(CN) — Declining to depart the case, a federal judge who praised the integrity of jurors in the Roger Stone trial quickly rejected Stone's motion to disqualify her over the appearance of bias.
Stone filed the motion on Friday evening, just one day after U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson sentenced the political strategist to 40 months in prison.
A longtime ally of President Donald Trump, Stone is also seeking a new trial based on his belief that the jury foreperson was biased against him. He claimed that Jackson's comments on the jury showed that she is unable to fairly rule on that motion.
In a 6-page order Sunday, Jackson refuted those arguments.
"The court's very general comment that 'jurors' served with integrity — three words on the 88th page of the 96-page transcript of a two-and-a-half-hour hearing — did not purport to, and did not address the motion," Jackson wrote.
"There is no rule and no case law that would justify the recusal of a judge for bias simply because he or she says something about an issue on the docket, on the record, at some point before a reply has been filed, or before a hearing — which may or may not be required in the court's discretion — has concluded," she wrote.
She added: "If parties could move to disqualify every judge who furrows his brow at one side or the other before ruling, the entire court system would come to a standstill."
Stone was convicted last fall of witness tampering and of lying to Congress about his contact with WikiLeaks head Julian Assange.
Amid speculation that he intends to pardon Stone, President Trump told reporters last week that he expects Stone to be exonerated.
“I’m not going to do anything in terms of the great powers bestowed upon a president of the United States, I want the process play out, I think that’s the best thing to do,” Trump said. “Because I’d love to see Roger exonerated and I’d love to see it happen because I personally think he was treated very unfairly.”
Stone might have had Trump in mind when he filed the motion to disqualify Jackson. The president has repeatedly supported the motion for new trial and himself attacked the foreperson from Stone’s criminal trial.
Judge Jackson had harsh words for Stone, calling the motion an attempt to gain media attention.
"At bottom, given the absence of any factual or legal support for the motion for disqualification, the pleading appears to be nothing more than an attempt to use the court’s docket to disseminate a statement for public consumption that has the words 'judge' and 'biased' in it."
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