Judge refuses to delay sentencing of Trump ally Roger Stone
A federal judge on Tuesday refused to delay sentencing for Trump confidant Roger Stone on his conviction for witness tampering and lying to Congress.
The decision by Judge Amy Berman Jackson came after President Trump tweeted in defense of his longtime ally and said Stone’s conviction “should be thrown out.”
Stone’s sentencing, scheduled for Thursday, comes as his attorneys are requesting a new trial, after Trump alleged “significant bias” from one juror.
Jackson gave U.S. prosecutors until today to respond.
The court developments come as the Federal Judges Assn. plans to host an emergency meeting on Tuesday to discuss the intervention of the Department of Justice and President Trump in the Stone sentencing, according to USA Today.
The group was set to meet later this spring, but its leader, Philadelphia U.S. District Judge Cynthia Rufe, told USA Today the group “could not wait” to discuss the actions of Atty. Gen. William Barr and Trump.
Top career prosecutors initially recommended Stone be sentenced to seven to nine years in prison for lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstructing a House investigation. After Trump described the recommendations as a “miscarriage of justice,” the department indicated it would relax its recommendations, leading all four career prosecutors on the case to resign. One left the department entirely.
Rufe said the conference call meeting would consist of 15 to 20 officers and members of the association’s executive committee, adding that she did not know whether the association would share the results.
The nearly 40-year-old voluntary association advocates for federal judiciary independence.
Rufe told USA Today that the association was “not inclined to get involved with an ongoing case,” but was supportive of U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is presiding over the trial. “I am not concerned with how a particular judge will rule,” said Rufe, who was appointed by George W. Bush in 2002. “We are supportive of any federal judge who does what is required.”
Jackson has found herself the subject of the president’s ire.
Trump last week questioned her treatment of his former campaign manager Paul Manafort, whom she jailed prior to his convictions after he attempted witness tampering.
“Is this the judge that put Paul Manafort in SOLITARY CONFINEMENT, something not even mobster Al Capone had to endure?” Trump tweeted.“How did she treat Crooked Hillary Clinton? Just asking!”
The sealed motion from Stone’s attorneys came one day after Trump tweeted that “it looks like the fore person in the jury, in the Roger Stone case, had significant bias. Add that to everything else, and this is not looking good for the ‘Justice’ Department.”
Former president of the Memphis City Schools Board of Commissioners Tomeka Hart in a Facebook post wrote: “It pains me to see the DOJ now interfere with the hard work of the prosecutors. They acted with the utmost intelligence, integrity, and respect for our system of justice.”
The post gave renewed attention to the forewoman’s social media postings, including some that suggested an anti-Trump bias. Though her identity was not known to the public, it was known by Stone’s attorneys, who had the chance to challenge her participation in the trial during jury selection.
On Sunday, more than 2,000 former Justice Department officials submitted a letter calling on Barr to resign for ignoring the “long-standing practice” of not allowing political influence in legal decisions.
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