Juror identities must be protected in Stone trial, U.S. judge says

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. judge on Tuesday warned lawyers representing President Donald Trump’s longtime friend Roger Stone to protect the privacy of the jurors who found him guilty ahead of a hearing in which the defense was seeking a new trial.

U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson told Stone’s lawyers and journalists covering the case that the safety of the jurors could be put at risk if their identities are made public. Jackson sentenced Stone last week to serve more than three years in prison in a case that angered Trump and rattled the Justice Department.

Trump has repeatedly criticized the jury forewoman in Stone’s trial, accusing her of being politically biased, and Stone’s lawyers are seeking a new trial on that basis.

“Any attempt to invade the privacy of the jury or harass and intimidate them is certainly antithetical to our entire system of justice,” Jackson said.

Less than an hour later, Trump again criticized the forewoman on Twitter.

“She was totally biased, as is the judge. Roger wasn’t even working on my campaign. Miscarriage of justice. Sad to watch!” Trump wrote.

Far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones previously sought to uncover the identities of some of the jurors but misidentified them on his Infowars show. Fox News host Tucker Carlson is among the conservative-leaning media figures who have mentioned one of the jurors by name.

Stone was convicted of lying to Congress, obstruction and witness tampering in a case that stemmed from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation that detailed Russian meddling in the 2016 election to boost Trump’s candidacy.

One of the jurors came under fire from Trump after she posted a message on social media defending the four career prosecutors who resigned from the Stone case after the Justice Department intervened and scaled back their sentencing recommendation for the self-proclaimed “dirty trickster.” The department’s intervention came after Trump assailed the prosecutors.

Stone’s lawyers have previously said they were reviewing past social media posts by one of the jurors that have been critical of Trump, including one that apparently made a reference to Stone’s pre-dawn arrest in January 2019.

He was convicted of lying to the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee about his attempts to contact WikiLeaks, the website that released damaging emails about Trump’s 2016 Democratic election rival Hillary Clinton that U.S. intelligence officials have concluded were stolen by Russian hackers.

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