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Former Democratic Party lawyer David Schoen suggested that the U.S. District Judge who sentenced former Trump associate Roger Stone to 40 months in prison may have jeopardized the trial by injecting her own personal bias into the proceedings.
“You were there… yesterday,” said Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano to Schoen on Fox Nation’s “Liberty File” on Friday. “You’ve followed the case as closely as anybody not involved in the trial.”
“Did you detect animosity on the part of the judge towards the person of Roger Stone?” the judge asked.
“I was shocked with some of the things she said,” claimed Schoen. “She was very angry. She’s very smart and she knows how to make her record. But she kept on making political statements while disclaiming that this case is not at all about politics.”
The trial was thrown into turmoil last week after President Donald Trump tweeted about the apparent severity of the Justice Department’s sentencing recommendation for Stone. The DOJ eventually lowered their sentencing recommendation and four federal prosecutors on the case resigned in protest.
Then it was revealed that the Stone jury’s foreperson, former Memphis City Schools Board President Tomeka Hart, had repeatedly expressed deeply negative feelings about Stone and Trump on social media.
Jackson rejected requests by the Stone’s defense team to delay the sentencing, though she is currently considering the defense’s request for a new trial over jury misconduct claims.
Schoen, a civil rights and criminal defense attorney, said that after listening to Jackson’s remarks at the sentencing, he believes that she may have provided the defense with even more justification to have Stone’s conviction thrown out on appeal.
“She made this very much yesterday about President Trump,” Schoen continued. “She said that Roger Stone volunteered to testify before Congress because he was afraid the president wouldn’t want him taking the fifth. And that he testified to cover up for the president. It was a very political talk. I was very disappointed.”
“He was not prosecuted, as some have complained, for standing up for the President,” said Jackson during Thursday’s sentencing. “He was prosecuted for covering up for the President.”
In one remark, taken by some commentators to be a reference to President Trump and his tweets on the case, Jackson extolled the virtues of an independent judiciary.
“This case also exemplifies why it is that this system, for good reason, demands that the responsibility falls to someone neutral,” she said. “Someone whose job may involve issuing opinions in favor of and against the same administration in the same week. … Not someone whose political career was aided by the defendant. And surely not someone who has personal involvement in the events underlying the case. The court cannot be influenced by those comments. They were entirely inappropriate, but I will not hold them against the defendant, either.”
“Is the bias of the judge of such gravity that you would recommend to whoever takes the appeal that it be an appellate issue?” pressed the judge, suggesting that Stone’s defense team may point to Jackson’s remarks as evidence of potential bias against their client.
“I would recommend that, especially for this reason, yesterday, she made the comment that the jurors, in this case, showed great integrity and came back with thoughtful questions. … [while] they have a motion pending before her now about the integrity of the jury process,” said Schoen.
The juror in question, Hart, unsuccessfully ran for Congress as a Democrat in 2012. Among the social media messages of hers raising concerns are an August 2017 tweet referring to Trump as a member of the KKK.
In August 2019, Hart called Trump supporters “racist.”
In January 2019, she retweeted a post that suggested that criticism of Stone’s dramatic arrest by more than a dozen FBI agents was driven by racism.
“This juror misconduct… is a very serious issue,” explained Schoen. “The integrity of the system depends on candid answers by jurors, lack of bias or prejudice by jurors and being forthright and really being impartial. Not just saying you can be fair because you want to sit on the jury and stick it to the defendant.”
“If this case is thrown out, as you and I and many, many commentators think it should be,” concluded the judge, “what are the odds the DOJ does not retry Stone?”
“I’d be shocked,” said Schoen. “It would be the wrong thing to do to retry this case.”
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