On November 15, 2019 Trump advisor Roger Stone was convicted by a jury for obstruction, witness tampering and making false statements. The trial lasted a week and there were two days of jury deliberations. Prosecutors argued that Stone deserved a longer sentence because of his threats of violence against against witnesses, and Judge Amy Berman Jackson recommended seven to nine years. That’s when Trump and Barr stepped in, and Stone was sentenced on February 20, 2020 to only 40 months of jail time.
Stone responded by requesting that Jackson withdraw from his case, hoping that a new Judge would preside over the hearing on his motion for a new trial. Stone’s lawyers made the weak argument that Jackson betrayed impartiality by saying that the jurors had “served with integrity under difficult circumstances.” Jackson denied these accusations, insisting she carefully considered all of Stone’s requests with complete impartiality. Jackson refused to withdraw and scheduled a hearing to decide whether the motion for a new trial would be heard in a closed or open courtroom.
In their motion for a new trial, Stone claimed that juror Tomeka Hart was biased and “could not be fair” to Stone due to her hatred of President Trump. The defense only became aware of Hart’s anti-Trump social media posts a week before Stone’s sentencing. It’s a stretch to say that hating Trump made her unfair to Stone, but in our current political climate it’s not a completely ridiculous assumption. People are even accused of exaggerating pandemics for political purposes. Meanwhile, all this legal maneuvering is happening in the shadow of speculation that Trump will jump in and pardon Stone, rendering all the proceedings moot.
Tune in to Radio Law Talk as we continue to explore the Roger Stone case.