Stone Sentencing Controversy Raises Doubts About DOJ’s Independence

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Professor Bruce Green shared his expert opinion on the U.S Justice Department’s decision to reverse its own prosecutors’ recommendations for Roger Stone’s sentence in an article for VOA. Rep. Jerrold Nadler ’78, also referenced in the article, expressed his concerns on the ruling.

For decades, the U.S Justice Department has aspired to serve as a model law enforcement agency that largely operates independent of political influence. Federal prosecution decisions and sentencing recommendations have been made by career lawyers operating under strict rules of conduct, a rarity in countries with a weak rule of law.

Now that image is being severely tested in the wake of the Justice Department’s controversial decision Tuesday to reverse its own prosecutors’ recommendation that Roger Stone, a longtime confidant of U.S. President Donald Trump, receive seven to nine years in prison for crimes unearthed during the Mueller investigation into Russian election meddling. A jury convicted Stone in November of lying to Congress, obstruction of justice and witness tampering.

A letter signed by Nadler and 22 other Judiciary Committee Democrats asserts that Barr “engaged in a pattern of conduct in legal matters relating to the president that raises significant concerns for this committee.”

“The appearance is that it was done either because the president asked to or because [Barr] thought it would be consistent with what the president wanted, not with traditional criminal justice values and traditions,” Green said.  “If that’s the case, then the sentencing is a real black eye for the Department of Justice from the point of view of its independence.”

Read the full article.

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