Protest the Jailing of Lynne Stewart. One of the first victims of the Patriot Act, she was convicted of aiding and abetting terrorism in the course of her legal work. Based on her years of defending the most exploited, and government infringement of attorney-client confidentiality in the case, she was sentenced to only 28 months of detention, and was freed on appeal. Now, at age 70 and battling breast cancer, she has been ordered to jail, and her sentence is being reviewed to be increased. Read more.
SF Gray Panther Newsletter, December, 2009
Lynne Stewart’s Appeal Denied
After a long career representing the poor, oppressed and unpopular, radical attorney Lynne Stewart has been sent to jail. On November 17, a federal appeals court upheld her 2005 conviction of conspiracy and providing material support to terrorists and ordered her bond revoked. It also faulted District Judge John G. Koeltl for failing to issue a finding on whether she had committed perjury, and ordered him to review the mitigating circumstances that led him to sentence her to 28 months rather than the 30 years requested by the government. .
In the many years since charges were brought against her, the Gray Panthers have participated in nation-wide support and fundraising efforts for Lynne. In a typical political analysis of the events, she said the decision’s timing, “coming as it does on the eve of the arrival of the tortured men from the offshore prison in Guantánamo,” carried a message. “If you’re going to lawyer for these people, you’d better toe very close to the line that the government has set out.”
To send Lynne a letter, write:
Lynne Stewart, #53504-054
150 Park Row
New York, NY 10007
Jeff Mackler wrote:
Dear Friends of Lynne Stewart,
I just got off the phone with Lynne Stewart a few minutes ago, that is, late Wednesday (early Thursday, November 19, New York time). She bravely told me that she has been ordered to report to U.S. Federal Marshals to be imprisoned at 5 pm, Thursday, November 19. There will be a 4 pm NY rally of her supporters, who will escort her to the courthouse for imprisonment.
In San Francisco, we will rally on Monday, Nov. 23 to protest Lynne’s frame-up trial and imprisonment. Be there! (See above.)
Following the November 16 decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit that rejected Lynne Stewart’s appeal of her 1995 frame-up conviction on five counts of aiding and abetting terrorism, Lynne’s legal team as well as the federal district court were in a quandary as to how to proceed. (Lynne has been a leading civil and human rights attorney for 30-years. She is a member of the National Lawyers Guild and a member of the Continuations Committee of the National Assembly to End the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Occupations.)
The Second Circuit made what amounted to an unprecedented decision to not only affirm her conviction and reject her appeal but to order that her bail be revoked and that she be remanded to prison. But lacking clear orders as to who would carry out this decision and when it would happen, the last two days have seen Lynne appear, along with her supporters at two rallies in her defense and numerous press conferences and interviews while judges and lawyers tried to ascertain what to do. That decision has been made and Lynne will begin serving a 28-month prison term.
However, the Second Circuit’s 2-1 decision also remanded the issue of the length of Lynne’s sentence back to Judge John Koeltl’s Federal District Court ordering Koeltl to reconsider the 28-month jail sentence that he originally imposed. Obviously furious at the relatively short duration of the sentence, the Second Circuit accepted the prosecution’s assertion that Koeltl had not properly considered the question of whether or not Lynne has perjured herself during her trial. If that were to be determined, according to the Second Circuit, the length of Lynne’s sentence could be extended. The single dissenting judge went further — expressing his outrage at Lynne’s relatively short sentence and suggesting that a qualitatively longer sentence be imposed than the majority contemplated. The government originally demanded a 30-year sentence!
Still fighting, Lynne’s attorneys will ask the Second Circuit for a delay in her incarceration based on Lynne’s scheduled December surgery. Here too, Lynne guesses that this will be denied, with the court holding that prison facilities are adequate for any medical needs that Lynne, a diabetic with hypertension and recovering from breast cancer surgery, may have.
Meanwhile, a new sentencing hearing before Judge Koeltl is scheduled for December 2 at the Foley Square Courthouse. Federal prosecutors are expected to ask for the maximum sentence possible. Also appearing in court will be Mohamed Yousry, Lynne’s innocent co-defendant and translator. Koeltl was also ordered to reconsider Yousry’s 20-month sentence. The prison term of a third defendant in Lynne’s case, Ahmed Sattar, who was sentenced to 20-plus years, was not challenged.
At this point we can only speculate as to whether Judge Koeltl will stand by his original sentence or be pressured by the Second Circuit to extend Lynne and Mohammed’s sentences. The judge is known to carefully consider his sentences. Close observers believe that he is unlikely to bend and impose a longer sentence.
Should Koeltl refuse to add additional years to Lynne’s prison term, the government is expected to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Government prosecutors and obviously the Second Circuit are outraged that a “convicted terrorist” has been walking around the streets for the past five years, free to champion her own cause and those of all others who suffer political repression. It was clear from Judge Koeltl’s short sentence and high praise of Lynne’s record as an attorney and human being, a “credit to her profession,” said Koeltl during the sentencing hearing, that he felt compelled to take his distance from the government’s desire to put Lynne, 70, in prison for what would amount to the rest of her life.
Lynne will appeal the Second Circuit’s ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. She has repeatedly stated that her prosecution and persecution are consciously orchestrated by the government to chill the defense bar, that is, to instill the fear of government prosecutions into any attorney who seeks to afford alleged terrorists or others who are victims of unjust government persecution a vigorous and dedicated defense. Lynne points to the upcoming U.S. prosecution efforts of Guantanamo prisoners as a prime example.
For further information contact: Jeff Mackler, Coordinator, West Coast Lynne Stewart Defense Committee 510-268-9429, <firstname.lastname@example.org>. Mail tax-free contributions payable to National Lawyers Guild Foundation. Write in memo box: “Lynne Stewart Defense.” Mail to: Lynne Stewart Defense, P.O. Box 10328, Oakland, CA 94610.
Lynne Stewart is charged for her actions acting as attorney for blind Egyptian cleric named Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman, who is accused for the basement bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993. Further investigation of this bombing shows that operatives for Federal agencies were involved in setting up this action. Read more here.