Judge orders Paul Manafort, convicted felon, to wear prison clothes to court

Trump's former campaign chairman wanted to wear a professional suit to court but was denied by Judge T. S. Ellis

By Matthew Rozsa

Published October 17, 2018 3:39PM (EDT)

Paul Manafort (Alexandria Detention Center)
Paul Manafort (Alexandria Detention Center)

President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was told by a judge that he has to wear prison clothes to his sentencing hearing instead of the professional attire that the disgraced political adviser wanted.

"Defendant has moved to appear in a suit rather than prison attire," Judge T. S. Ellis wrote in a court order. "Defendants who are in custody post-conviction are, as a matter of course, not entitled to appear for sentencing or any other hearing in street clothing. This defendant should be treated no differently from other defendants who are in custody post-conviction."

In a footnote, Ellis explained that Manafort had been allowed to wear street clothing at his trial because the 1976 case Estelle v. Williams determined that a defendant "should not be compelled to go to trial in prison or jail clothing because of the possible impairment" of their right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Ellis added that, because Manafort has subsequently been convicted of crimes including "subscribing to false federal income tax returns, failing to register foreign bank accounts, and bank fraud and also recently pled guilty to other criminal charges in the District of Columbia," the former campaign chairman "is no longer presumed innocent" and "therefore is not entitled to appear in street clothing at court proceedings."

During Manafort's trial, Ellis became the center of media attention due to his tendency to make sharp comments about the proceedings in front of his court. Although Ellis had a longstanding reputation as a judge with a quick tongue and a no-holds-barred demeanor, he was perceived as being tougher on the prosecutors than on Manafort's defense team. The most controversial moment occurred when he told lead prosecutor Greg D. Andres that "I understand how frustrated you are. In fact, there’s tears in your eyes right now." When Andres insisted that Ellis was mistaken, the judge insisted, "Well, they are watery."

Manafort did receiving something of a lucky break on Wednesday, however, when prosecutors charged a senior Treasury Department staffer named Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards with leaking suspicious active reports and conspiracy. As The Washington Post reported:

The stories cited in the criminal complaint filed against Edwards match the headlines, wording and information contained in BuzzFeed News stories, though the court papers did not identify the company by name. Those stories often focused on suspicious activity reports related to key figures in the investigation being conducted by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, including former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Russian diplomats and other Trump associates.

The last such story was published on Monday, again drawing largely from SARs reports.

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

MORE FROM Matthew Rozsa

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Donald Trump Paul Manafort T. S. Ellis Trump Russia Scandal