The lawyer for a woman who was arrested for allegedly breaching the Capitol on January 6 appealed to the example of singer Lana Del Ray to explain to a judge why his client possibly violated a court order when she wore a mesh mask.
In a Monday filing, Rachel Powell’s attorney pleaded with U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth not to revoke her pre-trial release and charge her with contempt for wearing a mask with holes in it. He explained that his client had “seen stories about a singer, Lana Del Rey, who fashioned a clear plastic barrier under a see-through fabric for a public book signing event.”
Her workplace has now removed the video. Rare that thumbing your nose at a judge involves an actual nose! pic.twitter.com/Bp5cwPL2qq
— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) April 9, 2021
Earlier this month, Lamberth had demanded an explanation after video circulated on social media showing Powell adorned with the porous mask at her workplace. As a condition of her pre-trial release, U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell — an Obama appointee who supervised the grand jury during the Mueller investigation — had ruled in February that Powell “must wear a mask whenever she leaves her residence.”
Powell’s “decision to appear in a video wearing a mask with holes in it at work mocks compliance with the Court’s Order setting as a condition of pre-trial release that she ‘wear a mask whenever she leaves her residence,’” Lamberth wrote April 16. “No reasonable person could think that the defendant’s ‘mask’ complied with that condition, which Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell imposed to ensure the defendant ‘would not pose a risk to the health and safety of the community when she left her house.’”
“The court does not take the defendant’s willingness to flout the court’s order lightly,” Lamberth continued before threatening to revoke Powell’s pre-trial release, imprison her until her trial, or charge her with contempt of court. He also demanded a written response within 10 days explaining why the court should not take such actions.
Lamberth was also miffed that Powell’s lawyer had allegedly told her to throw the mask away, an act the judge characterized as instructing his client to destroy evidence.
Powell “found herself in a work situation where she was encouraged to refrain from mask wearing at times when she was required to engage with store customers,” the attorney wrote in his response to Lamberth. “Ms. Powell refused to do this and instead sought to find a mechanism for complying with the Court’s Order while also satisfying her employer.”
“As described in the Defendant’s affidavit, Ms. Powell had seen stories about a singer, Lana Del Ray, who fashioned a mask with a clear plastic barrier under a see-through fabric for a public book signing event,” he added.
“While clearly unwise, the creation and use of the mask at issue was not designed to mock the Court or its release condition,” the attorney later wrote. “The Defendant is responsible to support herself and her many children thereby making this job important to her ability to make ends meet.”
“Ms. Powell made a poor choice in wearing the mask at issue, however it was not done with a bad intent,” he added.
He also denied allegations that he instructed his client to throw the mask away, but rather simply told her not to wear it again.
According to Politico, “Powell was known in her community as a vehement anti-masker before her participation in the Jan. 6 events.”
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