Special counsel's office wrong to arrest Roger Stone instead of letting him self-surrender

Special counsel's office wrong to arrest Roger Stone instead of letting him self-surrender
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A swarm of armed federal agents wearing bullet proof vests and equipped with battering rams and other riot gear arrested Roger Stone before sunrise Friday morning. Video cameras from CNN were present to capture the show of force.

There was absolutely no good reason to arrest Stone instead of letting him self-surrender like others who have cooperated with the investigation such as Michael Flynn.

It was a complete waste of resources. To execute an arrest like this is not free. Federal agents and local law enforcement (some of whom weren’t being paid because of the shutdown) were tasked with effectuating the arrest.

Instead of using those resources to stop crime, they were diverted for this arrest which served no actual law enforcement function. 

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Stone was not a risk of flight. He is a United States citizen, lives in South Florida, and has known about this investigation for a long time — and speaks openly about it. He has engaged counsel, and his lawyers have said that they offered to surrender him. There was simply no reason to think he would flee if asked to surrender. 

Stone was not a danger to the community. He is not accused of any violent crimes and does not have any violent history.

In fact, the Special Counsel’s office agreed to a personal surety bond. A personal surety bond allows for Stone to be released without having to put up any money or property with a bondsman or the court.

That means that the government agrees that he is not a dangerous person and is not going to run away. 

It undermines the public’s confidence in the Special Counsel. Arresting Stone in this way with the CNN cameras there to watch (even if they were not tipped off) gives ammunition to the President and the Special Counsel’s detractors, who can now say that this is being done for political reasons.

Allowing Stone to self-surrender — like others who have cooperated with the government — would show that the Special Counsel is not going to retaliate or unnecessarily embarrass those who do not cooperate with his office. 

There’s a long and controversial history of the perp walk.

Of course, sometimes arresting a defendant is necessary. For example, if there is a fear that the person will flee or destroy evidence, then an arrest might be appropriate. But here, where Stone knew of the investigation and was not a flight risk, there was no reason to arrest him before the sun came up with guns blazing.

He would have self-surrendered like others who were permitted to do so in this case. 

Instead of instilling confidence in the Special Counsel’s office as neutral and detached, this arrest will give critics of that office a reason to say that it is acting inappropriately and with no real law enforcement purpose.

David Oscar Markus is criminal defense attorney at Markus/Moss in Miami. He previously worked at Williams & Connolly in Washington, D.C., and as an assistant federal public defender in Miami. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School. Follow him on Twitter @domarkus.