Judge Imposes Gag Order in Roger Stone Case
(Bloomberg) -- A federal judge has restricted Trump adviser Roger Stone, his lawyers and those working for Special Counsel Robert Mueller from making public statements that could bias the jurors who may ultimately decide the political consultant’s criminal case.
In a four-page order issued Friday, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said the lawyers in the case “must refrain” from making any statements to the media or in public settings “that pose a substantial likelihood of material prejudice to this case.” She further imposed restrictions on “all interested participants in the matter,” including witnesses, from making prejudicial statements on their way into and out of the courthouse.
Stone, a self-styled political dirty trickster, was indicted last month for lying to Congress about his communications with WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange. Stone also was charged with witness tampering and obstructing an investigation. He has pleaded not guilty, and his appearances have drawn members of the press, plus Stone’s fans and critics to the doorways of the federal courthouse in Washington.
Before the ruling, the prospect of a gag order drew objections from Stone, who argued it would violate his constitutional right of free speech. Still, the judge went ahead with the ban after soliciting comment from both sides and accepting a friend-of-the-court brief from Stone ally-turned-enemy Jerome Corsi, the conspiracy theorist and author who last week sued Stone for defamation and civil assault.
Click here to read the gag order
Stone has punctuated his courthouse departures by raising his arms in a double-victory pose evocative of former President Richard Nixon, whose face is tattooed on Stone’s back. The long-time Republican political operative, who last week asked for a new judge in the case, has also railed against the criminal charges in interviews with conservative media outlets.
Taking note of Stone’s actions, Jackson concluded her order with a thinly-veiled warning.
“While it is not up to the court to advise the defendant as to whether a succession of public statements would be in his best interest at this time, it notes that one factor that will be considered in the evaluation of any future request for relief based on pretrial publicity will be the extent to which the publicity was engendered by the defendant himself,” the judge said.
The case is U.S. v. Stone, 19-cr-18, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).
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