Roger Stone, a longtime friend and associate of President Donald Trump, was convicted in late 2019 of lying to Congress, obstructing an investigation, and witness tampering — and this week, he was finally sentenced to 40 months in federal prison.
The sentencing came amid allegations from Stone that at least one member of his jury was biased against him, allegations that prompted calls for a new trial for the Trump associate, who has long blasted the judge in his case for treating him unfairly. Now, Stone’s lawyers are moving to disqualify the judge after she ignored their client’s concerns over possible bias and proceeded with the sentencing anyway, The Hill reported Saturday.
Allegations of bias
Stone first alleged prior to his sentencing that the jury foreperson on his case had a history of making anti-Trump — and anti-Stone — statements on social media and elsewhere both before and after the trial.
But Obama-appointed D.C. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson appeared to ignore such allegations, even going so far as to assert that all members of the jury in Stone’s trial “served with integrity.”
During an argument with Stone’s attorneys at the sentencing hearing about the severity of the Trump associate’s crimes, Judge Jackson reportedly riffed, “Sure, the defense is free to say, ‘So what? Who cares?’ But I’ll say this: Congress cared.
“The United States Department of Justice and the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia that prosecuted the case and is still prosecuting the case cared,” she added. “The jurors who served with integrity under difficult circumstances cared. The American people cared. And I care.”
The integrity of a juror
Stone’s attorneys keyed in on Jackson’s apparent defense of the allegedly biased juror in a motion to disqualify the judge from the case.
“Stone’s Motion for New Trial is directly related to the integrity of a juror,” the attorneys argued, according to The Hill. “It is alleged that a juror misled the Court regarding her ability to be unbiased and fair and the juror attempted to cover up evidence that would directly contradict her false claims of impartiality.”
The juror in question is a liberal activist named Tomeka Hart, who, according to The Hill, wasn’t afraid to make her dislike of the president and his associate known publicly.
Hart confirmed in a social media post that she was the foreperson on the jury in Stone’s trial and went on to defend the four prosecutors who quit Stone’s case after the Justice Department overruled their initial recommendation of up to nine years in prison for Stone, a 67-year-old man with no prior convictions.
Hart had also made a number of anti-Trump posts to social media prior to the trial, according to Fox News — including tweets that referred to Trump as #KlanPresident and a since-deleted post that reportedly celebrated the controversial pre-dawn raid and arrest of Stone by the FBI in January 2019. Incredibly, it appears none of that the social media posts were brought up when Hart was selected for the jury and subsequently swore to be an unbiased juror.
According to The Hill, “Stone’s sentence will be delayed from going into effect until after [Jackson] rules on his motion for a new trial.”