Local attorney detained for grand jury hearing in Washington, DC.
McCall Calhoun, an Americus attorney who documented his participation on Capitol Hill on January 6, 2021during the certification of the Electoral College votes, has been denied release by US District Court Judge Weigle after a 3.5 hour hearing. The judge determined the government proved probable cause to bind the case over to a grand jury for further consideration. The charges Calhoun is facing are Restricted Building or Grounds, Violent Entry or Disorderly Conduct and Tampering with a Witness, Victim or an Informant. The Government’s case was presented by Assistant Attorney Leah McEwen. The case against Calhoun was made up primarily of social media posts made on Twitter, Facebook and Parler. The posts evidenced Calhoun having breeched the building as he narrated the happenings in both video and photos. Special Agent Timothy Armentrot presented the evidence the FBI has been collecting dating back to October of 2020. Special Agent Armentrot indicated that Americus Police Chief, Mark Scott contacted the FBI with the possibility Calhoun had been involved with the events on January 6, 2021. Armentrot described the social media posts as “threatening” in nature. Third party confirmation of the posts were provided by witnesses who had screen shotted the posts and videos. “The Business Insider,” a website also provided video in which Calhoun could be identified in the obstruction. In addition, Calhoun freely gave an interview to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution where he admitted to having trespassed in an act of civil disobedience. Calhoun’s defense attorney, Tim Saviello, made the case Calhoun spoke in a narration, never using the word, “I” but instead referenced, “we” and “us” when speaking of the events. He went further to say Calhoun never encouraged others to participate in the activities. However, the Government thought otherwise, and sited response of an Americus resident who had “liked” the post and indicated he was at a location in route to DC to also be present in the crowd. Saviello then argued elements of the criminal charge indicating that the evidence was equally presented on both sides of the case and “probable” evidentiary standard had not been met by the Government.
Judge Weigle felt the Government had meet their burden and determined there was a congressional proceeding taking place, that Calhoun engaged in substantial steps to obstruct as well as impede the proceedings and was intentional in doing so as his own social media reported his intent was to “stop the steal.” Natural interference was also determined to be probable, as once again his own words referencing the nature of interference was to “storm the Capitol with a mob.” With probable cause being determined, the case was bound over to grand jury and an Order of Removal was signed for Calhoun’s case to be heard in US District Court for the District of Columbia.
After determining there was probable cause, the hearing moved into a detention hearing. The purpose of such a hearing is to determine if there is any condition in which the defendant can be released into the community and if there is a flight risk. Once again, the Government used Calhoun’s social media posts as evidence he would put a community in danger should he be released. The Government used several posts in which the defendant spoke of taking “head shots” a need for “violent retribution,” tirades on Communists, Antifa and Black Lives Matter, several references to firearms and ammunition, “peace no longer being an option” and consistent writing of “patriots” and what was required of them and of “going to war.” In addition to the posts, the FBI obtained a search warrant for the law offices and residence of Calhoun, located on Lee Street in Americus. At the residence, clothing matching those seen in the videos was procured. At Calhoun’s sister’s home in Macon, Georgia more items matching the clothing were found. Calhoun had been under surveillance in Americus prior to his arrest in Macon, Georgia. The FBI tracked him to superior court where he was representing a client, and eventually the FBI lost contact with him, to find him in Macon. Calhoun was utilizing a spare bedroom in the house. At the home, the FBI recovered several shot guns, a couple of AR-15 type rifles, brass knuckles, a couple of handguns, “100’s to 1000’s rounds of ammunition” and several other items of clothing matching those Calhoun wore in the visuals taken at the Capitol.
Making a case for Calhoun, his attorney pointed out the context in which the posts were made needed to be determined and not taken individually. “We don’t know what he was responding to.” The attorney also asked Saviello if there was any evidence Calhoun had acted violently since October 2020. The agent denied having any such evidence. He also denied having seen any violence in the videos posted on social media, nor having witnessed any during the time of surveillance. Saviello also established Calhoun showed no resistance in his arrest, was compliant in identifying the guns and ammunition as his own, and cooperative with the search and arrest. Additionally, the attorney submitted to the court emails and voicemails which he described as threatening Calhoun and his family. As a proof of character, affidavits to Calhoun’s credit were also submitted to the court. To prove Calhoun could abide by reasonable conditions of the court, Mary Calhoun, sister to the defendant reported he would be allowed to stay in her home in Macon. She reported she gives good advice, could limit Calhoun’s internet access and ensure he was compliant in any reporting that was demanded of him. When given the opportunity, the Government asked of Ms. Calhoun if she was aware the defendant was going to DC on January 21, 2021. She admitted she was and had questioned him if he was taking a firearm. After he denied any intention to take a gun, she reports feeling comfortable that he was going to be making a trip.
Regarding flight risk, the Government pointed towards the fact the FBI tracked Calhoun to Macon to apprehend him. They claimed a reasonable person who was in fear of their safety would have contacted law enforcement and made them aware of where they could be located. The defense used the fact Calhoun had shown up for court dates and continued to operate as an attorney as evidence he has no intention to flee. After taking a small recess the judge returned to the court to render his decision.
The judge detained Calhoun. The judge spoke of seeing a decompensation in Calhoun over the past 6 months. The judge spoke of the eloquence of government buildings and court rooms and how they manifested the “sacredness of the law and the US Capitol is the pinnacle of that. “You and your friends shred, killed five people without anything holding you back but brute force. You don’t respect the Capitol Police or the Capitol. I have no reason to think you’ll respect anything I do.” The judge went on to say no condition he could employ would make him feel comfortable about the level of danger Calhoun would bring to the community. The judge felt similar in the flight risk Calhoun proposed. Although not quite as intensely, he spoke on his fear that Calhoun would not return to DC for further hearings. Nor did he trust his social media contacts or other “patriots” not to assist Calhoun in any further endeavors. Calhoun will be transported to DC for the remainder of his time in custody.
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