A D.C. judge is considering a motion to release a jailed Internet talk show host who faces felony gun charges after a videotaped July Fourth stunt in which he is seen apparently loading a shotgun in the District’s Freedom Plaza.
Adam Kokesh has remained behind bars since he was arrested July 9 after a raid at his Herndon home. His attorney, Peter Cooper, argued Tuesday at a hearing in D.C. Superior Court that prosecutors previously presented incorrect information in court that made it impossible to verify a home address — a condition of supervised release. He said that if the judge released Mr. Kokesh on the condition he stay out of the District and not possess any firearms that he would pose no further threat to the community.
“He’s happy to have a stay-away order from the District of Columbia,” Mr. Cooper told Judge Patricia A. Broderick.
Prosecutors said they received the motion just before the start of Tuesday’s hearing, so Judge Broderick gave the U.S. attorney’s office two days to respond — at which point she would make a decision if or under what conditions Mr. Kokesh could be set free.
Mr. Kokesh’s criminal charge — carrying a firearm outside a home or business — stems from a video posted on YouTube in which he is shown loading four shells into a shotgun and pumping a shell into the chamber. Several days after the video appeared online, police raided Mr. Kokesh’s Herndon home and recovered 10 firearms, including a 12-gauge shotgun believed to the weapon in the video. Also found in the house were marijuana and hallucinogenic mushrooms, which spawned separate criminal charges in Virginia. He was jailed in Fairfax County before being transferred to the District.
On Tuesday, Mr. Cooper asserted that all the weapons were legally owned in Virginia, but prosecutors said at least one of the guns had an obliterated serial number — another potential criminal offense.
Mr. Kokesh has faced numerous criminal charges across the country for protest-related activities, but so far none seem to have resulted in such serious charges, according to supporters who crowded the courtroom.
“This is the most trouble that Adam has been in for sure,” said friend and colleague Chris Cantwell, who is hosting Mr. Kokesh’s online talk show while he remains in jail.
A gaggle of supporters, including gun rights activist Dick Heller, came to the courthouse Tuesday to watch the proceedings and protest before the hearing. Mr. Heller’s legal case challenging restrictive gun laws in the District ended with the Supreme Court overturning the city’s near-total handgun ban in 2008. Some wore T-shirts emblazoned with the name of Mr. Kokesh’s talk show, “Adam vs. The Man,” while others had buttons and other items with Second Amendment rights language.
After his hearing on the gun charges concluded, Mr. Kokesh was whisked into another courtroom for a separate hearing on marijuana charges stemming from protest activity in June, when police said they observed him smoking marijuana in front of the White House. Judge Patricia Wynn agreed to grant Mr. Kokesh a $100 bond in that case.
Mr. Cooper noted his client seemed to get a more favorable reception from Judge Broderick on Tuesday than he had at a preliminary hearing — when Judge Frederick J. Sullivan called him “a very dangerous man.”
He suggested that Mr. Kokesh’s court case could become part of a larger fight for gun rights. While the Heller decision afforded D.C. residents the right to own firearms, the weapons are typically restricted to residents’ homes.
“He has a position on the Second Amendment and how it applies to the gun cases in D.C.,” Mr. Cooper said. “I think the position he’s in is now set up to bring the issue of Heller out to the forefront.”