A federal judge held top officials of the Washington, D.C., jail in contempt of court on Wednesday, ruling they had improperly delayed medical treatment for a defendant being kept in their custody in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
Calling the delay of treatment for the defendant, Christopher Worrell, “incompetent” and “inexcusable,” Judge Royce C. Lamberth of Federal District Court in Washington said he would also refer the case to the Justice Department for a potential investigation into whether Mr. Worrell’s civil rights — and the rights of other jailed defendants — had been violated.
“Does no one care?” Judge Lamberth asked the jail officials and their lawyers at one point, describing their bungling of Mr. Worrell’s treatment as “more than inept.”
Mr. Worrell, a member of a Florida chapter of the Proud Boys, was denied bail and placed in the jail shortly after his arrest in March on charges of assaulting a police officer and obstructing Congress’s certification of the presidential vote on Jan. 6. He has cancer and is receiving chemotherapy, and after going into custody, he broke his wrist.
He was scheduled for surgery on his wrist in June, Judge Lamberth said at a hearing on Wednesday, but by September, the surgery had not taken place and the judge ordered jail officials to provide him with Mr. Worrell’s medical records so that he could consider issuing a formal order requiring the procedure. The jail officials delayed getting Judge Lamberth the records, prompting his angry outburst from the bench.
The civil contempt finding does not carry any penalties like jail time or a fine. The Justice Department and the D.C. Department of Corrections declined to comment on the finding.
Lawyers for several other of the roughly 40 Jan. 6 defendants who are in the D.C. jail in lieu of bail have raised complaints about mistreatment. Some have argued that their clients have been denied proper food and access to showers. Others have complained about restrictions on religious services. Jail officials have denied the accusations and said that the Capitol riot defendants are not being singled out for punishment or mistreatment.
In his contempt finding, Judge Lamberth said he had no idea whether the delays in Mr. Worrell’s medical were connected to Jan. 6, but that he was nonetheless infuriated by them.