Amy Berman Jackson is the United States District Judge presiding over both Paul Manafort and Roger Stone’s federal cases. She has been serving on the bench since 2011 after the Senate voted unanimously to confirm her.
On March 13, 2019, Judge Jackson sentenced Paul Manafort to an additional 43 months in prison, on top of the nearly 4 years that he received last week from U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis. That brings his total prison sentence to 7.5 years.
This case related to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. She had been expected to impose a stricter penalty than U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III, who sentenced Manafort on March 7 to less than four years in prison on charges including bank fraud. (The sentencing guidelines in that case called for 19 to 24 years). The maximum potential sentence was 10 years; the two conspiracy charges to which Manafort pleaded guilty carried maximum sentences of 5 years each.
Before Judge Jackson handed down the sentence, Manafort apologized to the court, saying that he was “sorry for what I have done.” Reporters inside the courtroom shared that Manafort asked for compassion, and asked the judge to allow him to be with his wife.
The apology did not appear to be enough to sway Judge Jackson. CBS News reporter Steven Portnoy tweeted from the courtroom that Judge Jackson said in part, “It is hard to overstate the number of lies and the amount of fraud and the extraordinary amount of money involved” in the crimes. She reportedly said that Manafort does not deserve leniency and questioned whether Manafort had been truthful with her.
She added that this case was not about potential Russian collusion and therefore that issue was not resolved.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Judge Jackson Made the Decision to Revoke Paul Manafort’s Bail in June of 2018 & Send Him to Prison as He Awaited Trial
Judge Amy Berman Jackson is overseeing Paul Manafort’s case related to the Russia investigation. She revoked his bail and sent him to prison in June of 2018 after prosecutors provided evidence that Manafort had been speaking with at least two government witnesses while he was under house arrest. He was put in a separate wing of the detention center away from other inmates.
During the hearing announcing that she was revoking his bail, Judge Jackson dismissed the notion that her decision was political. The New York Times quoted her as saying, “This hearing is not about politics. It is not about the conduct of the special counsel. It is about the defendant’s conduct.” She added, “This is not middle school. I can’t take away his cellphone.”
In September of 2018, Manafort pleaded guilty on charges of conspiring against the United States and conspiracy to obstruct justice by witness tampering. He also agreed to cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
But in February of 2019, Judge Jackson ruled that Manafort had violated his plea deal by lying to Robert Mueller. She decided that there was enough evidence to show that Manafort had attempted to mislead the Special Counsel about his relationship with Russian political operative Konstantin Kilimnik, who is said to have connections with Russian intelligence.
Manafort was sentenced March 13 in Judge Jackson’s courtroom to an additional 43 months in prison, on top of the nearly 4 years that he received the week prior from U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis. That brings his total prison sentence to 7.5 years.
2. Judge Jackson is Reviewing Whether Roger Stone Violated His Gag Order By Posting Online About His Case
Judge Jackson is also overseeing the case against Roger Stone. He is facing charges including obstruction, witness tampering and making false statements to Congress as part of Robert Mueller’s investigation. She could decide to put him behind bars for allegedly violating the terms of his gag order.
The issue goes back to February 18, 2019, when Roger Stone posted a photo of Judge Jackson that included crosshairs near her head, in the top left corner. Stone deleted the picture and reposted it without the crosshairs, before deleting it again.
Stone appeared to accuse Judge Jackson of being corrupt and unfairly biased against him in the caption. He wrote, “Through legal trickery Deep State hitman Robert Mueller has guaranteed that my upcoming show trial is before Judge Amy Berman Jackson, an Obama appointed Judge who dismissed the Benghazi charges against Hillary Clinton and incarcerated Paul Manafort prior to his conviction for any crime.” He included a hashtag that read, “Fix is in.”
