The federal judge who sentenced Roger Stone to prison last week issued a scathing opinion Sunday night denying his request that she recuse herself from ruling on his motion for a new trial.
In the harshly-worded opinion, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson scolded Stone’s legal team for filing what she described as a “meritless” claim for the sole purpose of ginning up headlines.
“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,” Judge Jackson wrote in the six-page order.
Late Friday Stone’s defense team filed a motion requesting Judge Jackson recuse herself from ruling if he should receive a new trial because a juror allegedly hid her bias against Stone.
Moments before Judge Jackson handed down Stone’s sentence on Thursday afternoon, she praised jurors as serving “with integrity under difficult circumstances.”
Stone’s attorneys said such emphatic statements prove Judge Jackson has prejudged his new trial bid.
In the opinion Sunday, Judge Jackson defended her impartiality saying she insured fairness for Stone throughout his case, even when he posted a threatening photo of her Instagram last year.
Judge Jackson said she granted “important evidentiary motions in his favor,” struck 58 jurors for cause based on the defendant’s motion, resolved bond issues in Stone’s favor.
She noted these rulings favored Stone “even after he took to social media to intimidate the Court, after he violated conditions imposed by the Court, after he was convicted at trial and after he was sentenced to a term of incarceration,”
Judge Jackson ruled that concluding jurors “served with integrity” is not evidence that she has made up his mind about whether to grant Stone a new trial.
“The court’s very general comment that ‘jurors’ served with integrity — three words on the 88th page of the 96-page transcript of a two-and-half-hour hearing — did not purport to, and did not address,” Stone’s new trial request,” she said.
“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,” she wrote. “If parties could move to disqualify ever judge who furrows his brow at one side or the other before ruling, the entire court system would come to a standstill.
Judge Jackson had her impartiality questioned by Stone supporters last week. Even President Trump took to Twitter to say that she was biased against Stone.
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