Attorney Stanley L. Cohen: Guilty of Doing His Job Honorably
by Stephen Lendman
He's a criminal defense attorney/political activist par excellence. Wrongfully indicted on bogus charges.
Guilty of defending wrong clients. Ones prosecutors wanted convicted. More on this below.
America's criminal justice system is corrupted. Broken. Systematically unfair. Infested with political hacks.
Solely supporting wealth, power and privilege. Prosecutors take full advantage.
Innocence is no defense. Guilt by accusation is official policy. The American Bar Association's (ABA) Model Code of Judicial Conduct doesn't matter. Its preamble calls for:
"An independent, fair and impartial judiciary." It's "indispensable to our system of justice." It's composed of "men and women of integrity.
"Judges…at all times (must ensure) the greatest possible public confidence in their independence, impartiality, integrity, and competence."
"Standards (of) ethical conduct (include) overarching principles of judicial ethics (and fairness), consistent with constitutional requirements, statutes, other court rules, and decisional law, and with due regard for all relevant circumstances."
Truth, impartiality and judicial fairness must be maintained. So mut upholding fundamental rule of law principles, norms and standards.
ABA's Model Rules say 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."
America's Fifth Amendment says government may not deprive defendants of "life, liberty, or property" without "due process of law."
America's Sixth Amendment guarantees public trials "without unnecessary delay(s)." By impartial jurors.
Represented by competent counsel. Even if it's unaffordable. The right to know your accusers. Charges and evidence against you.
Attorneys should be restriction-free to choose clients. Everyone deserves a proper defense.
Including unpopular clients. The poor, underprivileged, disadvantaged, unwanted or despised. Innocent or guilty.
It's what practicing law ethically, morally and responsibly is all about. Doing it because it matters. Assuring defendants are afforded due process and judicial fairness.
On December 18, 2013, the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York headlined "Manhattan-Based Attorney Charged in Tax Fraud Scheme With Failing to Report Over $3 million in Fee Income."
New York State tax authorities filed similar charges.
Cohen is falsely charged with "(d)irecting Clients to Pay Legal Fees in Cash, Some of Which Was Stashed in a Safe Deposit Box, and By Wiring Money to Pay His Personal Credit Card Bills."
According to Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara:
"As alleged, Stanley Cohen instructed his clients to pay him in cash, and then stockpiled the money he received in legal fees in order to avoid paying his fair share in taxes."
"Today's charges underscore our commitment to pursuing and prosecuting individuals who seek to circumvent this nation's tax laws."
RS-CI Special Agent-in-Charge Weirauch added:
"IRS-Criminal Investigation is committed to ensuring that everyone pays their fair share."
"We will thoroughly investigate those who are willfully violating the income tax laws, and we will work with our partners at the Department of Justice to see that they are prosecuted."
Cohen faced five counts of failing to file US personal income tax returns. Each carries a maximum one year sentence. One wire fraud count a maximum 20 years in prison.
Cohen says his case isn't about income tax evasion. DOJ targeted him over 10 years ago. For defending clients they wanted convicted.
Ones they wanted denied due process. "(M)ost prominently Hamas," Cohen said. They tried charging him with material support for terrorism.
He was counsel for "a number of so-called terrorist groups." He represented Hamas since 1995. He called doing it a "great honor and privilege."
When DOJ terrorist-related "witch hunt" persecution against him failed, "in came the IRS," he said. "(F)or 7 years or so (he) battled…allegations at great cost…"
Doing so took "a tremendous amount of effort by my team of lawyers, my family, friends, supporters and clients."
It cost him over $600,000. Much remains still owed. Prosecution "scar(ed) off clients." It interfered with "critical work with various human rights groups and activists overseas."
It made essential travel abroad "impractical." His ordeal made work he loves best, "namely resistance and support(ing) (it), ineffective for the foreseeable future."
After discussions with family, friends, supporters, colleagues and clients, he decided to end witch hunt harassment.
