Justice Is No Longer Blind

13 February 2020


Cogito Ergo Non Serviam

Stone Prosecutors Quit over Political Interference


Roger Stone is a friend of President Donald Trump, a relationship going back decades. A federal cout has convicted Mr. Stone of seven charges including witness tampering, obstruction of justice and lying to Congress. Prosecutors told the court on Sunday that he should face 7-9 years in prison. The president tweeted a protest that evening, and on Monday, the Department of Justice amended the sentencing memo favoring a lesser sentence. The four prosecutors have withdrawn in protest of this political tampering, and one of them has left the DoJ completely. The politicization of the legal system continues.

The process for post-conviction handling of a legal case in the federal system is quite straightforward. The US Probation Office and the Pretrial Services Office assess the severity of the crimes of which the defendant stands convicted, and they apply standard formulae to come up with sentencing guidelines. Then, those are reviewed by the prosecution, which then submits to the judge the sentence they believe is fair. The judge is free to impose whatever sentence he or she chooses despite these suggestions. In fact, in the case of a first-time offender like Mr. Stone, the sentence is often less than the recommentation from the prosecution.

In this instance, the formulae said that Mr. Stone should spend 7-9 years in prison. Everyone in the process agreed. The prosecution submitted a 26-page memo to the court supporting this and explaining the reasoning as well as the application of the facts to the sentencing formulae. Then, Mr. Trump tweeted.

Suddenly, the DoJ decided to reverse itself. It filed a four-page memo that did not even suggest a range for the term of imprisonment on Monday. The professional prosecutors found they had been under-cut. So all four members of the prosecution team withdrew from the case, and one of them left the DoJ.

It is clear that the Attorney-General acted on the president's tweet (which no doubt reflected his irritation that his criminal friend would have to go away for so long). Nothing else had changed, and the amended memo showed up in a very big hurry.

The House has demanded that Attorney-General William Barr testify under oath about this sorry incident. He has agreed, but not until March 31. Mr. Stone faces sentencing next week. One anticipates that Mr. Barr will invoke executive privilege to avoid telling the truth about his political manipulation of the legal system to make the president happy.

The matter is now down to two people: Judge Amy Berman Jackson and President Trump. The judge is not bound by the recommendations, and as noted above, judges often go easier on first-time offenders. That calls into question the wisdom of amending the memo. If Mr. Stone was not going to get 7 years, what was the point of complaining? There was no point; it is simply in Mr. Trump's character to whine. Be that as it may, the judge could well send Mr. Stone away for 9 years. It is almost certain that his defense team will appeal that as vindictive, but without a proposed range in the amended memo, it is hard to argue that 9 years is inappropriate.

Ultimately, though, Mr. Trump has the power to pardon Mr. Stone, and after the general election in November, there will be no penalty at all for him doing so. Keeping Mr. Stone out of prison until then is the only objective his side has, and with appeals of the sentence looming, he might not serve a day in the clink.

Justice in America is no longer blind, and that is why the four prosecutors have withdrawn. Some people still have a conscience.

© Copyright 2020 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.

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