Roger Stone’s legal professionals requested a federal decide on Friday to place the kibosh on authorities prosecutors’ plans to point out jurors a clip from “The Godfather, Half II” in the course of the longtime Donald Trump affiliate’s trial later this fall.
In an 11-page transient, Stone’s attorneys argue “the long-lasting Mafia movie of our period” has no place in a courtroom the place it may go away jurors with the impression their consumer dedicated much more egregious crimes than those he’s charged with — mendacity to Congress, witness tampering and obstruction of justice.
“Any reference to ‘The Godfather‘ (no matter which one) brings up a transparent and unalienable connection to the Italian-American Mafia,” the Stone legal professionals wrote. “Any makes an attempt to check the conduct of Stone to that of an alleged mafia member, testifying that he murdered on the orders of ‘the Godfather’ will immediately create a connection within the minds of the jurors that Stone is one way or the other just like a murderous mafioso.”
“That is an inescapable connection that’s undoubtedly an improper use of character proof and is very prejudicial to the defendant. As soon as the door is opened with a film clip, which little doubt will accompany a proof of why it’s being performed, the trial detours to a Mafia trial and Stone’s connection to it, with all of its historical past and folklore,” they added.
Justice Division attorneys who inherited the Stone case from particular counsel Robert Mueller requested U.S. District Courtroom Choose Amy Berman Jackson final month for permission to point out a four-minute scene from the 1974 movie in the course of the trial — which is slated to start Nov. 5 in Washington, D.C. — as a result of it provides “essential context” to the allegations in opposition to the defendant for witness tampering.
Within the clip, a personality named Frank Pentangeli backtracks from delivering blockbuster testimony to Congress in regards to the Corleone crime household. Stone talked about the scene in textual content messages to Randy Credico, a witness within the Mueller probe who had been questioned within the investigation about his contacts with each Stone and WikiLeaks, the web platform that revealed stolen Democratic emails in the course of the 2016 presidential marketing campaign.
Mueller’s indictment accuses Stone of threatening Credico and his pet canine in a textual content message, and he additionally urges Credico to “do a Frank Pentangeli.”
Stone for months has been arguing that the messages to Credico weren’t supposed to be taken critically, and his legal professionals on Friday mentioned the request to point out jurors the film clip amounted to a “stunt.” They observe that Credico is a comic who is thought for his impression of the “Godfather,” mobster Vito Corleone
However greater than something, they argue the clip’s design is “to inflame the jury with threatening Mafia references.” Additionally they embrace, in a footnote defending their case, a report from the Italian Institute of America citing FBI statistics from 2009 displaying “solely 0.00782 % of Italian-People possessed any legal associations.”
“And but, in line with a nationwide Zogby ballot, 74 % of the American public believed that Italian-People have ties to the mob,” they wrote.
Friday introduced a volley of different motions and briefs forward of the Stone trial.
In a single submitting, Stone’s legal professionals informed Jackson they don’t “intend at this level” to make a problem throughout trial of his arrest by federal brokers who used “pointless and extreme drive.” However in addition they mentioned they weren’t ruling out different matters they might increase at trial, together with why Mueller didn’t pursue allegations that members of the Home violated their very own guidelines when questioning different witnesses, which they are saying “would legitimately forged aspersions on the prosecution’s decision-making in deciding to prosecute Stone.”
A authorities movement, meantime, provided extra substantive reasoning for why it objects to Stone’s legal professionals attempting to introduce any proof at trial associated to Russia’s function within the Democratic hacks in 2016. Stone has signaled the congressional probe he’s accused of mendacity to was based mostly on a defective premise that Russia even performed a task within the hacks — some extent that DOJ counters has nothing to do with the costs Stone faces in his personal trial.
“It might create an enormous mini-trial inside a trial on points which might be tangential to the costs, thus requiring vital trial time and risking jury confusion and unfair prejudice with collateral however extremely advanced points,” the assistant U.S. attorneys main the case, Jonathan Kravis and Michael Marando, wrote of their opposition transient.