Key juror questioned in Roger Stone case
A key juror from Roger Stone’s trial was questioned in court on Tuesday over allegations that she prejudiced the jury that convicted the longtime GOP political operative, with the juror also facing public attacks from President Trump on Twitter.
In a lengthy hearing in a court in Washington, D.C., Judge Amy Berman Jackson brought in the juror, Tomeka Hart, to respond to accusations that she provided misleading answers about her political bias — a claim Stone says justifies a new trial.
Hart said she stood by the answers she gave during jury selection, when she said she could fairly act as a juror in the case. She said in a written questionnaire at the time that she did not remember ever posting about Stone or any other figures involved in the case.
“I was zeroed in about Roger Stone in responding to that question, but I still didn’t remember,” she said Tuesday.
The hearing came as Trump attacked Hart on Twitter. Hart was targeted by the president and conservative media figures after she spoke publicly in support of the prosecutors who had withdrawn from the case after Attorney General William Barr intervened to lower their sentencing recommendation.
“There has rarely been a juror so tainted as the forewoman in the Roger Stone case. Look at her background,” Trump wrote in a tweet Tuesday afternoon. “She never revealed her hatred of ‘Trump’ and Stone. She was totally biased, as is the judge. Roger wasn’t even working on my campaign. Miscarriage of justice. Sad to watch!”
After Hart’s role as the jury foreperson became publicly known earlier this month, several of her social media posts criticizing Trump were uncovered.
Seth Ginsberg, an attorney for Stone, argued that Hart’s lack of candor misled the defense team as he sought to portray her opposition to Trump as evidence of bias against Stone.
Jackson, an Obama appointee, also brought in two other jurors for questioning, both of whom said that Hart did not try to prejudice the panel and did not appear biased. Neither one was identified during the questioning.
“I never had any feeling that she was attempting anything like that,” one of the jurors told the judge.
Another juror said that the foreperson even slowed down deliberations so that the jury could more carefully consider one of the charges.
Jackson said the testimony showed that there was little evidence that Hart had acted improperly on the jury and added that Hart’s political beliefs would not be grounds for a new trial.
“Posts about the president do not constitute bias against the defendant,” Jackson said. “Having an opinion about the president on some or all of his policies does not mean she can not fairly judge evidence against Roger Stone.”
Stone’s attorneys alleged that the foreperson of his trial jury misled the court during jury selection when asked about her social media activity and political beliefs.
“She concealed evidence regarding her views which would have been important for the court and the parties for understanding her bias,” Ginsberg said in Tuesday’s hearing.
“Based on the social media posts, it appears to me that [her answers] are misleading — intentionally,” he added.
Stone was convicted of seven counts of lying to Congress and witness tampering related to testimony he gave in 2017 about his supposed role as a back-channel intermediary between Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and WikiLeaks, which was releasing stolen emails from Democrats at the time.
Last week, Jackson sentenced him to three years and four months in prison. His sentence will be delayed until she rules on his motion for a new trial.
The Hill has removed its comment section, as there are many other forums for readers to participate in the conversation. We invite you to join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.