Lynne Stewart Loses Appeal
by Stephen Lendman
For 30 years, Lynne heroically defended America’s poor, underprivileged, unwanted, and forgotten. Without advocates like her, they never have a chance for due process and judicial fairness.
Lynne championed equity and justice. She devoted her life and work to upholding principles too important to reject.
She defended controversial figures like Weather Underground activist David Gilbert, United Freedom Front’s Richard Williams, Black Liberation Army figures Sekou Odinga and Nasser Ahmed, and many others like them.
She knew the risks, yet took them courageously. She did so because it’s the right thing to do.
At former US Attorney General Ramzy Clark’s request, she joined his Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman’s defense team.
In 1995, he was wrongfully convicted of seditious conspiracy, solicitation of murder, solicitation of an attack on American military installations, conspiracy to commit murder, and conspiracy to bomb in connection with the 1993 World Trade Center attack. Evidence proved his innocence, not guilt on all charges.
No matter. He never had a chance. Prosecutorial injustice framed him. Show trial theatrics assured imprisoning him for life. He’s currently at Butner (North Carolina) Federal Medical Center northwest of Raleigh.
Defending Rahman got Lynne spuriously charged with:
- “conspiring to defraud the United States;
- conspiring to provide and conceal material support to terrorist activity;
- providing and concealing material support to terrorist activity; and
- two counts of making false statements.”
Charges stemmed from claiming she violated US Bureau of Prisons Special Administrative Measures (SAMs). They included a gag order on her client.
They prohibited discussing topics the Justice Department (DOJ) ruled outside “legal representation.” Doing so inhibits how lawyers defend any client.
Ramsey Clark issued press releases like Lynne’s. So do other attorneys for their clients. Punishment doesn’t follow. Penalties at most might be mild reprimands. Vengeful recrimination is inconceivable.
Charging Lynne had nothing to do with alleged SAMs violations. It was about silencing a powerful voice for justice. Tactics involved disbarring and imprisoning her.
They took aim at the American Bar Association’s Model rules. They say 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.”
They’re also about practicing law ethically, morally and responsibly. It’s to assure everyone is afforded due process and judicial fairness in US courts.
Reality belies the rhetoric. US courts give kangaroos a bad name. Lynne was denied what she did for others heroically and unselfishly.
Doing so sent other lawyers a chilling message not to defend clients Washington wants convicted.
Lynne devoted her life and career to it. She’s now in prison for doing the right thing.
On February 10, 2005, she was convicted on all counts. She was automatically disbarred. New York’s Supreme Court’s Appellate Division denied her petition to resign voluntarily.
On October 17, 2006, she was sentenced to 28 months in prison. At the time, she remained free on bond pending appeal before the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
On November 17, it revoked her bond, upheld her conviction, ordered her surrender forthwith, but stayed it until November 19 to permit filing a motion for reconsideration. It was denied. She reported to federal marshals and was imprisoned.
At the behest of Second Circuit judges, her sentence was increased from 28 months to 10 years. She appealed and lost.
On June 28, AP headlined “NY court upholds lawyer’s 10-year prison sentence,” saying:
Second Circuit justices upheld her sentence. They claimed “she earned it through serious crimes that she refuses to acknowledge.”
Saying so reflects police state justice. Defendants charged are guilty by accusation. Innocence doesn’t matter. The power of the state decides what’s right or wrong. Heroic figures like Lynne suffer. She never had a chance.
Imprisoning her for 10 minutes is unjust. Second Circuit justices claimed 28 months was too lenient. They wanted her put away for life.
They remanded her case back to district court Judge John Koeltl. They settled for increasing her sentence to 10 years. They pressured him to comply.
Originally he felt 28 months was unjust. He pronounced sentence then under pressure. Venal systems operate that way.
Lynne’s lawyer, Herald Price Fahringer, said options going forward will be considered. “We’re awfully disappointed in the decision but we’re going to keep going,” he explained.
Lynne’s imprisoned at Federal Medical Center, Carswell.
She can be reached as follows:
Lynne Stewart #53504-054
Federal Medical Center, Carswell
PO Box 27137
Ft. Worth, TX 76127
She recently underwent surgery. Fahringer said she remains “awfully weak and apparently has difficulty moving around.”
On June 29, New York Law Journal contributor Mark Hamblett headlined “Circuit Rejects Speech Claim in Upholding Stewart Term,” saying:
Lynne failed to win a sentence reduction. She claimed her First Amendment rights were violated. Second Circuit judges disagreed, saying:
“Stewart was not punished for violating a governmental restriction on speech.”
“The district court did not treat her speech as a violation of any law—it considered the content of that speech to be helpful in enabling the court to craft a sentence ‘sufficient, but not greater than necessary, to comply with the purposes set forth’ ” elsewhere in sentencing guidelines.
“Stewart does indeed argue that she was prosecuted and punished for her political beliefs. The most obvious — and fatal — shortcoming in Stewart’s argument in the context of this appeal is that there is not a hint in the record of any fact to support an assertion that the district court did so.”
“The sentencing judge was determining the characteristics of the defendant, which were legally relevant to a determination of the appropriate sentence to impose on Stewart, through the comments she voluntarily and publicly made.”
Jeff Mackler is West Coast Coordinator of the Lynne Stewart Defense Committee. On June 29, he headlined “Court Confirms Ten-Year Sentence for Lynne Stewart,” saying:
Lynne’s 2005 conviction was “outrageous.” Her “crime” was doing the right thing. US “justice” finds that intolerable in defending clients prosecutors want to convict.
“Barring an unlikely Supreme Court reversal, she will now serve her ten-year sentence with perhaps a one-year or ten percent reduction for ‘good behavior.’ “
Justice Department prosecutors and hanging judges sought vengeance. They took issue with Lynne’s sworn duty to represent all clients honorably. She didn’t “bow to authority (or show) required deference.” They rejected her three core arguments:
(1) Violating her fundamental First Amendment rights.
(2) Unreasonably increasing her original sentence fourfold. Doing so failed to consider her lifetime commitment to justice.
(3) Falsely claiming she perjured and misused her position.
She did her job honorably and courageously. She deserves praise, not prison. She’s one of many thousands wrongfully imprisoned in America’s gulag.
Judicial fairness is just a figure of speech. Malice substitutes for doing the right thing. Federal courts are especially repressive. They’re infested with right-wing hacks.
They’re ideologically hardline. They hand down rulings any despot would love. They defend privilege at the expense of justice. They deplore civil liberties and social fairness.
They oppose labor rights, environmental protections, regulatory checks and balances, and women’s reproductive choice. They mock rule of law principles.
Guilt by accusation is policy. Lynne and others like her never have a chance. Why else would America have by far the world’s largest gulag. Their job is supplying it with more warm bodies. Innocence is no just defense.
Mackler said ” ‘Free Lynne Stewart’ must remain the rallying cry of all those who cherish civil liberties and democratic rights.”
She wouldn’t kiss their ring and paid dearly.
America is on a fast track to tyranny. Nations that imprison its best and most honorable aren’t fit to live in.
Lynne’s treatment symbolizes what’s wrong. Only public rage can change things. There’s no other way.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.