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, especially after President Donald Trump and right-wing media criticized them for their conviction of the longtime Trump friend.
“I try to stay away from danger, but now it seems like the danger is coming to me,” one juror, identified as Juror H, wrote in a court filing Wednesday night. “This whole situation blows me away, because all that I expected before the trial was simply appearing for jury duty. I feel that I should be protected for performing my civic duty.”
The jurors are fighting in court to keep private forms they filled out before the trial. They and other prospective jurors had written to the court answers about their employment history and other personal details, so that the attorneys and the judge could vet the jury for bias. A right-wing conspiracy theorist and writer is asking to release the questionnaires now publicly.
The jury forewoman, Tomeka Hart, wrote that she still feels unsafe after the President tweeted about her around Stone’s sentencing date. Hart and another juror, Seth Cousins, who identified themselves to the media after the trial, said they’ve received threatening letters and postcards in the mail from strangers – a veiled threat that implies their home addresses are known.
“It is intimidating when the President of the United States attacks the foreperson of a jury by name,” Juror E, who served with Hart, wrote to the judge.
“I am frightened that someone could harm my family simply because I was summoned and then chosen to serve on the jury,” another juror, called Juror B in the case file, wrote.
Others described how they were randomly selected for jury duty and were proud to fulfill their civic responsibility. Now, they fear for their safety, for their families and their jobs. One juror vowed to never post on social media about the trial or his or her experience with it.
“No one should be allowed to use us – publicizing our lives and maybe ruining our careers – so that they can tweet or post bogus innuendo about this case,” Juror J wrote.
Even if the other jurors’ names aren’t released, the jurors fear they could still be identified widely, they wrote. Two jurors say they receive phone calls they believe might be from people who want to harass them about the case.
“Whenever the topic of this case hits the media, the phone calls increased significantly. I am concerned that the phone calls are just the beginning. If my identity is exposed, I do not know what some people are capable of,” a Stone juror identified as Juror C wrote.
MacArthur Genius grant recipient and cyberstalking expert Danielle Citron, who’s working pro bono for the jurors, also told the judge in the filing Wednesday the Stone juror situation could create cyber-mobs and conspiracy theories as serious as after the Sandy Hook and Parkland shootings and the Charlottesville white supremacy protests.
Around the time of Stone’s sentencing, right-wing personalities and even the President focused on attacking the fairness of his trial.
The jury found him guilty on seven counts last year, for lying to Congress to protect the President and for threatening a witness.
Stone alleged twice that he deserved a new trial because of jurors’ bias.
Federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who sentenced him to 40 months in prison, on Thursday ruled that he did not deserve a retrial. She had also denied an earlier request for a new trial.
In the days around Stone’s February sentencing, President Donald Trump and Stone supporters railed against the jurors, the judge and prosecutors who tried the case.
Stone’s circle has directed much of their criticism at Hart, the forewoman. Just before the sentencing, Hart wrote on Facebook she applauded the work of the prosecutors on the case. She had also posted on social media before the trial about Trump and his supporters, calling them racist.
Hart later testified in court that she had been able to weigh the evidence in the case without bias.
But Trump spoke about her at a political rally and tweeted “there has rarely been a juror so tainted as the forewoman in the Roger Stone case.” He called Stone’s unanimous conviction a “miscarriage of justice.”
Jackson has condemned the harassment and intimidation of jurors in the case, pledging to keep their identities private. The judge has not yet decided on the request to release versions of their written questionnaires.