Roger Stone’s criminal case has barely been before U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington for more than a week, and his defense lawyers are already trying to get a new judge.
Stone’s legal team on Friday questioned the fairness of assigning the case to Jackson instead of randomly assigning it to a judge under local criminal rules. Randomly assigning a judge is an essential element of due process to ensure a fair trial, Stone’s lawyers said in their request for a new judge.
Jackson has been handling many of the cases brought by special counsel Robert Mueller III’s team as it investigates Russian interference into the 2016 presidential election. Prosecutors linked Stone’s case with that of Viktor Netyksho, a Russian named in a separate indictment tied to a hack targeting the Democratic National Committee. The designation of a “related case” gave Jackson the assignment of presiding over the prosecution of Stone.
“At first blush and without the benefit of discovery, there is nothing about these cases that suggests they are suitably related, other than they are both brought by the Office of Special Counsel,” according to Stone’s request for a new judge.
Stone is represented by Bruce Rogow of Fort Lauderdale; L. Peter Farkas of Halloran Farkas & Kittila, Grant Smith of StrategySmith, and Robert Buschel of Fort Lauderdale’s Buschel Gibbons.
Stone has pleaded not guilty to charges that he lied and attempted to obstruct House Intelligence Committee investigators probing Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election and attempted to pressure a witness to lie to the panel.
Jackson is by far not alone in presiding over Mueller cases in Washington’s federal trial court. Other judges either assigned or designated to oversee Russia-related prosecutions including Emmet Sullivan, Dabney Friedrich and Randolph Moss.
In a separate filing Friday, lawyers for Stone objected to any attempt to restrict his speech during the pendency of the criminal case in Washington. His defense lawyers described him as a “writer and speaker” and said any gag order “would serve no compelling government interest.”
“While Roger Stone may be familiar to those who closely follow American politics, he is hardly ubiquitous in the larger landscape of popular consciousness,” Stone’s lawyers said. “An example of how limited and narrow his public presence is, is that Kim Kardashian has 59.5 million followers on Twitter. By contrast, Roger Stone has no Twitter account at all and, thus has no Twitter followers.”
Mike Scarcella contributed to this report.