A federal judge this week told probation officials to resume monitoring the computer activity of a Jan. 6 defendant accused of spreading political misinformation, after an appeals court in February ordered the monitoring to be halted.

The defendant, Daniel Goodwyn, a web designer from San Francisco, is “a self-proclaimed member of the Proud Boys” right-wing extremist group, the FBI said in a 2021 criminal complaint. After pleading guilty to entering and remaining in a restricted building during the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol, Goodwyn, now 34, was sentenced in 2023 to 60 days in jail and a year of supervised probation, which is set to end in August.

“I don’t want to chill anyone’s First Amendment rights,” Judge Reggie B. Walton said at a Thursday hearing. But with the 2024 presidential election approaching, he said, Goodwyn is still engaging “in the same type of rhetoric” that fomented the Jan. 6 violence, based on prosecutors’ accounts of his digital activity. Probation officials will be required to report such rhetoric to the court.

In sentencing Goodwyn in U.S. District Court in Washington last June, Walton ordered probation officials to monitor his computer use during his supervised release to make sure Goodwyn was not instigating further violence. In February, however, the U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C. ruled that Walton had “erred in imposing the computer-monitoring condition” because the judge had failed to consider whether it was “reasonably” necessary.

The appeals court said Walton should hold a new hearing to “develop the record in support” of his decision. After listening to arguments via video Thursday from a defense lawyer and a prosecutor, Walton sided with the government and ordered the monitoring to resume for the remainder of Goodwyn’s probation.

“It’s ridiculous,” Goodwyn’s attorney, Carolyn A. Stewart, said by phone from Florida after the hearing. She said she will ask the appeals court to again halt the monitoring.

Stewart described Goodwyn as a self-employed “investigator and journalist.” She said the crime to which he pleaded guilty did not involve a computer and that the monitoring inhibits his work, especially his digital communications with people who give him information. She said Walton’s decision sets “a bad precedent” that could lead other judges to impose similar probation conditions for Jan. 6 defendants, trampling their First Amendment rights.

Prosecutor Brian Brady said probation officials can monitor Goodwyn’s computer activity by using software and artificial intelligence that identifies potentially incendiary rhetoric without interfering with his legitimate exercise of free speech. He said Walton has the authority to encroach on Goodwyn in that way because Goodwyn remains under court supervision as part of his sentence.

“Throughout the pendency of Goodwyn’s case, he has made untruthful statements regarding his conduct and the events of the day, he has used websites and social media to place targets on police officers who defended the Capitol, and he has used these platforms to publish and view extremist media,” Brady wrote in a court filing.

“Imposing the requested [monitoring] conditions would protect the public from further dissemination of misinformation” and “provide specific deterrence from him committing similar crimes,” Brady added.

Goodwyn attended the hearing via video but did not participate.

In the 2021 criminal complaint, the FBI cited video evidence from Jan. 6 that shows Goodwyn entering the Capitol from the Upper West Terrace with a mob of supporters of President Donald Trump. Hundreds of rioters breached the building that day, spurred by Trump’s false assertion that he had been denied reelection because of voter fraud. The attack temporarily disrupted the formal counting of electoral votes in favor of President Biden.

“Outside the door, Goodwyn used a bullhorn to incite others to go into the Capitol,” an FBI agent said in the complaint. “He yelled several inflammatory statements through the bullhorn to other rioters, including, ‘[b]ehind me, the door is open,’ ‘we need you to push forward, forward,’ ‘we need critical mass for this to work,’ and ‘go behind me and go in.’”

Goodwyn then joined the crowd in entering the Capitol and stayed inside for several minutes, despite being ordered to leave by police, the complaint says.

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