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‘Sloppy Lawyering’: Attorneys Already Call Out Roger Stone’s Defense Team for Being Unprepared


In a not-so-brief minute order, U.S. District Judge Deborah A. Robinson criticized attorneys representing President Donald Trump‘s longtime ally and adviser Roger Stone.

The court’s order noted:

On October 25, 2019, this court scheduled an arraignment for 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, January 29, 2919 [sic]. Thereafter, two lawyers, neither of whom is a member of the Bar of [sic] United States District Court for the District of Columbia, each filed a “NOTICE OF APPEARANCE” “as permanent counsel[,]” and included the notation “Pro have vice pending” beneath the signature line.

That’s not exactly how it works. A pro hac vice motion is a formal request filed by an attorney who is not licensed to practice in a certain bar or jurisdiction to work on a single case; a granted pro hac vice motion results in a one-time pass for any such attorney granted one.

A request to practice pro hac vice requires adherence to certain rules which are specific to a particular court–here, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Stone’s attorneys apparently didn’t follow those rules.

“[N]either lawyer has complied with Local Criminal Rule 44.1(d),” the minute order continued, “which requires, in pertinent part, that ‘[a]ny [non-member] seeking to appear pro hac vice must file a motion signed by a sponsoring member of the Bar of this Court,’ accompanied by the prescribed declaration and fee.”

It looks like Stone’s attorneys tried to file their appearance–the official notice that they’ll be working on behalf of their client–before going through the above mandated procedures. As national security attorney Mark Zaid noted, failing to abide by pro hac vice rules qualifies as something of an unforced error.

“Any lawyer worth his/her salt should understand how the pro hac rules work and what is required of them before formally trying to appear in a proceeding,” Zaid wrote on Twitter.

Trial lawyer Page Pate was even less forgiving:

As is typical in such cases, Stone’s attorneys were allowed to correct that minor lapse.

“It is hereby ordered that if the two lawyers expect to ‘be heard in open court’ at the proceedings scheduled for tomorrow, then they shall fully comply with Local Civil Rule 44.1(d) by 9:00 a.m. tomorrow,” Judge Robinson’s order cautioned.

And those pro hac vice issues have already been corrected, according to Stone attorney Grant Smith.

“There are no issues,” Smith told Law&Crime. “Remedied. It was a Filing/timing issue. All good.”

[image via Alex Wong_Getty Images]

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