Prominent Lawyers Criticize ABA’s Weak Response to the DOJ, Roger Stone Scandal; Urge Action
BOSTON – The Steering Committee of Lawyers Defending American Democracy (LDAD), today released a letter urging the ABA to reconsider and amplify its response to the Roger Stone sentencing scandal.
The letter comes in response to ABA President Judy Perry Martinez’s February 12 Statement Re: Judicial independence and sound exercise of prosecutorial discretion.
“As lawyers, we have an obligation to forthrightly acknowledge and oppose threats to the rule of law. The ABA’s [February 12] statement is a disappointing response to the actions taken by the President and Attorney General Barr to interfere in the sentencing of Roger Stone, which we believe represents a grave threat to the rule of law and to the public’s confidence in the Department of Justice,” states LDAD Chairman Scott Harshbarger.
The letter by LDAD specifically takes issue with the ABA statement’s vagueness and failure to describe the circumstances surrounding its release. Although it makes no reference to the reason for its issuance, the ABA statement was published one day after the President and Attorney General’s widely criticized calls for leniency in the sentencing of Roger Stone. Stone was today sentenced to 40 months in federal prison for obstructing Congress’ Russian investigation. This is significantly shorter than the 7-9 year original sentence recommendation of the federal prosecutors who resigned due to DOJ interference.
“The ABA is ducking its responsibility to uphold and defend the essential principles of our justice system with this statement. The ABA statement does not call out the President and Attorney General for their willingness to sacrifice the independence and integrity of the DOJ, and also fails to explain to the American people that these actions are an abuse of power that poses grave dangers to the exercise of fair and equal justice,” Harshbarger continues.
At the same time, LDAD applauds statements by the New York City and Boston Bar Association, released last week, which include strong warnings about the implications of the DOJ action in the Stone case for the public’s confidence in the Department of Justice and the rule of law.
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About Lawyers Defending American Democracy
Lawyers Defending American Democracy is a group of more than 1,000 lawyers, judges and legal scholars from around the country. Steering Committee Members include:
Scott Harshbarger, Chairman – Former National President of Common Cause and two-term Attorney General of Massachusetts
Fernande (Nan) R.V. Duffly– Former Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
Charles Fried – Former United States Solicitor General in the Reagan Administration, 1985-89*
James F. McHugh – Former Associate Justice, Massachusetts Appeals Court
Lois Schiffer – Former Assistant Attorney General, Environment and Natural Resources Division, US Department of Justice and former General Counsel, NOAA
Laurence H. Tribe – Carl M. Loeb University Professor of Constitutional Law, Harvard Law School*
Lisa Weissler – Retired Assistant Attorney General of Alaska
*supporter and signer of the letter to the ABA; not an official Steering Committee member