WASHINGTON — An alleged Three Percenter under indictment on multiple felony counts in connection with the Capitol riot asked a federal judge Thursday to allow him to represent himself in his criminal case.
Alan Hostetter, a former California police chief and yoga instructor, told U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth he had decided to represent himself pro se. Hostetter is one of six alleged members of a Three Percenters militia group accused of conspiring to bring hatchets and body armor to D.C. on January 6 to disrupt the joint session of Congress. According to the Associated Press, Hostetter could also face potential legal trouble for using his tax-exempt charitable organization, American Phoenix Project, to oppose COVID-19 lockdown restrictions and spread debunked claims that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump.
Before hearing Hostetter’s request, Lamberth – who was appointed to the D.C. District Court in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan and who previously served as its chief judge – told him he had never seen a pro se defendant succeed in court and asked Hostetter’s attorney, Karren Kenney, whether she had counseled him against it.
“I hope you advised him how foolish that is,” Lamberth said, to which she said she had.
Nevertheless, Hostetter said he still wanted to represent himself. In addition to being the former chief of the police department in La Habra, California, Hostetter said he had a master’s degree in public administration and was a graduate of the FBI National Academy – which is not the FBI’s internal training program for agents, but rather a 10-week professional study program for law enforcement managers.
Hostetter told Lamberth he wanted to represent himself because he thought it would save him money – even though Lamberth said he would likely qualify for Criminal Justice Act counsel – and because he believed it would better allow him to highlight the “corruption” in the January 6 investigations. He referred Lamberth to multiple posts on a right-wing news aggregation site claiming the FBI had infiltrated and instigated the Capitol riot.
Hostetter also asked Lamberth to appoint him a legal advisor, although he requested they have no association with Skull & Bones, Free Masonry “or any other organizations that require oaths or vows of secrecy.”
Lamberth indicated he was likely to grant Hostetter’s request to go pro se, but ultimately allowed him a 30-day extension he requested to file an affidavit. Lamberth also said at that time he would address concerns raised by the Department of Justice that, based on a recent video he had posted, Hostetter appeared to not understand that a protective order in the case would prohibit him from releasing evidence publicly.
Hostetter isn’t the first Capitol riot defendant to decide to go it alone. Earlier this week, a defendant from the Albany, New York, area – Brandon Fellows – appeared before U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden in his first hearing as his own counsel. During the course of that two-hour hearing, Fellows appeared to admit to two new felonies, including attempting to illegally get a judge disqualified from his case, and failed to achieve his goal of release from pretrial detention.
Hostetter and his five co-defendants were due back in court next on December 3 for a status conference before Lamberth.
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