Roger Gets Stoned by Amy Berman Jackson

I left a comment earlier about the decision by Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the US District Court for the District of Columbia in the Roger Stone case. ABJ denied the Stone motion on Stone’s motion for new trial, and it was scathing. As it should have been.

You might remember the transcript of Stone’s sentencing on February 20, 2020 and his lame motion for ABJ to recuse herself dated February 23, 2020, both of which went nowhere. Then he filed the motion for new trial, based on alleged juror irregularities, which has now also gone nowhere.

Here is the full decision. The whole decision is good, but if you want the court summary, reading the first nine pages will give you all that.

Given that federal courts speak usually in very veiled language, this is pretty blistering. Here are a few choice nuggets, starting off with the main conclusion:

The assumption underlying the motion – that one can infer from the juror’s opinions about the President that she could not fairly consider the evidence against the defendant – is not supported by any facts or data and it is contrary to controlling legal precedent. The motion is a tower of indignation, but at the end of the day, there is little of substance holding it up. Therefore, the request for a new trial will be denied based on the facts and the case law set out in detail in the body of this opinion, and which are summarized briefly here.

Ouch. But here are a couple of more:

Defendant contends that he is entitled to a new trial because this “newly discovered evidence” reveals that the foreperson answered questions falsely on her written juror questionnaire and when she was questioned in the courtroom, and that by doing so, she concealed the fact that she harbored bias against him. He also seeks a new trial based on an allegation that the juror engaged in misconduct during deliberations, tainting the verdict.

It is important to emphasize that the question before the Court is not whether the defense would have taken a different approach towards the juror if had it seen the posts earlier. The trial is over, and a verdict – which was based largely on the defendant’s own texts and emails, and was amply supported by this undisputed evidence – has been returned. At this point, it is incumbent upon the defendant to demonstrate that the juror lied, and that a truthful answer would have supplied grounds for the Court to strike her for cause. Also, a defendant seeking a new trial must establish that the information presented in his motion could not have been discovered earlier through the exercise of due diligence. Only if those criteria are met would one then assess whether the lack of the newly discovered evidence affected the conviction.
The defendant has not shown that the juror lied; nor has he shown that the supposedly disqualifying evidence could not have been found through the exercise of due diligence at the time the jury was selected. Moreover, while the social media communications may suggest that the juror has strong opinions about certain people or issues, they do not reveal that she had an opinion about Roger Stone, which is the opinion that matters.

There is a second reason why Stone’s motion fails: to the extent one could consider any of the social media posts to be inconsistent with the juror’s questionnaire, they do not warrant a new trial because they do not meet the legal test for something that has been “newly discovered.” The information in the motion could have easily been found with the exercise of due diligence: by posing a few pointed follow-up questions in person, or by using the same search engines that quickly brought the public social media posts to light the day the juror identified herself to the rest of the world. The evidence the defense claims was critical was never “concealed” – it was a few clicks of a mouse away.

Again, if interested, read the whole opinion. But at least read the first nine pages of summary, it is worth it.

30 replies
  1. earlofhuntingdon says:

    So far, but only a few mouse clicks away. A much greater distance lies between competent lawyering and political manipulation.

  2. lawnboy79 says:

    So what happens now with the redacted documents?
    Always great reading, keep up the good work, stay the blazes home.

  3. harpie says:

    Roger Stone jurors say they fear for their safety and plead for privacy
    Updated 7:44 PM ET, Thu
    April 16, 2020

    All 12 of Roger Stone’s jurors wrote in a series of powerful, anonymized statements this week that they feel harassed, afraid and do not want more information about them revealed to the public […]
    A right-wing conspiracy theorist and writer [<<< who is this?] is asking to release the questionnaires now publicly. […]
    Jackson […] has not yet decided on the request to release versions of their written questionnaires.

  4. John McManus says:

    Is there a hint there that Stone’s lawyers did not challenge the juror so they had something to bitch about after the inevitable conviction.

      • Philip S. Webster says:

        They were too cheap apparently to hire someone because they admitted to that: it was not something they themselves did.

        Defense Counsel: There were cost associated and logistics associated with it. They don’ t particularly do it themselves, and it just didn’t happen.

