A federal judge on Wednesday held top Washington jail officials in contempt, finding they violated a U.S. Capitol breach defendant’s civil rights by impeding his access to medical care.
U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth, a Reagan nominee, found Washington jail warden Wanda Patten and Department of Corrections Director Quincy Booth in civil contempt in a written order after expressing displeasure with them during a court hearing.
The order does not include sanctions or penalties but was being transmitted to Attorney General Merrick Garland for an inquiry into potential civil rights violations of defendants charged in relation to the Jan. 6 Capitol breach, “as exemplified in this case.”
“It’s clear to me the civil rights of the defendant were violated by the D.C. Department of Corrections,” Lamberth said in federal court in Washington. “I don’t know if it’s because he’s a January 6 defendant or not.”
The referral concerns the treatment of Christopher Worrell, who has been charged with civil disorder and other counts.
Worrell, who has been held since being arrested in March, has been dealing with a finger fracture and cancer, according to court records.
In June, an orthopedic surgeon at a nearby hospital recommended Worrell have surgery to repair the fracture.
A surgery for the fracture is still in the process of being approved by U.S. Marshals, Worrell’s attorneys and prosecutors wrote in a joint update last week.
Lamberth said after receiving the update, he contacted Lamont Ruffin, the acting U.S. Marshal, to inquire about the subject.
Ruffin said that repeated requests for medical records from the D.C. Department of Corrections (DOC) did not yield necessary notes. The judge then ordered the D.C. jail and DOC to provide the records to the court.
D.C. officials didn’t respond to the order, Lamberth in a separate filing Tuesday. He ordered them to appear before him and show why they should not be held in civil contempt.
A lawyer for the jail had argued that they had been working to get the records together to comply with the court’s order before the contempt hearing was set.
“He’s needed an operation. He hasn’t gotten it,” the judge said.
Defense lawyers representing a number of Capitol defendants have said their clients are being treated poorly in the D.C. jail. Several defendants have said guards beat them.
“They’re being treated like third-world country political prisoners,” Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) told The Epoch Times.
Spokespersons for the DOC, which runs the lockup, did not return requests for comment.
The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“Both my client and I are pleased with the outcome of the hearing and Judge Lambert’s ruling today,” Alex Stavrou, an attorney representing the defendant, told The Epoch Times in an email.
“On behalf of all January 6 defendants, we support the Judges position that the Office of the Attorney General investigate into potential civil rights violations. On behalf of Christopher Worrell and all January 6 defendants, we trust and pray that the Office of the Attorney General will conduct this inquiry immediately and without prejudice,” he added.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.