Judge Dismisses Charges Against Accused White Supremacist Group, Citing Selective Prosecution and Free Speech Concerns

SANTA ANA, Calif. — A federal judge in Orange County, California, has dismissed criminal charges for the second time against members of a white supremacist group suspected of inciting violence at political rallies. U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney ruled on Wednesday to dismiss charges against Robert Rundo and Robert Boman, who were accused of conspiracy to violate the Anti-Riot Act and rioting.

Rundo is believed to be a founding member of Rise Above Movement (RAM), a self-proclaimed white supremacist group. The group has been described as a “combat-ready, militant group of a new nationalist white supremacy and identity movement” in a federal indictment. Boman was also said to be a member of RAM.

In his decision, Judge Carney agreed with the defendants’ argument that they were being selectively prosecuted, while “far-left extremist groups, such as Antifa,” were not. Carney stated that this selective prosecution raised concerns that the government believed physical assault on Trump supporters was permissible to silence speech.

Boman, who was already free on bond, broke into tears outside the courtroom upon hearing the judge’s ruling. Rundo, who had been detained, was released following the decision. The government filed an emergency motion to keep Rundo in custody, citing the risk of flight and danger to the community. However, a stay on Rundo’s release was issued by the Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, although Rundo had already been released according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ inmate locator.

The federal indictment against Rundo and others alleged that they recruited new members, conducted combat training, and attacked protesters at political rallies in various cities across California. Rundo was accused not only of organizing these violent confrontations but also of attacking protesters and police officers. Previous charges against Rundo were dismissed in 2019 when his attorneys argued that the Anti-Riot Act was unconstitutional, but the charges were reinstated in 2021 by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The case against Rundo and Boman has garnered attention due to concerns of selective prosecution and the implications for free speech. The judge’s decision to dismiss the charges highlights the challenges faced by prosecutors in addressing cases involving political violence. The sentencing hearing for a third defendant, Tyler Laube, who pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of interference with a federally protected right without bodily injury, is scheduled for March.

This ruling comes as Judge Carney faced controversy in 2020 for racially insensitive comments made towards a Black court official, which led him to step down as chief judge. Despite this, his decision in the case against the white supremacist group stands and highlights the complexities faced by the legal system in addressing cases involving extremist violence.