/Who is Amy Berman Jackson, judge in Roger Stone case who has been criticized by Trump and his allies?
Who is Amy Berman Jackson, judge in Roger Stone case who has been criticized by Trump and his allies?

Who is Amy Berman Jackson, judge in Roger Stone case who has been criticized by Trump and his allies?


WASHINGTON – U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson has been in the spotlight for the past two years, often criticized by President Donald Trump’s supporters and, last week, by the president himself.
The president’s swipe at Jackson, days before the judge is set to decide whether to send Trump’s longtime friend and ally to prison – and for how long – opened the floodgates to more attacks. The legal community came to Jackson’s defense, exalting not only her independence from public and political pressure but also that of the judiciary.
When Roger Stone is set to be sentenced Thursday, eyes will be on Jackson, a former federal prosecutor and daughter of an Army doctor. It will be her moment to show that at a time of entrenched partisanship, the third branch of government doesn’t succumb to political pressure, said Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., who recommended Jackson to the federal bench in 2011.
“She has got to essentially, using this case, vindicate the judiciary system itself, to show that it is entirely independent,” Norton said.
Jackson has presided over many of the criminal cases that sprouted from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, including several that involved Trump’s closest aides and associates.
Judge Amy Berman Jackson presides over the trial of Roger Stone.
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The case against Stone, who was found guilty of seven crimes, including lying to Congress, proved to be the most contentious. What began as a standard Justice Department process of recommending a prison sentence for a defendant erupted into a political crisis as Trump persistently tweeted about the agency’s prosecution of his allies.
In the days leading up to Stone’s sentencing, the Justice Department caused an uproar after it intervened to reduce its prosecutors’ recommendation of up to nine years in prison for the 67-year-old political operative. Four career prosecutors withdrew from the case. One resigned from the Justice Department entirely.
U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell, the chief judge in the court where Jackson serves, issued a rare public statement defending how sentences are determined. “Public criticism or pressure is not a factor,” she said. An association of federal judges scheduled an emergency meeting to discuss concerns about political interference in criminal cases.
By Tuesday, news outlets reported that Attorney General William Barr had considered resigning his post amid a dispute over the president’s tweets criticizing the Justice Department.
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Whatever the events that dominated the news cycle over the past week, “the ball really stops in the judge’s court,” Norton said, citing a Supreme Court ruling that gives judges discretion in imposing sentences.
“She can do anything she wants to do,” Norton said of Jackson, “and that is exactly what I expect her to do.”
Before the federal bench
Jackson, 65, was born in Baltimore. Her father was a Korean War veteran who served in the Army medical corps. Her mother, as she said during her confirmation hearing in 2011, raised her in a household where she was “blissfully unaware that there was anything that I couldn’t do when I grew up as long as I got off the phone and did my homework.”
She lauded her grandparents who came to the U.S. on a boat “with nothing, to escape oppression.” She wore her grandmother’s necklace to “remember the woman who came here, learned the language, became a citizen, was a suffragette, raised three daughters and ran a business.”
Jackson studied at Harvard College and Harvard Law School. She spent the first years of her career as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, where she handled high-profile murder and sexual assault cases. She switched to private practice, handling white-collar cases and civil litigation.
During the mid-1990s, Jackson took a leave from her practice to care for her family. She and her ex-husband, a former Department of Commerce assistant secretary under President George W. Bush, have two sons.
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Jackson returned to work in 2000. A few years later, she and two law partners defended former Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., who was charged with fraud and bribery. The case grabbed headlines after the FBI discovered $90,000 in cash hidden in Jefferson’s freezer. The FBI raided the lawmaker’s congressional office, raising constitutional questions about whether the materials confiscated were privileged.
Jackson and her partners sought to keep the records from becoming public. President Bush stepped in and ordered that the documents be kept private.
“It’s not every day that a lawyer gets his motion granted by the president of the United States,” Jackson told partner Robert Trout, who recounted the conversation during an oral history interview for the Historical Society of the District of Columbia Circuit.
Roger Stone, a longtime Republican provocateur and confidant of President Donald Trump, was convicted of lying to Congress.
‘I am a real person’
During her confirmation hearing for the federal bench, Jackson was asked about judicial temperament.
“Obviously, I have not served as a judge, but I would hope that what my background investigation has revealed is that of all the many things that can be said about me, that I am a real person and I relate to other people from all walks of life,” Jackson said.
“And I think that ability to connect and to understand will inform my judging, hopefully, inform my temperament and help me achieve the goal that I have, which is to rule efficiently, because I think people are waiting for your rulings, and to rule clearly, because I think people need to understand them,” she said.
The Senate confirmed Jackson 97-0.
As a judge, Jackson delivers long explanations of her thinking before she imposes a sentence. During the sentencing hearing of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort last year, the judge gave a withering rebuke of the political operative.
“Saying I’m sorry I got caught is not an inspiring plea for leniency,” she said.
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Manafort’s defense attorney criticized her comments.
“The judge displayed a level of callousness and hostility that I have not seen before,” Kevin Downing said outside the courthouse.
Jackson’s judicial record
Critics of Jackson accuse her of bias against Trump and his associates, noting that she was appointed by President Barack Obama.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson goes into elaborate detail in her rulings.
Her defenders point to her judicial record, saying her rulings have been friendly and hostile to both sides of the aisle.
In 2012, she ruled that the Obama administration overstepped its authority in revoking the permit of a coal mining company. That same year, a New York Times editorial praised her for striking down regulations that allowed some groups to hide their campaign donors.
In 2016, she rejected the Obama administration’s claim of executive privilege to block a congressional committee from obtaining records related to a bungled gun-trafficking investigation code-named Fast and Furious.
She dismissed a wrongful death lawsuit in 2017 brought against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by families of two Americans who were killed in 2012 in an attack in Benghazi, Libya. Larry Klayman, the families’ attorney, called the ruling “intellectually dishonest” and accused Jackson of protecting Clinton.
Ruth Kassinger, who has known Jackson since they were in eighth grade in Baltimore, defended her friend.
“I think her judicial record is one of fair-mindedness. It is impossible that she would act in any way contrary to her duty to impartiality,” Kassinger said in an email to USA TODAY. “Impossible – that’s just who she is.”
It would also be impossible to know Jackson “without being aware of her quick humor and her delight in musical theater,” Kassinger said.
During a ceremony in 2013 for former Chief Judge Royce Lamberth, a group of new judges performed a skit teasing him over his love for Texas, his home state.
Jackson, wearing a purple dress and a cowboy hat, sang a parody of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.”
Contributing: Kevin Johnson
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