I previously wrote that I thought that the motion to disqualify Judge Amy Berman Jackson filed by the Roger Stone defense team was exceedingly weak and should not have been filed. Jackson has now rejected the motion, but the final line of the opinion is a real stinger. The judge effectively accuses the team of filing a frivolous motion to pander to the public. It was ill-conceived and poorly executed motion that only further alienated the court.
In the opinion below, Jackson destroys the claims on a factual and legal basis. On the facts, she makes short work of the defense argument:
First of all, the Court did not make any “finding” about the pending motion for a new trial, much less a “categorical” one. The motion raises questions concerning the completeness of one juror’s responses during the jury selection process, and it speculates about exposure to prejudicial extra-record material during deliberations. See generally Def.’s Mot. for New Trial. But it does not include any allegations, or set out any facts, impugning the integrity of any other juror or jurors. The Court’s very general comment that “jurors” served with integrity – three words on the 88th page of the 96-page transcript of a two-and-a-half-hour hearing – did not purport to, and did not, address the motion.
However, it is the final line of the opinion that is the one that leaves a mark:
At bottom, given the absence of any factual or legal support for the motion for disqualification, the pleading appears to be nothing more than an attempt to use the Court’s docket to disseminate a statement for public consumption that has the words “judge” and “biased” in it.
That is not subtle. It is saying that this was a meritless filing that misused the docket for a sensational statement crafted for public consumption. The appellate court would likely agree. Given the strength of the issue on jury bias (whether or not it proved successful), this motion only served to undermine the credibility of the defense team generally and the new trial motion specifically.