Lawyers for Roger Stone, the indicted long-time friend and advisor to President Donald Trump, kept it pretty simple on Monday night when filing an apology in court.
Stone, whose Instagram account posted an image of Judge Amy Berman Jackson next to crosshairs before removing that image and replacing it with another image without crosshairs that would also be removed, has apologized to the judge through his attorneys.
“Undersigned counsel, with the attached authority of Roger J. Stone, hereby apologizes to the Court for the improper photograph and comment posted on Instagram today,” Stone’s lawyers said. “Mr. Stone recognizes the impropriety and had it removed.”
The thing that immediately stands out about the response is the distance the attorneys are creating between Stone and the account. He “had it removed” instead of removing it, for instance. Nor do they say Stone posted the photo. They only mention the part where Stone righted the wrong. But they did include a signed apology from Stone on another page where he called this a “transgression.”
“Please inform the Court that the photograph and comment today was improper and should not have been posted,” Stone said. “I had no intention of disrespecting the Court and humbly apologize to the Court for the transgression.”
Stone appeared to have himself released two statements on Instagram after the photos were taken down.
The follow-up post on his Instagram said that the image of Jackson next to crosshairs was “misinterpreted,” that it was a “random photo” from the internet, and that any interpretation that this was a “threat” or “disrespect” is “categorically false.” It should be noted that this controversy happens just three days after Jackson denied Stone’s attempt to remove her from the case. It also happened days after all parties in the case were hit with a gag order.
In both of those follow-up messages were the hashtags #rogerdidnothingwrong.
Even after the apology, those messages are still up. The origins of the photo of Judge Jackson were easily found.
Career lawyers immediately said they’d never seen a filing quite like this one.
I've been doing federal criminal law for 24 years and I've never seen anything like this. This is not normal. pic.twitter.com/S71lkYbPa3
— EmergenHat (@Popehat) February 19, 2019
I've never seen a "notice of apology" filed before. https://t.co/G66a2ZqNmm
— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) February 19, 2019
Someday we may look back in this as the noteworthy first “Notice of Apology” for conduct on social media, presumably something 1Ls in 2069 will learn about 1st semester. https://t.co/qroROFz5IZ
— Orin Kerr (@OrinKerr) February 19, 2019
Still others found it notable in itself that Stone had apologized for anything.
This is really something. An apology from Roger Stone is almost as rare as an apology from Donald Trump. https://t.co/XKpLEthnOs
— Preet Bharara (@PreetBharara) February 19, 2019
While this may not be the kind of filing one would expect to ever encounter, Stone’s attorneys were probably pretty aware of how the Instagram post about the judge was received.
[Image via Spencer Platt/Getty Images]
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