Ellen, like so many residents of Washington, D.C., believes January 6 was an horrific attack on American democracy.
In a recent interview with C-SPAN founder Brian Lamb, Ellen—no last name given—twice referred to the Capitol protest as an “insurrection.” She told Lamb, her longtime former colleague at the network, that she was “horrified” by what happened that day. “As a citizen of this city, as a citizen of this country, as someone who worked for C-SPAN for 32 years—I thought it was horrendous. I thought it was just horrible. It was just devastating.”
She continued: “Our Capitol was attacked, police were attacked, people were killed, people were hurt. It was a really bad thing.”
One might logically assume that such prejudice would instantly disqualify Ellen from serving on a jury for a case involving individuals facing charges for their participation in January 6. Further, the fact Ellen at the time worked for a cable network that covers Congress and aired the events of January 6 as they unfolded that day, also might have prompted her immediate dismissal from the prospective jury pool in a rational world.
But that didn’t happen. With dozens of January 6 trials ongoing and still pending in a city populated nearly exclusively by Trump-hating Democrats, judges and defense attorneys have few options in terms of seating an unbiased jury, let alone a jury of a defendant’s peers. (Particularly when every judge has denied every change-of-venue motion in every case.)
“I was shocked beyond belief that I was chosen,” she admitted to Lamb.
Ellen landed on a jury panel for the third trial of the Oath Keepers, the so-called “militia” group involved in January 6. Among the accused were a 72-year-old man, Bennie Parker, and his 63-year-old wife, Sandra; Connie Meggs, whose husband was convicted of seditious conspiracy in the first Oath Keepers trial; Laura Steele, a former law enforcement officer from North Carolina; William Issacs, a 23-year-old with autism; and Michael Greene, a black lieutenant in the Oath Keepers organization.
Four defendants—Sandra Parker, Steele, Meggs, and Isaacs—entered the building that afternoon. None of the individuals on trial were charged with carrying a weapon or assaulting police officers but they faced serious felonies including obstruction of an official proceeding and conspiracy. Their fate rested in Ellen’s hands and 11 other residents of Washington, D.C.
Ellen’s 90-minute interview, first reported by Politico, is a jaw-dropping peek into the mind of a D.C. juror. Ellen is a stereotypical urban, elite white woman—a January 6 defendant’s worst nightmare. It’s a fair bet a pink pussy hat is safely tucked away in her nightstand drawer. Her voice dripped with condescension with a detectable East Coast accent. (She lived in New York City and Maryland before landing in D.C.) Alternating between giggling, crying, uptalking, preening, and taking dramatic pauses, Ellen makes the listener pity her former seatmates.
After the five-week trial ended, Ellen took it upon herself, with the help of a lawyer on the jury, to persuade hesitant jurors to find the defendants guilty.
“There were many counts where we started out, maybe one or two to 10 and we brought the other 10 along,” she bragged. Ellen compared the closed-door drama to “12 Angry Men” and posited herself as the modern-day Henry Fonda. “I think it’s probably similar.”
Most of the jurors, Ellen explained, did not pay close attention to the trial and wanted to acquit on several charges. (There were reports of very heated arguments and noticeable division during the six-day deliberations.) Ellen credited the attorney on the jury with “helping” her sway the outlier jurors their way.
That attorney once worked for the Justice Department. “How that was allowed, I’ll never know. He couldn’t believe it.”
Ellen condemned jurors for bringing their “personal views and values” into the jury room, but it’s hard to believe Ellen did not do the same. Throughout the interview, Ellen took potshots at the defendants. “They didn’t understand very much about our city, our laws, our government,” Ellen scoffed. The defendants, she noted, “weren’t even from big cities. These were people from, living, on farms in rural places, most of them had no concept of Washington, D.C.”
When asked to describe Oath Keepers, Ellen sighed as if tormented by the question. The group, she complained, just isn’t woke enough for her taste. “I don’t think it’s a racially mixed group, I don’t think it’s a politically mixed group.” Oath Keepers share “the same politics” as Donald Trump, Ellen concluded, which presumably isn’t a good thing in her mind. (This is the same Ellen who boasted about persuading a jury that was two-thirds black to vote her way in the end.)
While portraying herself as a legal eagle, Ellen nonetheless struggled to grasp basic tenets of the law. She expressed shock that the Parkers brought a handgun and AR-15 with them on the drive from Ohio—even though Bennie Parker left the guns back in Virginia, where they were staying, when they went to D.C.