That message led to Judge Jackson’s decision to tighten Stone’s gag order. In court on February 21, Stone admitted it had been a lack of judgment to post it and claimed the image was a Celtic symbol. But Judge Jackson decided that the post could have incited others to violence. She barred him from speaking to the media about his case or posting about it on social media. Judge Jackson warned that violating the gag order would mean immediate detention and that he would not get a third chance.
On March 4, prosecutors alerted Judge Jackson to an Instagram post sent from Stone’s profile the previous day. It includes the words “Who framed Roger Stone?” with his image underneath. The second issue was about the re-release of Stone’s book, “The Myth of Russian Collusion.” The book contains a new introduction that slams Mueller and the investigation as a witch hunt. He wrote the introduction before his arrest in January and the book was published before the complete gag order was imposed.
Judge Jackson criticized Stone and his attorneys in court on March 5. She wrote in a court filing, “It does not matter when the defendant may have first formulated the opinions expressed, or when he first put them into words: he may no longer share his views on these particular subjects with the world.” She also slammed his legal team for failing to tell her about the book until after its release. Judge Jackson has not yet ruled on whether the book and the Instagram post constitute a reason to put Stone behind bars to await trial.
3. Judge Jackson, Who Was Nominated By President Obama, Ruled Against His Administration on the ‘Fast and Furious’ Case
Judge Amy Berman Jackson’s time on the court has included multiple high-profile cases. In 2016 she ruled against the Obama administration in the “Fast and Furious” case. She decided that the administration could not invoke executive privilege in order to keep documents related to the operation away from Congress.
Operation Fast and Furious was designed as a sting to track suspects believed to be involved with drug cartels in Mexico. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and other law enforcement agencies allowed thousands of illegal gun sales to go through between 2009 and 2011. The idea was to follow the weapon and identify cartel associates.
It was later discovered that two weapons linked to the operation were used during the killing of a Border Patrol agent named Brian Terry. Lawmakers opened investigations into Operation Fast and Furious. In 2012, the House voted to hold then-Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for refusing to hand over documents related to the case. A lower court ruled that the documents should remain secret.
But on January 19, 2016, Judge Jackson sided with Congress. She ordered the Obama administration to release thousands of pages of documents to lawmakers. Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who served as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee at the time, praised the decision as an “important step forward.”
4. Judge Jackson Dismissed Two Lawsuits Against the Office of Personnel Management Over Massive Data Breaches
Another high-profile case Judge Jackson presided over involved the Office of Personnel Management. The federal office announced in 2015 that it had been the victim of a cyberattack. An estimated 22 million people’s personal information had been compromised in the data breach.
Judge Jackson ruled on the side of the government and dismissed two cases, one of which was filed by a government employee. The second was a class-action lawsuit. She argued that the plaintiffs did not prove that they had suffered actual harm due to the breach.
5. The Senate Voted Unanimously in 2011 to Put Amy Berman Jackson on the D.C. District Court
Judge Amy Berman Jackson has been on the bench at the D.C. District Court since March of 2011. The Senate vote to appoint her to that position was 97-0. At that time, the Senate was made up of 51 Democrats, 47 Republicans, and 2 Independents.
Before her appintment to the bench, Jackson worked in private practice, according to her District Court bio. She was an attorney at Trout Cacheris in Washington, D.C. Prior to that, she was a partner at Venable, Baetjer, Howard, and Civiletti.
Jackson earned her law degree from Harvard. One of her classmates was current Chief Justice John Roberts. After graduating, she served as a clerk for Judge Harrison L. Winter at the 4th District Court of Appeals. Her resume also includes working as a Assistant United States Attorney, where she prosecuted murder and sexual assault cases.
As referenced above, Judge Jackson is also overseeing the Paul Manafort case. She ruled earlier this month that Manafort had violated his plea agareement and lied to the Special Counsel about his Russian contacts. Manafort is scheduled to be sentenced on March 13. CBS News reported that this means the Special Counsel no longer needs to support a reduced sentence. Manafort faces ten years in prison on conspiracy charges.
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