Roger Stone may have gotten a more appropriate sentence than the one recommended by the Mueller prosecutors, but don’t believe for a minute that means he’ll ultimately get the justice he deserves in the courts. Politico reports that the federal judge presiding over the case “decisively rejected a defense request that she drop off the case before ruling on a pending new trial motion challenging the conduct of a juror at his trial.”
According to U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson, claims of bias against Stone were meritless.
“At bottom, given the absence of any factual or legal support for the motion for disqualification, the pleading appears to be nothing more than an attempt to use the Court’s docket to disseminate a statement for public consumption that has the words ‘judge’ and ‘biased’ in it,” Jackson wrote in her order. “Judges cannot be ‘biased’ and need not be disqualified if the views they express are based on what they learned while doing the job they were appointed to do.”
Stone’s legal team argued in their request for recusal that Jackson showed bias during the sentencing hearing because she said the jurors in the case “served with integrity,” despite revelations that Tomeka Hart, the jury foreperson in the trial, was rabidly anti-Trump and had made public comments on Twitter before the trial against Trump and Stone.
“The defendant has not suggested that the Court said one word about him outside of the courtroom, or to anyone other than the parties, at any time. Its characterization of the jurors’ service was voiced on the record, and it was entirely and fairly based on the Court’s observations of the jurors in the courthouse; through the nine days of voir dire and trial, when they were uniformly punctual and attentive, and through their thoughtful communications with the Court during deliberation … and the delivery of the verdict,” Jackson said.
Jackson was appointed to the bench by Barack Obama. A motion for a new trial due to Tomeka Hart’s bias is still pending. But, if I were a betting man, I would suspect Jackson will not agree to a new trial despite the evidence against Hart. Jackson’s comments about the jury’s performance “based on the Court’s observations of the jurors in the courthouse” suggests she thinks that Hart’s bias was not a factor.
However, according to Judge Andrew Napolitano, Hart’s bias, and her hiding it to get on the jury, is actually very serious. “She obviously had a prejudice against Roger Stone, a bias in favor of his prosecution, and an interest in seeing him convicted,” he said earlier this month If it’s determined that Hart lied in order to get on the jury, Napolitano said she could be prosecuted for perjury and serve jail time, Stone’s conviction could be overturned.
If the defense’s motion for a new trial isn’t granted, it will give Trump plenty of justification for pardoning Stone. It may not be politically popular for him to do so, but when you have anti-Trumpers as judge and jury, it is quite clear that Stone didn’t have the fair trial he was entitled to. I’m not expecting Stone to receive justice through the courts. Based on what we’ve seen so far, it’s up to Trump to give him justice.
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis