- On November 20, New York Times writer Colin Moynihan
broke the news headlining:
- "Radical Lawyer Convicted of Aiding Terrorist Is
Jailed," then saying:
- "Defiant to the end as she embraced supporters outside
the federal courthouse in Lower Manhattan, Lynne F. Stewart, the radical
lawyer known for defending unpopular clients, surrendered on Thursday to
begin serving her 28-month sentence for assisting terrorism."
- Fact check:
- Stewart did what all attorneys should, but few, in fact,
do - observe the American Bar Association's Model Rules saying all lawyers
are obligated to:
- "devote professional time and resources and use
civic influence to ensure equal access to our system of justice for all
those who because of economic or social barriers cannot afford or secure
adequate legal counsel."
- Also to practice law ethically, morally and responsibly
to assure everyone is afforded due process and judicial fairness in American
courts. Sadly and disturbingly, Stewart was denied what she did for others
heroically, unselfishly, and proudly. More on that below.
- Stewart (prison number 53504-054) is now jailed at:
- 150 Park Row
- New York, NY 10007
- Betrayed by American Justice
- For 30 years, Stewart worked heroically to defend America's
poor, underprivileged, and unwanted, never afforded due process and judicial
fairness without an advocate like her. Where others wouldn't go, she defended
controversial figures like David Gilbert of the Weather Underground, Richard
Williams of the United Freedom Front, Sekou Odinga and Nasser Ahmed of
the Black Liberation Army, and many more like them. She knew the risk,
but did it fearlessly and courageously until bogusly indicted on April
9, 2002 for:
- -- "conspiring to defraud the United States;
- -- conspiring to provide and conceal material support
to terrorist activity;
- -- providing and concealing material support to terrorist
- -- two counts of making false statements."
- She was also accused of violating US Bureau of Prisons
Special Administrative Measures (SAMs) that included a gag order on her
client, Sheik Abdel Rahman. When imposed, they prohibit discussion on topics
the Justice Department (DOJ) rules outside of "legal representation,"
so lawyers can't discuss them with clients, thus inhibiting their defense.
- At former US Attorney General Ramzy Clark's request,
she joined him as part of Rahman's court-appointed defense team. In his
1995 show trial, he was convicted and is now serving a life sentence for
seditious conspiracy, solicitation of murder, solicitation of an attack
on American military installations, conspiracy to murder, and conspiracy
to bomb in connection with the 1993 World Trade Center attack despite evidence
proving his innocence on all charges.
- The DOJ's case wasn't about alleged crimes. It reflected
his affiliations and anti-western views. Rahman was connected to the Egyptian-based
Al-Gamaa al-Islamiyya - a 1997 US State Department-designated "foreign
terrorist organization." In the 1980s, however, he helped the CIA
recruit Mujahadeen fighters against the Soviets in Afghanistan. For his
work, he got a US visa, green card, and State Department-CIA protection
as long as he was valued. When no longer, he was targeted along with Stewart.
- Her case was precedent-setting, chilling, and according
to the Center of Constitutional Rights Michael Ratner:
- sent "a message to lawyers who represent alleged
terrorists that it's dangerous to do so."
- Her attorney, Michael Tigar, called it:
- "an attack on a gallant, charismatic and effective
fighter for justice (with) at least three fundamental faults:
- -- (it) attack(ed) the First Amendment right of free
speech, free press and petition;
- -- the right to effective assistance of counsel (by)
chill(ing) the defense; (and)
- -- the 'evidence' in this case was gathered by wholesale
invasion of private conversations, private-attorney-client meetings, faxes,
letters and e-mails; I have never seen such an abuse of government power."
- Her 2004 - 2005 show trial was a mockery of justice with
echoes of the worst McCarthy-like tactics. Inflammatory terrorist images
were displayed in court to prejudice the jury, and prosecutors vilified
Stewart as a traitor with "radical" political views. In addition,
days before the verdict, the militant pro-Israeli Jewish Defense Organization
put up flyers near the courthouse displaying her address. It threatened
to "drive her out of her home and out of the state," and said
she "needs to be put out of business legally and effectively."
- It was part of the orchestrated scheme inside and outside
the courtroom to heighten fear, convict Stewart, and intimidate other lawyers
to expect the same treatment if they dare represent unpopular clients effectively.
- On February 10, 2005 (after a seven month trial and 13
days of deliberation) she was convicted on all five counts. Under New York
state law, she was automatically disbarred, and the state Supreme Court's
Appellate Division denied her petition to resign voluntarily. On October
17, 2006, she was sentenced to 28 months imprisonment, but remained free
on bond pending appeal before the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
- Stewart Ordered to Prison
- The Justice for Lynne Stewart web site (lynnestewart.org)
announced the news. On November 17, the Appeals Court revoked her bond,
upheld the verdict, ordered her surrender forthwith, but stayed it until
November 19 at 5PM to let her attorney file a motion for reconsideration.
It was denied, so she must report to federal marshals as directed. A November
19 conversation with Lynne and her husband Ralph confirmed it.
- The situation remains fluid, dire, and complicated by
Stewart's battle with breast cancer. She has surgery scheduled for December
7, unlikely now, but if done in prison or where authorities direct, it
won't be the quality she deserves.
- In its ruling, the three judge panel (John Walker, Guido
Calebresi and Robert Sack) was firm, hostile and belligerent in upholding
the lower court's conviction. Judge Sack accused Stewart of lying and called
for a longer sentence. "We think that whether (she) lied under oath
at her trial is directly relevant to whether her sentence was appropriate,"
he wrote, and directed District Court Judge John Koeltl to re-sentence
her "so as to reflect that finding." Judge Walker was even harsher,
calling the original sentence "breathtakingly low." Judge Calabrese
said: "I am at a loss for any rationale upon this record that could
reasonably justify a sentence of 28 months' imprisonment for this defendant."
- They all said Stewart was "convicted principally
with respect to (her violating) measures by which (she) had agreed to abide,"
namely SAMs. They rejected her "argument that, as a lawyer, she was
not bound by (them), and her belated argument collaterally attacking their
constitutionality." They also:
- "affirm(ed her conviction) of providing and concealing
material support to the conspiracy to murder persons in a foreign country
(and) of conspiring to provide and conceal such support....We conclude
that the charges were valid (and) the evidence was sufficient to sustain
the convictions. We also reject Stewart's claims that her purported attempt
to serve as a 'zealous advocate' for her client provides her with immunity
from the convictions....."
- "Finally, we affirm Stewart's convictions for knowingly
and willfully making false statements....when she affirmed that she intended
to, and would, abide by the SAMs. In light of her repeated and flagrant
violation of (them), a reasonable factfinder could conclude that (her)
representations that she intended to and would abide by the SAMs were knowingly
false when made. We reject the remaining challenges to the convictions.
(We) affirm the district court's rejection of Stewart's claim that she
was selectively prosecuted on account of her gender or political beliefs....We
therefore affirm the convictions in their entirety."
- They redirected her case to District Court Judge Koeltl
for re-sentencing. The DOJ wants 30 years. Koeltl originally imposed 28
months, let Stewart remain free on bond pending appeal, implied his decision
might be overturned because of a gross miscarriage of justice, effectively
rebuked the Bush administration at the time, and handed it a major defeat.
Her fate is now in his hands, but justice has already been denied at a
time we're all as vulnerable as she if we dare resist state policies, unchanged
under an administration no different from its predecessor.
- In a November 17 news conference, Stewart said:
- "I'm too old to cry, but it hurts too much not to."
In criticizing the Court's decision, she said its timing "on the eve
of the arrival of the tortured men from offshore prison in Guantanamo"
suggests that lawyers appointed to represent them may face the same fate
as she. "If you're going to lawyer for these people, you'd better
toe very close to the line that the government has set out (because they'll)
be watching you every inch of the way, (so those who don't) will end up
like Lynne Stewart. This is a case that is bigger than just me personally
(but she added that she'll) go on fighting."
- So will her lawyer, Joshua Dratel, who said he'll pursue
it "as far and as long as we can," including a possible Supreme
Court review. The Obama US attorney's office was silent, effectively affirming
a gross injustice at a time the due process and judicial fairness thresholds
are so low that all Americans risk the same fate as Lynne.
- Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre
for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>email@example.com.
- Also visit his blog site sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen
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