Federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson swiftly and scathingly told President Donald Trump’s long-time friend Roger Stone there’s no legal reason he should be able to remove her from his criminal case, two days after he accused her of bias because she said jurors who found him guilty served with integrity.
Stone made the Hail Mary request Friday night for Jackson’s recusal, the day after she sentenced him to 40 months in prison. Meanwhile, the President publicly has been criticizing a juror on his case, attacking the fairness of the judicial system and repeating his sympathies for his ally.
Stone is asking the court for a new trial because of a juror’s alleged partiality, and Jackson is still considering that request.
But in Jackson’s six-page order Sunday refusing her recusal, the judge quickly disposed of Stone’s legal arguments.
Stone had claimed Jackson’s statement at his sentencing – that the jurors on his case “served with integrity”– meant she had already made up her mind on his retrial request.
“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-a-half-hour hearing – did not purport to, and did not address” Stone’s new trial request, Jackson wrote.
“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. 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,” according to Jackson.
The judge also defended her impartiality, noting on Sunday that she has insured fairness for Stone throughout his case, including after he posted a threatening photo on Instagram about her as he awaited trial.
“It granted,” she wrote, writing about her court using the third-person pronoun, “important evidentiary motions in his favor; it proposed utilizing a written questionnaire to ensure that the parties could receive more information than is usually available for jury selection; it struck 58 potential jurors for cause based on the defendant’s motions or on its own motion; and it repeatedly resolved bond issues in his favor, 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. Moreover, at the sentencing hearing that forms the sole basis for the defendant’s motion, the Court concluded, based in part on many considerations put forth by the defendant, that it was appropriate” to sentence him to less time in prison than the Department of Justice asked for and that Jackson had calculated was appropriate for his crimes and behavior.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to accurately explain Stone’s reasoning for requesting a new trial.