Friday, April 08, 2016

Could Roger Stone Face Criminal Charges For "Days Of Rage" GOP Convention Threat?

by JASmius

Well, he has generally threatened to lead the Trumplican mob to the specific hotel rooms of Trump-pledged delegates who desert the pompadoured prince after the first convention ballot and "let nature take its course".  But seeing as how not all of the actual delegates have been selected yet, nor their hotel rooms booked, that might be a bit difficult to prosecute this far out from Cleveland.

It all depends on the applicability and elasticity of the term "menacing" under Ohio criminal law, which reads: “No person shall knowingly cause another to believe that the offender will cause physical harm to the person or property of the other person…”  That sounds awfully loosey-goosey, as the charge would be based entirely on the subjective perception of the potential victim, making the language highly exploitable for political entrapment purposes.

On the other hand, Stone's "Days of Rage" threat, which included the "we'll find you in your hotel room" in the context of the Trump-encouraged violence at his rallies doesn't exactly require him to explicitly threaten to beat delegates to a pulp, either.  But filing that charge now still seems like something out of Minority Report.

But it could be akin to a proverbial "shot across the bow" of the Trump Train:

Joshua Dressler, faculty managing editor of the Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, said “a plausible case can be made that this would constitute menacing.”

“To be guilty, however, the prosecutor would need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the words were expressed with the intention of causing apprehension of harm,” Dressler added. “So, what I am saying is that there might be sufficient evidence to obtain an indictment for this or a related offense, but whether you could prove the case at trial is a much greater hurdle.”

Nevertheless, Dressler said [prosecutor Timothy] McGinty, a Democrat, could decide to charge Stone to make a point.

“When dealing with political issues like this, one can imagine this can cloud the analysis,” Dressler said. “If the prosecutor would like to deter future risk of rioting, a prosecution might make good sense, to send a message. So, ultimately, a prosecution here, whether it would be successful or not, makes some sense. There is real recklessness in the words he expressed.” [emphasis added]

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," in other words.  Make an example of the Trump capo making thinly-veiled threats and perhaps the Days of Rage are deterred.  The problem with this idea is that it ignores the nature of "Trumpism," in which each and every slight is immediately and massively avenged, from Twitter to punches in the face.  Stone implicitly threatens riots and mob violence, in other words, to provoke a response such as this in order to pour fuel on the fire he's trying to ignite.  The Trump campaign manipulates Ohio law enforcement to motivate and incentivize the very violence it seeks to incite and the latter is seeking to avert by "proving" that the "elites" are "out to get Trump".

Hence my Minority Report reference above, a movie set in the near future where human clairvoyance was harnessed as a means of preventing crimes before they happen, until Tom Cruise's character is accused of a "future murder," and all of a sudden the temporal law enforcement model isn't so much fun anymore.  In the real world, indictments are not generally handed down for what a suspect might do, even if there's ample reason to believe the suspect will, in fact, do it, as is the case with Roger Stone.  And as a practical matter, if there's little chance of a conviction at trial, why do it in the first place other than as a political cudgel?  Which would be precisely the provoked incitement Stone is looking for.

It seems dubious to me based mostly on there not being identifiable victims or even crime scenes yet.  Which I'm guessing is the other reason why Stone did his "menacing" now.  The message, in other words, has been sent, far enough in advance to escape criminal liability for it and yet it will reverberate all the way to Cleveland, and be in the back of Trump-pledged delegates' minds.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the difference between an amateur thug (like Corey Lewandowski) and a professional.  And how Trump will REALLY counter Ted Cruz's superior organization and ground game.

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