Roger Stone on Monday asked an appeals court to overturn what he described as a “total speech ban” imposed by the trial judge on him and his family ahead of his November trial.
Stone, who is facing charges of obstruction and of false statements to Congress, was last month prohibited from using social media after repeatedly posting content that ran afoul of the judge’s initial gag order in the case.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson also banned Stone from “having statements made publicly on his behalf by surrogates, family members, spokespersons, representatives or volunteers.”
Stone alleged Monday that the orders violate both his and his family’s First Amendment rights. Joining him in the petition to the appeals court is his wife, his stepdaughter and two of his wife’s cousins.
“[F]amily members could put Roger Stone at risk of his liberty should they voice an opinion as to his innocence, the arrest, the investigation, the case, or the witnesses who the government may offer,” the appeals court filing said, while noting that Berman Jackson fashioned the gag order as part of Stone’s conditions for release on bail.
“At the least, they and Stone would be subject to an inquiry by the court as to whether they were ‘surrogates.’ The family members’ speech is chilled,” Stone said in the petition.
He argued that there was “no evidence, or suggestions of evidence, that there is any likelihood of material prejudice to this case, or any threat to the integrity of the jury pool or a fair trial.”
Stone complained that the gag order comes as he has “been the subject of thousands of articles relating to his prosecution” and that there “have been tens of thousands of hostile-to-Stone articles”
He cited traditional news articles and special counsel Robert Mueller’s recent congressional testimony, as well as a Saturday Night Live skit and an oddsmakers website predicting the chances he’ll be convicted.
Judge Berman Jackson imposed the order restricting Stone’s social media use after, on several occasions, Stone appeared to violate her original gag order with posts to his accounts. He first got in trouble for posting to his Instagram account a photo of the judge herself, with a crosshairs symbol in the background of the image alongside and incendiary caption. She then banned him from commenting on the case or on the Mueller investigation, besides proclamations of his innocence and promotion of his legal defense fund. But Stone continued to post Instagram images that seemed to ignore her repeated warnings.
The current petition to the appeals court asks thats “All the speech restraints placed on Stone and his family” be undone.
Read the petition below:
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