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Jan. 6 rioter who used sovereign citizen ‘gobbledygook’ at trial is found guilty

WASHINGTON — A Jan. 6 rioter who represented himself during a jury trial and advanced sovereign citizen arguments that a federal judge described as “bulls—” and “gobbledygook” was found guilty Tuesday and ordered into government custody.

Taylor James Johnatakis of Washington state was arrested in February 2021 and went to trial starting last week. After just a few hours of deliberation, a jury found Johntakis guilty on Tuesday of felony counts of obstruction of an official proceeding, assaulting officers and civil disorder, as well as four misdemeanor charges.

Judge Royce Lamberth had grown frustrated with Johnatakis during a pretrial conference last week that took place the day before jury selection began. Johnatakis repeatedly said that he wanted to accept “full liability” for the charges. “I would like to come to a resolution,” Johnatakis said, though he refused to plead guilty to the charges.

Johnatakis “could get a lesser sentence” if he “weren’t so hardheaded,” Lamberth said.

Taylor James Johnatakis pushes against police with a metal barrier on Jan. 6, 2021.U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia

“I’m telling you the facts of life. You don’t believe me,” Lamberth said. “When they find you guilty, you’re going to jail.”

Once the jury trial began, Johnatakis didn’t call any witnesses or put on a defense.

“I have repented all my sins,” Johnatakis said during the trial, saying he requested that Lamberth “discharge” the matter — a common phrase from sovereign citizens — since, he said, there was no “controversy” before the court.

During the trial, Johnatakis questioned an FBI agent, Michael Kiley, on whether he accepted Johnatakis’ apology for his actions. Kiley responded that it wasn’t his place to accept Johnatakis’ apology.More than 1,200 people have been charged in connection with the Capitol attack, and more than 400 have received sentences of incarceration. Online “Sedition Hunters” say about 1,000 additional rioters have been identified, but not yet arrested.

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