        Kind of funny irony here as Stone is one of those sick masters of social media but he didn’t bother checking up on the jurors. He’d gotta be properly rankled at this, his own, oversight; his poor judgement believing in the obviousness of his delusions not requiring him to investigate.

        These sociopaths fully deserve their delusions collapsing on them just as Amy pointed out the falling tower.

        • bmaz says:

          Baloney, the information is easily available and the searches could be done by any secretary. They had a long time to do so, and just didn’t. It would not have cost anything to do a cursory search.

          • vvv says:

            It’s such an obvious thing, I can’t imagine someone didn’t make a deliberate decision – if only out of laziness? – to not do it. I just can’t figure it; it wouldn’t be planned to create an appellate issue, and as the court called out it was just too obvious (from my civil lens I think smacking of malpractice, but they are already apparently arguing “budget” [which might require written instruction?] , which bmaz calls out, as an excuse).
            The only theory I can espouse is that it gives Trump something to claim as a basis for whatever he does next, ex., pardon, commutation, or just fake outrage talking points …

  5. Jo Chase says:

    I worked for a law firm that did trial work. When we were doing jury selection there was a person in the office who would take the names given from the jury pool and do social media screening of everyone on the list we were given. It was routine, part of good trial preparation. To not have done it was almost legal malpractice.

  6. person1597 says:

    “Well, they’ll stone you when you walk all alone
    They’ll stone you when you are walking home
    They’ll stone you and then say you are brave
    They’ll stone you when you are set down in your grave
    But I would not feel so all alone
    Everybody must get stoned”

    • Wajim says:

      Precisely: ” . . . a tower of indignation, but at the end of the day, there is little of substance holding it up.”

  7. Peterr says:

    From ABJ:

    The motion is a tower of indignation, but at the end of the day, there is little of substance holding it up.

    This could be the tl;dr version of the history of the Trump administration to date.

  8. The Old Redneck says:

    Loved this dry-wit comment about the hearing where post-trial juror interviews were conducted:

    The hearing, as the defense predicted, was clarifying.

    It just wasn’t clarifying in the way the defense predicted.

  9. OldTulsaDude says:

    I wonder if it came as a shock to Stone’s attorneys that the same reasoning that works on the viewers of Fox and listeners of Limbaugh – logic based on innuendo, rumors, and cherry-picking – fails miserably in a court of law.

  10. JamesJoyce says:

    Albert Anastasia was kind of lucky. Lucky Luciano had his lawyers filed all
    sort of paperwork to
    get Murder Inc out of jail and saved Albert from chair, then.

    I wonder who foots Roger Stone’s paperwork considering he is probably as broke now, as Albert and Lucky, when incarcerated ?

    Judge is a real Judge. I know a few real Judges

    Stone’s just someone’s weight. Glad Dutch is gone.. He was just as bad as Albert.

    I was thinking about John and what he would be saying…

    He would probably remind us… Stone is a Son of Tricky Richard, which has nexus to alcoholic Joe M.

    The genome can be traced like a virus and its origins.

    In the instant case it would be Jamaica Estates in 1946. I’ve a certain affinity for Henley Rd. I can assure you, the world is actually very small.

  11. Molly Pitcher says:

    Mikey Cohen might be the one who needs to worry about his security outside of the prison more so than Stone’s jury.

  12. Philip S. Webster says:

    The Stone – Tucker interview last night is funny. Did he always blink his eyes like that, in slow motion? …never watched much of him before or Tuck…he looks and talks a little druggy. Qien sabes.?

    Still nice to have the post above; thanks EW, with ABJ’s eloquent reasoning on full display. Love that girl.

  13. Rich in Fla says:

    I attended one year of law school in the early 80’s. Bruce Rogow, one of Stone’s attorneys, was the professor for civil procedure. He was a favorite and a local hero. A constitutional scholar who march for civil rights way back when. More recently he’s been repping wierdos like Stone. I saw his performance in one of the Stone hearings where the judge made him look stupid with simple questions, likely one of the bond/contempt/threat proceedings. Is it age, incompetence, arrogance? I just don’t get it.
    Same with Dershowitz; someone I looked up to as a student, now a pariah.

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