The judge in Roger Stone's trial who sentenced the longtime Trump adviser to more than three years in prison last week has shut down Stone's request that she exit the case before ruling on whether he should get a new trial over a controversial juror.
US District Court Amy Berman Jackson issued a harsh rebuke to Stone's legal team, who accused her of bias when she said the jury in his case served with "integrity," despite the fact that the forewoman - a former Democratic political candidate who despises President Trump - may have lied when asked if she knew who Roger Stone is during jury selection.
"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 on Sunday, according to Politico.
The jury took about a day to unanimously find Stone guilty on all seven counts he faced related to impeding Congressional and Justice Department investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
The recusal motion argued that Jackson evinced bias because during the sentencing hearing Thursday she said the jurors in the case "served with integrity." But in a six-page order released Sunday evening, the Obama-appointed judge said her remark fell well short of the kind of evidence of bias that would require a judge to step aside. -Politico
"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," Jackson continued, noting that recusal for bias typically applies to statements judges make outside of court in unofficial settings.
Totally normal conduct for an impartial judge! https://t.co/foGEDZ8f3H— Jack Posobiec 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) February 20, 2020
"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 wrote.
She added that she wasn't referring to the jury-related comment during her Thursday remark about "integrity," but that even if she was, she was free to comment or rule on it regardless.
"If parties could move to disqualify every judge who furrows his brow at one side or the other before ruling, the entire court system would come to a standstill," warned Berman Jackson.
The order contains more indications that Jackson has grown frustrated with and irritated by Stone's defense team. During the sentencing Thursday, she excoriated the defense over its closing argument, riffing on the refrain of "So what?" that the defense used in its unsuccessful bid to get jurors to acquit Stone. -Politico
"So what? So what? Of all the circumstances in this case, that may be the most pernicious," said Berman Jackson during her almost 45-minute statement last week to the packed D.C. courtroom. "The truth still exists. The truth still matters. Roger Stone's insistence that it doesn't, his belligerence, his pride in his own lies are a threat to our most fundamental institutions, to the very foundation of our democracy."
The truth may still exist, and it may matter - but allowing clearly biased jurors to serve on the trial of a guy you hate is nothing short of a miscarriage of justice.