On April 14, he pled guilty to impeding the IRS. At the time, he said if he "represent(ed) the Boy Scouts of America, (he) wouldn't have been in this court today."
Months earlier, he said charges aimed "to silence and punish" him."
He expects about 18 months in prison. Likely out in one year. He'll lose his law license. He can reapply for reinstatement when freed.
At the time, he said his plea won't "change (his) commitment to truth, justice and resistance."
"Nor should it be seen as acquiescence to the naive and liberal notion that this government and others and their respective criminal justice systems work or are just."
"The fight will go on but in different ways. I would expect to spend much of my time in prison working with and assisting the unjustly accused and those prosecuted because of color, class or politics."
Perhaps write a book he intends. Until sentencing, he continues representing clients. He speaks publicly for justice.
He "continue(s) to inspire others to fight on," he explains. "We all know that there is a cost when you say no, when you refuse to go silently into the night, when you reject he notion of complicity."
"But the work must go on. There is no choice. Mourn not for me but for the millions of people murdered worldwide because of their race, religion, politics or activism."
"Mourn not for me but for the millions of stateless people reduced to 'life' in refugee camps, or who live under Apartheid and Occupation and who are subjected daily to ethnic cleansing, collective punishment and indefinite detention."
"Mourn not for me but for the whistle blowers, journalists and dissidents murdered, jailed and exiled because of a belief, a simple vision, a commitment to change."
"To those who love or support me, my decision will not matter. To those who hate me, enjoy your smug smile and distorted sentiment, it will not however change the words I have spoken and will speak in the future and the fights I have embraced or those yet to come."
"To those who do not know me or care, life goes on. Most important to my friends who in some small way have been inspired by my words and work, this is not a loss but a predictable result of a lifetime of resistance."
"There is a price to pay when you say no, choose wisely and fight the fight." At the time, he said he he'd say more at sentencing. It's scheduled in November.
Cohen is honorable by any standard. A model citizen. A role model for others.
A William Kunstler protege. Practicing law for over 30 years. Responsibly. Handling more terrorist-related cases in America than any other attorney.
Representing over a thousand activists and community members. Often on bogus charges they faced.
Including anti-war protesters. Occupy Wall Street activists. Native American ones. Other political ones. Muslim clerics. Weather Underground members. America's most disadvantaged. Society's most unwanted.
FBI agents raided his home and law office. Extrajudicially. Repressively. Confiscating his electronic equipment.
He's banned from entering Israel. For defending clients opposing its lawlessness. Ruthlessness. High crimes against peace.
His human/civil rights activism is notable. Outstanding. Courageous. Deserving high praise. He's involved with the International Coalition for Freedom and Rights (ICFR).
It's an "international legal and human rights organisation which supports justice and freedom for all." Its objectives include:
• bringing to trial human rights abusers;
• forming a network of human rights activists and lawyers; and
• supporting just causes, as well as mobilizing public opinion against human rights abuses.
It cooperates with international human rights organizations and civil society institutions. It's involved in "capacity building of human rights activists."
It institutes legal action against human rights abusers locally and internationally. It supports efforts involved in bringing human rights abusers to trial.
It documents relevant cases. Prepares human rights reports and periodic bulletins. Cooperates with international organizations involved with human rights and international law.
Supports "all efforts and activities aimed at raising awareness of human rights abuses and international laws related thereto."
"Raise(s) the level of awareness of human rights activists."
Cohen is a former VISTA volunteer. He worked on Winnegago, Omaha and Santee Sioux reservations. He lived there.
He helped establish legal services. He was a New York City community organizer. He ran a Westchester, NY drug program. Mostly serving homeless teens.
Before attending law school, he was an administrator for a federally-funded anti-poverty program.
He was a Legal Aid Society of the City of New York in the South Bronx criminal defense attorney.
At the time, he represented thousands of indigent clients. Ones with no chance for justice without an advocate like him.
He "grew up in a home where (his) family supported issues and they impacted (him) to make a difference in the world," he said.
