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 May 16, 2024

6th Circuit Court Indicates Possible New Trial For Whitmer Kidnapping Suspects

The 6th Circuit Court has signaled a willingness to review the exclusion of certain statements in the trial of Barry Croft and Adam Fox, potentially setting the stage for their third trial. These two individuals were convicted in August 2022 for their involvement in a plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

In April 2022, the initial trial for Croft and Fox ended in a hung jury, prompting a second federal trial. They were found guilty in this subsequent trial, largely based on the evidence permitted by the court at that time.

New York Times Reporter Ken Bensinger reported that during oral arguments on May 2, the 6th Circuit displayed openness to the defense's arguments regarding the exclusion of hearsay evidence. This excluded evidence consisted of statements from non-testifying individuals, including FBI informant Stephen Robeson.

Judge Robert J. Jonker had earlier deemed these statements inadmissible as hearsay, influencing the trial's outcome. The defense argued that this decision impacted the fairness of the proceedings.

In response to these concerns, the 6th Circuit sent a letter to defense counsel and prosecutor Nils Kessler, inquiring whether the exclusion of this hearsay was prejudicial to the defendants. The letter requested detailed information on the evidence that was excluded and admitted, along with its potential impact on the trial.

Legal Implications of Hearsay Evidence

The court has provided the involved parties two weeks to gather and submit this information.

This request is critical as it will help determine whether the excluded evidence could have influenced the jury's decision.

If the court finds the exclusion of the evidence prejudicial, it could order a new trial. Such a decision would not only impact Croft and Fox but also set a significant precedent regarding the handling of hearsay evidence in similar federal cases.

The implications of this are vast, potentially affecting future legal proceedings and the interpretation of hearsay rules in courtrooms.

The possibility of a third trial hinges on the court’s upcoming decision, which is eagerly awaited by both legal experts and the public alike. The outcome could lead to a significant reversal in a high-profile federal case.

This case has captured national attention, highlighting the intense scrutiny and complexities involved in legal battles over federal crime allegations, especially those involving plots against public officials.

The 6th Circuit's decision could serve as a pivotal moment in the legal narrative surrounding political kidnapping plots, emphasizing the delicate balance between protecting public figures and ensuring a fair legal process for the accused.

Broader Impact on Federal Trials

As the legal community watches closely, the ramifications of revisiting the hearsay evidence exclusion are discussed in broader circles, considering how precedent-setting decisions affect future judicial processes.

This case’s potential retrial could recalibrate the boundaries of what is considered permissible evidence in the courtroom, particularly regarding hearsay and the role of informants.

The review of such exclusions by the 6th Circuit underscores the ongoing debate over the fairness and transparency of the judicial system in high-stake cases.


In summary, the 6th Circuit's readiness to reconsider hearsay evidence exclusions has introduced the possibility of a third trial in the Whitmer kidnapping case. Barry Croft and Adam Fox's convictions could be re-evaluated if the court finds the exclusion of evidence prejudicial.

This development reflects the complexities and challenges in managing hearsay evidence within federal trials and underscores the potential for significant legal precedents.

Written By:
Christina Davie

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