But he did not immediately incarcerate Daniel Goodwyn, a San Francisco webpage designer accused of taking part in the assault on the Capitol. The judge said he would give Goodwyn one more chance to comply, even as the defendant insisted he would not.
The judge also warned Goodwyn’s lawyer, John Hull, that he could be held in contempt for repeatedly interrupting the proceedings and for calling a pretrial services officer “prissy” and “arrogant” in an email.
“I’ve never seen a lawyer send something like you sent,” Walton said. “You will not do it again.”
Hull said he did not regret his actions, because his client “was really upset” about the possibility of going back to jail.
The clash in court came as concerns over the delta variant of the coronavirus and shifting masking guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention raised questions about the country’s pandemic recovery.
Goodwyn — charged with felony obstruction of an official proceeding and related misdemeanors — was first arrested in January at his family’s home in Corinth, Tex. During the arrest, according to prosecutors, FBI agents learned that someone in the home was believed to have covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, but Goodwyn refused to take a coronavirus test or wear a mask. When they put one on him, he chewed it and tried to spit it out; they went through five masks before getting him into quarantine at a nearby jail, prosecutors said.
Goodwyn was released in February but has since violated the conditions of his release multiple times, prosecutors said, including by refusing to wear a mask and failing to show up to meetings or report his location. In his most recent meeting, prosecutors said, he asked whether it was illegal to refuse to put on a mask, adding that it would be illegal “to go out and shoot someone in the face.”
Hull said in court that Goodwyn had been diagnosed by a counselor as on the autism spectrum, which made it hard for him to wear a face covering and to handle rules he finds arbitrary. Some autistic people can’t tolerate face masks because of sensitivity to touch and texture. When asked why he wouldn’t wear a mask, Goodwyn said only that “it stresses me out,” then indicated that he does not believe in asymptomatic covid transmission or in the ability of masks to block that transmission. There is robust scientific evidence of both.
“I believe I would not cause someone to die by not wearing a mask,” he concluded.
That response made Walton explode again, asking Goodwyn, “When did you go to medical school?”
Goodwyn said he had not but that his information came from people who had.
“I don’t believe that, frankly,” the judge said.
Walton said he would review Goodwyn’s medical records and handle as much of his case remotely as possible. But when he did meet with pretrial services officers or come into court, the judge said, he would have to wear a mask.
“If you can’t do that I’m going to have no alternative [but] to lock you up and keep you locked up until this case is resolved,” he warned. “They don’t have to put their lives at risk, they don’t have to, and they will not.”
Goodwyn replied, “I understand; I’m not going to do that, sir.” He added that Texas law does not require masks indoors and suggested that the pretrial services officers instead stay six feet away from him.
“I don’t care what the law in Texas is,” Walton shot back. “You don’t make the rules. You will be arrested.”
Other judges in the D.C. courthouse have begun expressing concerns about the spread of the more contagious delta variant and its impact on the docket.
Judge Emmet G. Sullivan said Thursday during a hearing that he had just delayed a trial because of increased transmission.
“It’s a real pain in the neck,” he said.