by WorldTribune Staff, February 4, 2019
Can Roger Stone possibly get, as the Sixth Amendment mandates, an “impartial jury” of 12 people in Washington, D.C.?
The federal charges leveled against the longtime associate of President Donald Trump by special counsel Robert Mueller mean his U.S. District Court jury pool will come “strictly from deep-blue D.C. boundaries, a place the president calls ‘the Swamp,’ ” Rowan Scarborough noted in a Feb. 3 report for The Washington Times.
Republicans make up 6 percent of registered voters in Washington, D.C. Trump won 4 percent of the vote in 2016.
Trump’s job approval rating among D.C. residents is 12 percent, the lowest in the U.S. and 18 points lower than Massachusetts, his worst polling state, according to the firm SurveyMonkey.
“I think it’s hopeless for Roger Stone to find an impartial jury in Washington, but I’ve lost all faith in the U.S. justice system,” Michael Caputo, a longtime Stone friend and a former Trump campaign adviser, told The Washington Times. “So many leading Democrats have lied about truly serious national security issues. If only Republicans are prosecuted, where can any Republican hope to find justice?”
Sidney Powell, an appeals court attorney who has criticized Mueller’s tactics, told The Times, “It will be impossible for Stone to find an impartial jury in Washington. He should be given a change of venue to some place in the heartland of the country. Washington has become a cesspool of political corruption.”
Stone would be Mueller’s first indicted target to stand trial in Washington.
On the Feb. 1 broadcast Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show, Stone brought up the FBI’s highly-publicized raid on his home as one possibility of a potentially biased jury.
“That was the whole purpose of this raid was to poison a jury, to hold me up as public enemy No. 1,” he said.
Kevin Downing, who represents former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, asked that Manafort’s trial in D.C. suburb Alexandria be moved to Roanoke, Virginia.
“Nowhere in the country is the bias against Mr. Manafort more apparent than here in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area,” Downing said in a motion, noting that Hillary Clinton won 66 percent of Alexandria voters who were bombarded with negative Manafort news for months.
U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III turned down the motion. Manafort was convicted of bank and tax fraud.
Craig Lerner, a professor at George Mason University Antonin Scalia School of Law and an associate independent counsel in the Whitewater affair, said there are steps the defense can take to find impartial jurors.
He notes that the Sixth Amendment requires an “impartial jury of the State and District wherein the crime shall have been committed.”
“It’s possible that the defense will argue that impartial jurors cannot be found in predominantly Democratic D.C., but the prosecution would surely respond that impartial jurors could be identified, screened through the normal selection process,” Lerner told The Times. “It should be noted that a criminal defendant can waive the right to a jury trial. If the prosecution then agrees, there would be a bench trial.”
Stone’s bench trial would be presided over by Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who was appointed by President Barack Obama. Berman said she is considering a gag order on Stone, who has been touring news channels proclaiming his innocence and criticizing Mueller’s “left-wing” prosecutors. Stone said he needs to speak out to fund gigantic legal fees.