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CEO DATELINE – Bar association reiterates support for judicial independence following Trump remarks

Feb. 13, 2020
By Walt Williams

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The American Bar Association has issued an apparent rebuke of President Donald Trump by reiterating its support for judicial independence after the president seemingly intervened in criminal case involving one of his closest allies.

On Tuesday, Trump tweeted that Attorney General Bill had taken charge of criminal prosecution of Roger Stone, a longtime friend of the president charged with making false statements and witness tampering in the investigation into Trump’s alleged ties to Russia. The Department of Justice surprised many legal observers earlier this week by recommending Stone receive a lighter sentence than what the prosecution recommended, leading to all four prosecutors requesting that they be removed from the case. Trump also lashed out at the judge in the case in a separate tweet.

ABA President Judy Perry Martinez didn’t specifically mention the president or the case in a statement released Wednesday, but the timing and subject matter suggests the group was responding to recent developments.

“The American Bar Association steadfastly supports judicial independence and the sound exercise of prosecutorial discretion,” Martinez said. “Public officials who personally attack judges or prosecutors can create a perception that the system is serving a political or other purpose rather than the fair administration of justice.

“It is incumbent upon public officials and members of the legal profession, whose sworn duty it is to uphold the law, to do everything in their power to preserve the integrity of the justice system,” she added.

The White House has had a contentious relationship with ABA, which conservatives accuse of supporting left-wing policies. In 2017, the administration informed the association it would end the long-standing practice of having ABA review presidential appointments to judicial openings.