The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Tuesday upheld a district court’s gag order against Donald Trump advisor Roger Stone and his family in criminal proceedings.
Stone argued in front of the appeals court that the gag order violated his First Amendment right to freedom of speech. However, the court did not address Stone’s argument and instead dismissed Stone’s claims on jurisdictional concerns. Stone brought his claims to the appeals court seeking a writ of mandamus, an order that would vacate the district court’s gag order. The appeals court found that it lacked the authority to grant the writ because Stone had not previously pursued other available legal options. Judge Robert Wilkins explained the court’s analysis:
“[T]he remedy of mandamus is a drastic one, to be invoked only in extraordinary situations.” … To show entitlement to mandamus, a petitioner “must demonstrate (1) a clear and indisputable right to relief, (2) that the government agency or official is violating a clear duty to act, and (3) that no adequate alternative remedy exists.” … “These three threshold requirements are jurisdictional; unless all are met, a court must dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction.” … Because the Petitioners possess adequate alternative remedies, they fail to satisfy the third prong of mandamus entitlement, and we must dismiss the petition for lack of jurisdiction.
The court outlined Stone’s other options such as appealing under the detention order under 18 USC § 3145(c). However, Stone failed to appeal the gag order before required deadlines. The court refused to take Stone’s claim as an appeal because of the deadline and determined that Stone had failed to appeal in an timely manner. Stone’s family, however, can still move to have the district court reconsider the gag order. If the district court does not vacate the order, the family can appeal the order according to the appeals court.
Stone faces charges of obstruction of a proceeding, witness tampering and making false statements to the US House of Representatives Committee on Intelligence in connection with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.