NEW YORK, NY – A juror in Roger Stone’s recent trial and conviction is coming under fire by Stone’s legal team after social media posts have surfaced, authored by the juror in question, that display a sharp anti-Trump, anti-Stone bias, leading to seemingly warranted claims of impartiality and calls by Stone and his lawyers for a new trial.
Stone, a political consultant, author, lobbyist, strategist, and personal friend of President Donald Trump, had been convicted as a part of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference of the 2016 United States presidential election. Stone has been found guilty of lying to Congress, witness tampering, and obstructing, and the four attorneys in charge of his case had recommended that Stone be sentenced to seven to nine years in prison.
However, after the conviction and impending sentencing, President Trump noted on Twitter that he felt both the prosecution and sentencing of Stone were unfair. In addition, the Department of Justice (DOJ) stepped in to undo the sentencing recommendation, deeming seven to nine years “extreme and excessive and disproportionate.” This resulted in the four attorneys in charge of prosecuting Roger Stone to abruptly leave the case.
Stone Juror No. 1261, now publicly identified as jury forewoman Tomeka Hart, was recently revealed to have made several social media posts prior to jury selection that Stone’s defense team are claiming show bias and run contrary to her duties as a juror, according to reports. Hart appeared in the public eye after the announcement of the DOJ’s involvement in Stone’s sentencing recommendation, at which time she made the decision identify herself and to make a public statement defending the four trial prosecutors. People curious about Hart’s interjection into the matter decided to look into her via search engines, and what emerged were numerous posts critical of both Trump and Stone, all made well before she had served on the jury for Stone’s case. None of these posts were disclosed during the jury selection process, reports say.
Among the posts made by Hart – a Democrat lawyer that once unsuccessfully ran for Congress in Tennessee in 2012 – creating controversy include one made on August 19, 2017 where she referred to Trump as the “#KlanPresident,” a likely reference to the Ku Klux Klan. On August 2, 2019, Hart directed a Tweet to Trump supporters that said, “Then stop being racists. Co-signing and defending a racist and his racist rhetoric makes you racist. Point blank.”
She also made several posts referencing Stone; in January of 2019, she posted about Stone’s arrest at his Florida home by armed FBI agents, saying “Roger Stone has y’all talking about reviewing use of force guidelines” and then listing names of black people who have died at the hands of police due to claims of excessive force. She also made posts that described Stone – as well as Trump supporters in general – as racists and cronies of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Despite the clear content of those posts, New York Republican strategist Michael Caputo, a member of Trump’s 2016 campaign staff, stated that he heard Hart claim during the jury selection process that she had no implicit biases against Trump, on whose campaign Stone also worked on.
“She said Donald Trump didn’t interest her that much and felt that she could be fair considering justice for one of his aides,” Caputo said.New York Republican strategist Michael Caputo
And while Hart’s answers on the jury questionnaire are sealed, a court transcript also shows that she answered “no” when asked if anything about Stone’s affiliation with the Trump campaign and the Republican party gave her any reason to think that she couldn’t fairly evaluate the evidence against him.
President Trump complained about Hart on Twitter, issuing the following statement:
Now it looks like the fore person in the jury, in the Roger Stone case, had significant bias. Add that to everything else, and this is not looking good for the “Justice” Department.Donald J. Trump, @realDonaldTrump
Hart’s online conduct is fueling calls for Stone to receive a new trial; however, according to New York criminal defense lawyer Joseph Tacopina – who is unconnected to the Stone case – getting Stone a new case based on Hart’s social media posts most likely won’t be possible.
“Even taking her posts at face value, it doesn’t rise to the level of automatic reversal,” he said, adding that Hart’s social media posts and history of social and political activism could have – and likely should have – been discovered beforehand by Stone’s defense team. However, Judge Andrew Napolitano, a Fox News senior judicial analyst, stated that “it is obvious” that Stone deserves a new trial due to the “inherent bias” displayed by Hart.
“I think almost any judge in the country would order a new trial,” he said, although he added that that Judge Amy Berman Jackson – the judge overseeing the Stone case – would most likely not agree with that sentiment.
Hart’s Facebook page is currently deactivated, but her Twitter account is still active and public. Her LinkedIn profile states that she is currently a senior program officer at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and is a former president and CEO of the Memphis Urban League.