges, many of whom will face incarceration at sentencing, officials said. Among those pleas, 283 have pleaded guilty to misdemeanors, while 70 others pleaded guilty to felonies. Many of those who entered guilty pleas were sentenced to up to 63 months behind bars, officials said.
Officials said 12 people have been convicted at trials, including 10 who were found guilty on felony charges, including one defendant who was found guilty of assaulting, resisting or impeding officers using a deadly or dangerous weapon, which is among the charges Padilla faces in his indictment.
A total of 227 federal defendants have had their cases adjudicated and received sentences. Officials said 116 people have been sentenced to periods of incarceration, and approximately 70 defendants have been sentenced to a period of home detention, including approximately 11 who also were sentenced to a period of incarceration.
Contact Ben Benton at email@example.com or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton.