Category: Criminal law

Roger Stone Convicted and Bill Barr Vindicated With 40 Month Sentence [Updated]

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Roger Stone has been sentenced to 40 months by U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson. I previously stated that the likely sentence would be half of what the prosecutors originally sought and that is precisely what the court did. The sentence not only completed the conviction of Roger Stone but completely vindicated Attorney Bill Barr on the appropriate length of the sentence. Barr has been unfairly accused of political influence in modifying the original sentence even though many of us denounced the original recommendation as wildly offbase. Not only did over a thousand former prosecutors demand his resignation without knowing the full facts, but one former colleague declared Barr to be “unAmerican.” If these individuals have a modicum of decency, they will acknowledge that Barr was right on the merits of this sentencing recommendation as demonstrated by the court itself.

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New York Man Arrested Three Times In One Day Under New Bail Reform Law

Scott Nolan was arrested and released three times in several hours under New York's new bail reform law.

Just a week after a New York man with 139 arrests was released under New York’s new bail-reform law thanked Democrats, the police union protested another case where a man, Scott Nolan, was arrested three times in one day but released each time under the new law. Nolan’s criminal record is 50 pages long.

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Admission Against Interest? Crime Pays . . . Until It Doesn’t

Donald Murray is not quite as good as his advertising. The Indiana man with a “Crime Pays” tattoo across his forehead has been arrested again after a police chase. He is now facing a windfall of charges for resisting law enforcement, reckless driving, possession of methamphetamine, maintaining a common nuisance and auto theft.

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Juror 1261: Was Justice Undone In The Trial Of Roger Stone

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Below is my column in the Hill newspaper on the controversy surrounding the foreperson on the Stone trial and the discovery of biased public comments made before she was called as a juror. The comments raise very serious questions about not just the inclusion of Tomeka Hart on the jury but the legitimacy of the conviction in light of her participation. Courts are extremely reluctant to set aside verdicts and often deny motions for new trials like the two filed by Stone. However, such disclosures make a mockery of the process — and ultimately the court — if undisclosed bias does not have a remedy for a defendant. No defendant can prove conclusively that such bias made the difference, but no prosecutor can prove that it did not. What remains is a dangerous element of doubt in a criminal trial.

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Suspect Charged In The “Murder” Of His Accomplice By A Homeowner

There is a controversial criminal case out of Danville, Illinois this month where Reggie Haywood, 30, has been charged with first-degree murder stemming from a house invasion. The charge is not strange but the underlying facts are. The person “murdered” was the alleged accomplice of Haywood and he was shot not be Haywood but the homeowner.

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Meet Sidney Kelly: The Style of the Criminal Element

As many on this blog know, I have a certain (perhaps curious) affinity for old mugshots. The latest is from the New South Wales police department of a wonderfully sinister-looking fellow named Sidney Kelly from June 1, 1924. The police caption reads, “Illicit drug trader. Drives his own motor car, and dresses well. Associates with criminals and prostitutes.”

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Bull Meets China Shop: Why The President Tweets Fail Another Causality Test By The Media

Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the Stone controversy. The column suggested that the Trump tweet before the change in the sentencing memorandum in the Stone case may not have been related, but simply another example of Trump triggering a controversy with an irresponsible and ill-timed tweet. After the column, Trump made the situation even worse by publicly complimenting Attorney General Bill Barr. As I mentioned at the time, the “atta boy” was more damaging than the original criticism. Barr responded correctly by criticizing the President’s continued public comments on pending cases and attacks on federal judges. While the President is clearly undeterred, both the change in the sentencing recommendation and the criticism of the President were well warranted.

Here is the column:

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Avenatti Found Guilty In New York Fraud Trial

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Michael Avenatti was convicted this afternoon by a jury of all three charges in the extortion trial related to demands for up to $25 million from Nike. I post this news with a great sense of personal sadness. Michael was one of my students and research assistants. He was an outstanding student and one of the most talented trial attorneys in the country. He now faces two other federal trials and significant jail time.

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“I Have Been Traduced”: Trump’s Moves Against Impeachment Witnesses Are Neither Unlawful Nor Unprecedented

Below is my column in the Washington Post on the continuing controversy over the actions taken against impeachment witnesses by President Donald Trump. I recently explained that these actions are not, as claiming on CNN, clear criminal acts of witness retaliation. While I was critical of the moves, this column addresses why they are neither unlawful nor unprecedented.

Here is the column:

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New Hampshire Man Assaults 15-Year-Old Boy At Republican Polling Site

The Windham Police Department said Patrick Bradley, 34, of Windham, was charged with simple assault and disorderly conduct. (Windham Police Department)

We recently discussed how stories of violence on conservatives and Trump supporters often receive limited attention. The common narrative is that President Donald Trump is the source of violent speech and violent acts in society. The inverse does not fit that narrative. The latest such example is found in New Hampshire where Patrick Bradley, 34, is accused of assaulting a 15-year-old Trump supporter and two adults at a polling site. This follows another college attack on conservatives at the University of California at Santa Cruz.

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Former Trump Chief Of Staff Defends Vindman Over Need To Report Trump’s “Illegal Order”

Former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has defended Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman’s decision to report President Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president. Kelly referred to the call as an “illegal order” that had to be reported. Most of us support Vindman raising his concerns with the chain of command and hopefully Trump will not attack Kelly for stating his support for Vindman. This is a principled and reasonable view of one of our most respected military officers.

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“Gotta love it!”: Major Controversy Erupts Over Undisclosed Alleged Bias Of Foreperson In Stone Trial [Updated]

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There is an interesting new controversy developing around the trial of Roger Stone. This one does not focus on the sentencing of Stone but his trial. New information has emerged that the foreperson of the trial has a long history of highly critical postings against President Donald Trump and his administration. Former Memphis City Schools Board President Tomeka Hart recently went public with her support of the prosecutors who resigned from the case. However, there are now questions of why Hart was allowed on the jury, let alone made the foreperson given her highly critical view of Trump and his associates before being called for jury service. Not only has Hart called Trump supporters like Stone racists but she celebrated a protest that projected profanities on the Trump hotel with the words “Gotta Love It.”

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No, Trump Did Not Commit Criminal Witness Retaliation

I recently wrote a Washington Post column explaining that, while I viewed the moves by President Donald Trump against impeachment witnesses was wrong, it was not criminal as claimed by legal analysts like CNN’s Elie Honig. Yesterday, Honig responded by arguing in a column that he and “other former prosecutors” are quite confident that the action clearly constituted the crime of witness retaliation. While Honig does not actually explain how the President’s conduct specifically violated the stated elements in the federal code, even a cursory consideration of the elements of the crime belie his assertion. Trump’s actions with regard to Vineland and Sondland would not constitute criminal witness retaliation.

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All Four Trial Prosecutors Resign After Stone Sentencing Recommendation Is Rescinded

The resignation of four prosecutors in the prosecution of Trump confidant Roger Stone has set off alarms throughout Washington. Main Justice today countermanded the prosecutors in the D.C. United States Attorneys office in declaring that their demand for seven to nine years imprisonment as excessive. That alone would be serious. However, once again, President Donald Trump’s decision to publicly denounce the recommendation (shortly before the intervention of Main Justice) has raised legitimate concerns over pressure from the White House in favor of a close confidant of the President. It has also magnified the criticism of Attorney General Bill Barr and suggestions that he intervened due to Trump’s criticism. The four prosecutors who had worked on the trial, Aaron S.J. Zelinsky, Jonathan Kravis, Adam Jed and Mike Marando, filed a motion to withdraw from the case. Trump himself denies asking for a reduction in the proposed sentencing, though that is hardly necessary when you are publicly contradicting your own Justice Department. While I have long been highly critical of the Stone prosecution (and specifically critical of this clearly excessive recommended sentence), there are valid concerns raised by this series of events.

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Judge Postpones Flynn Sentencing . . . Again

The Justice Department has secured yet another postponement of sentencing for former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Even though the Justice Department recently dropped its demand for jail time, it appears to be continuing its scorched Earth campaign against Flynn. It is demanding that Flynn waive attorney-client privilege with his prior law firm to allow them to explore his claims of ineffective counsel. Given the dropping of a demand for jail time, the requested additional delay seems gratuitous and retaliatory. Nevertheless, Judge Emmet Sullivan granted the indefinite postponement.

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