Roger Stone accompanied by his wife Nydia Stone, left, arrives for his sentencing at U.S. District Court in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020. Roger Stone, a staunch ally of President Donald Trump, faces sentencing Thursday on his convictions for witness tampering and lying to Congress. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Roger Stone’s attorney filed a motion asking that Judge Army Berman Jackson disqualify herself because she made comments that appeared to show she had prejudged their motion as to juror bias when she commented during sentencing that the jury in his case had served with “integrity.”
The judge slapped down the motion, claiming it seemed 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,” according to Fox.
“There is no rule and no case law that would justify the recusal of a judge for bias simply because he or she says something about an issue on the docket, on the record, at some point before a reply has been filed, or before a hearing – which may or may not be required in the court’s discretion – has concluded,” Jackson wrote.
She added: “If parties could move to disqualify every judge who furrows his brow at one side or the other before the ruling, the entire court system would come to a standstill.”
You are, however, not supposed to have prejudged the matter before considering the motion.
Additionally, Jackson made comments during the sentencing that Stone had been “covering up for the president,” something he was not charged with and which seemed to promote the debunked Russian collusion hoax. She did not address concerns raised by some about those remarks and it doesn’t appear the defense brought up those remarks as an issue.
The motion on juror bias is still pending, but it seems obvious how the judge is going to vote since she did the sentencing prior to deciding the motion. There were multiple questions raised about juror bias, but the most prominent issue was juror Tomeka Hart who had multiple social media posts attacking Trump including a tweet calling him a “Klan president” and saying his supporters were racists. She also retweeted a tweet mocking people concerned about the use of excessive force in Stone’s arrest.
It’s unclear whether she truthfully answered questions on a questionnaire that asked about social media posts and if she had expressed opinions about Trump or the case. When questioned by the judge, she indicated that she had not followed the Mueller investigation closely, which seems contradicted by her social media posts. She claimed that she could render an impartial decision.
Stone’s lawyers claimed that an unnamed juror, presumably Hart, “misled the court regarding her ability to be unbiased and fair and the juror attempted to cover up evidence that would directly contradict her false claims of impartiality.”
BREAKING: Judge to hold 2 hearings in Roger Stone case tomorrow. 130PM hearing on whether Stone's juror misconduct motion should be heard publicly or not (he says public). And 2PM hearing on motion itself, closed for now. Here's last night's Stone update: https://t.co/VvDTHMip6y
— Josh "ALL CAPS country name and !" Gerstein (@joshgerstein) February 24, 2020