In theory, Stone still could seek habeas relief for his claim of juror misconduct. But the quoted comments suggest that won't happen, as that best-case scenario still would be a second trial in the same courtroom.President Donald Trump had already commuted Stone’s sentence.
Longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone has unexpectedly dropped the appeal of his seven federal felony convictions for seeking to thwart a House investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Stone’s lawyers submitted a notice to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit withdrawing the appeal Monday night, about a month after President Donald Trump spared Stone a 40-month prison term and a $20,000 fine by commuting his sentence.
The court submission came less than an hour before a midnight deadline Stone’s attorneys faced to file their first brief laying out their grounds for challenging Stone’s convictions and seeking a new trial.
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In a statement posted on his website, StoneColdTruth.com, Stone said he had decided there was little to be gained by pressing on with an appeal.
“It is time for me to move on with my life with my family, friends, and supporters. I regret not going forward with the appeal to fully expose all that happened, with the hope that by doing so, I could help prevent it from happening to anyone else ever again; but I had to decide based on what is best for me and my family,” Stone wrote. “The political taint that exists in the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, from the prosecutors to the judge to the jury pool, is so deep and abiding that the possibility of achieving a just result on the merits is as nonexistent as it was when this process played out the first time.”
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A lawyer for Stone, David Schoen, said Stone concluded there was no practical benefit to pursuing the appeal.
“The nutshell reason is that Mr. Stone concluded [that] the judicial process at least insofar as his case is concerned has become too politicized for him to have any confidence that he would get a fair hearing in the court of appeals and if he did and were to win his appeal he would go right back to the same trial judge who he and his original lawyers concluded would never give him a fair trial,” Schoen told POLITICO.
And there's also risk: A new trial could happen under a new administration, one that wouldn't commute Stone's second sentence. And the judge might rule the communtation didn't apply to the second sentence. Then Stone would have to argue the commutation of the first sentence also applies to the second sentence. A reasonable argument, but one that would take time and money.