Friday, February 22, 2019

(False) Bravado

Roger Stone posted a picture of Amy Berman in which the Judge's head appeared in front of what appeared to be the crosshairs of a rifle scope, accompanying a post in which he

called special counsel Robert Mueller a “Deep State hitman,” who guaranteed through legal trickery that Stone’s upcoming “show trial” would be before Jackson. He then noted that Jackson was appointed by former President Obama, had dismissed the Benghazi charges against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and incarcerated former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort prior to his conviction.

Even women can play the tough guy. The Washington Post notes

A federal judge on Thursday ordered that longtime Republican operative and Trump confidant Roger Stone may not speak publicly about the investigation or case against him.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington said it would be “foolhardy” to wait for Stone to transgress again in the wake of an Instagram post that appeared to show her photo near crosshairs. The post suggested both she and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, whose office brought the case against Stone, were biased.

“I’m not giving you another chance,” Jackson told Stone. “I have serious doubts whether you’ve learned any lesson at all.”

If he violates the order in any way, Jackson warned, she will order him to jail.

Stone accused the Judge of being biased and presiding over a show trial, also convincing Jackson that he was

“fanning the flames” and “chose to use his public platform . . . to incite others who may be less constrained.” Alluding to the charges against a Coast Guard lieutenant accused of plotting a terrorist attack, she said Stone’s post could have sparked violence: “You don’t have to read the paper beyond today to know that that’s a possibility.”

He has surely learned a lesson, now realizing that he can do all that and receive a stern lecture. Mimi Rocah, formerly a US Attorney with the now-famous SDNY and currently an NBC and MSNBC legal analyst, reflects the common, conventional wisdom now making the rounds:
This is a rather benign view of hell.  According to The New York Times, Jackson's

new order imposes the same restrictions on him that she has placed on lawyers in the case.

“From this moment on, the defendant may not speak publicly about this case — period. No statements about the case on TV, radio, print reporters or internet. No posts on social media,” Judge Jackson said. She said her order also applied to surrogates who might speak on Mr. Stone’s behalf.

She said Mr. Stone could continue to seek donations to his legal defense fund, but could note only that he had pleaded not guilty — without commenting on the judge, the prosecutors, the witnesses or anyone involved in the case.

Rocah should be familiar with the tough guy act many judges put on, and should understand that not speaking publicly about a criminal case is common among criminal defendants, rarely referred to as "hell."  Nor is it a hardship to be able to pull down the tidy sum of $47,000 as a communications consultant, as had Stone.

Admittedly most defendants are not encumbered with the same notoriety nor advantaged with friends in high places (in this instance, the President) as is Stone.  Nonetheless, remaining silent about a criminal case is routine, and even typically recommended by the defense attorney.

Investigative journalist and author David Cay Johnston, though mistakenly believing race and religion play a role, understands the role of privilege and wealth in this case more than do the vast majority of legal analysts and broadcast journalists. He tweets
Were Johnston to eliminate "especially," he'd have it nailed. The talking heads on cable television (and, sadly, probably on network news and in print journalism) need a primer in recognizing judicial grandstanding.

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