His social work "led (him) into law because (he) saw it as another step as an activist on a national and international level," he added.
He called working for New York's Legal Aid Society "the perfect bridge from social work to working with criminal defense attorneys in the South Bronx."
"It provided hands on practice in litigation that stayed with (him) for the rest of (his) career." He doesn't consider practicing law a job.
It's a calling. A mission for justice often denied. He calls himself "a great trial attorney who understands domestic and international cases."
At the same time, he "bite(s) off more than (he) can chew. (He) can't say no to people" needing help.
His passion is political defense work. He believes fundamental freedoms are vital to defend.
It bears repeating. He's honorable by any standard. He deserves high praise, not prosecution.
He calls the Middle East's "biggest tripwire...the inability of the West to communicate with, understand and deal realistically with liberation movements, and especially Palestinian" ones.
"There will be no peace in the Middle East (without) justice for the Palestinian people," he explains.
Occupied people have a right to resist, he believes. They're obligated to do so. Liberating struggles demand it.
International law supports it. Resisting tyranny is a universal right. America's Declaration of Independence affirms it.
Media coverage has been largely one-sided. Last March, the Jewish Daily Forward headlined "How Stanley Cohen Went From Orthodox to Defending bin Laden's Son-In-Law," saying:
"Leaflets handed out near the Manhattan courthouse" called him a "traitor." An "enemy of Jews, Israel and America."
"Similar fliers were distributed around his Lower East Side loft." He headed Sulaiman Abu Ghaith's (bin Laden's son-in-law) defense team.
He faced conspiracy charges to kill Americans. Provide material support for terrorists. He never had a chance. He was guilty by accusation.
Convicted as expected. Despite no credible evidence proving guilt. Sentenced to life in prison.
Innocence is no defense. Not when prosecutors want convictions. Justice doesn't matter. Not in America. It's routinely denied.
Cohen said Abu Ghaith was only guilty of anti-American speeches. No evidence whatever proved charges against him. It didn't exist.
It didn't have to. It bears repeating. Guilt by accusation is commonplace. Thousands like Abu Gaith languish in America's gulag.
It's the world's largest. One of the most repressive. Brutal. Unforgiving. Punishing political activists prosecutors want silenced. Others government wants removed from society.
Cohen is targeted the same way. Doing the right thing in America comes with a price. Risking incarceration. So-called "land of the free" mumbo jumbo is grossly unfair.
It's always been this way. More than ever now. Police states operate this way. America is Exhibit A.
Before Cohen's troubles surfaced, Weekly Standard contributor Larry Miller discussed the Intifada and its defenders. He named Cohen, saying:
He's "the attorney for Hamas…A man who, if he listened very carefully would no doubt hear voices in the next room planning to blow the eyes out of more of his nieces and nephews."
David Horowitz is a notorious Islamophobe. He heads Freedom Center. It's notoriously racist. Anti-Islamist. According to Horowitz:
"Muslim countries have no tolerance for others. If you're not Muslim, then they consider you to be a pig or a dog or a monkey. These backward Muslims really are still living in the stone age."
He equates Islam with terrorism. Promoting these views publicly. He heads Front Page Magazine (FPM). Featuring Islamophobic racist hate-mongering.
Its Jihad Watch page is over-the top. It's Wall of Truth is similar. His David's Blog is hate-filled.
Last December, FPM headlined "Terrorist Lawyer Stanley Cohen Busted for Millions in Tax Evasion," saying:
"Some terrorist lawyers pretend that they take cases on principle. Stanley Cohen is blatant about being a terrorist supporter."
"Stanley, like his terrorist pals, shouldn't have relied on Allah too much while committing crimes. Allah may be the patron saint of terrorists and criminal...but crime doesn't pay."
"(W)hile Stanley Cohen goes through his theatrics, real people die. Maybe the government will finally be able to put him away."
Cohen supports equity and justice responsibly. They're too important to lose. They require defending. No matter the cost.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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