For millions worldwide, Lynne needs no introduction. For others: She worked selflessly, tirelessly, and heroically for 30 years as a human rights champion, defending America's poor, underprivileged, and unwanted - people never afforded due process and judicial fairness without an advocate like her. She knew the risks, yet took them 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 activity; and
-- two counts of making false statements."
The charges related to her alleged violation of Bureau of Prisons Special Administrative Measures (SAMS) that prohibit discussing topics the Justice Department rules outside "legal representation" - to inhibit a proper defense and obstruct justice for anyone DOJ wants to convict.
Her client was Sheik Abdel Rahman, a one-time CIA asset, convicted in 1995 and now serving a life sentence for "seditious conspiracy" for his alleged connection to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing despite convincing evidence of his innocence.
As an advocate for justice, Lynne was targeted, indicted, and after a seven month 2004 - 2005 show trial featuring the worst of McCarthy-like tactics, convicted on February 10, 2005 after 13 days of deliberation on all five counts. She was automatically disbarred, then sentenced on October 17, 2006 to 28 months imprisonment.
She remained free on bond until the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit revoked it on November 17, 2009, ordering her surrender on November 19 at 5PM to be imprisoned at:
150 Park Row
New York, NY 10007
Prison number 53504-054
Though subject to change, she'll be resentenced on July 15, at which time her 28 month confinement may be sustained, reduced, or what friends and family fear, increased after the three-judge Appeals Court panel accused her of lying, called for a longer sentence, and remanded her case to District Court Judge John G. Koeltl for reconsideration.
It puts strong pressure on him to comply, despite, on sentencing, calling Lynne's character "extraordinary" and, believing a long imprisonment would be "an unreasonable result," citing "the somewhat atypical nature of Stewart's case (and) lack of evidence that any victim was harmed as a result of the charged offense."
Also that terrorism enhancement sentencing was "dramatically unreasonable in (her) case (because it grossly) overstate(d) the seriousness of (her) past conduct and the likelihood that (she would) repeat the offense. (Stewart) has no criminal history and yet (terrorism enhancement would) place (her) in the highest criminal history category equal to that of repeat felony offenders for the most serious offenses including murder and drug trafficking."
Ordinarily, if lawyers violate SAMs or other prison rules, it's handled administratively like restricting visitation rights or denying them. For doing her job, Lynne was criminally indicted to:
-- discredit, silence and disbar her; and
-- intimidate other lawyers not to defend unpopular clients too vigorously or face similar treatment.
Potential long imprisonment sends a strong message, what's for Obama administration prosecutors to consider after Judge Koeltl resentences.
Second Circuit Denies Full (En Banc) Rehearing
On February 23, the Appeals Court majority ruling denied Lynne's request, stating:
-- "the terrorism enhancement is the dominant sentencing consideration in this case. The district court erred in discounting it to zero. That is an error both procedural and substantive in nature, highlighting one reason that the two-step sequencing of review for procedural and substantive error makes so little sense in this case."
-- "....the abuse of her law license is a basis for enhancing Stewart's sentence....Stewart is reported as having expressed the view that she would do what she did again, but 'might handle it a little differently' to evade detection. So for her, supporting and promoting terrorism remains acceptable; anything else....is technique."
-- "Media reports (which require skeptical vetting) reflect that Stewart has promoted her criminal conduct as a matter of principle," including at a law school conference attended mostly by students, "seek(ing) to corrupt the young by enlisting (them) in the project of degrading legal practice."
-- "....the issue of substantive reasonableness may be obviated or mitigated following the district court's correction of the procedural error identified by the panel majority....this Court may have an opportunity after remand to reach issues that are not decided by the panel majority."
On July 15 or if rescheduled, the harsh Appeals Court message will weigh heavily on Judge Koeltl when he resentences.
As a result, Lynne's web site (lynnestewart.org) highlights the concern, saying:
"We need your support now more than ever!"
A petition to free her can be found on her site. Add your name to the hundreds who've signed, and support Lynne's struggle against prosecutorial injustice.
After being jailed, Lynne's web site published her letter to "Sisters and Brothers, Friends and Supporters," saying:
"Well the moment we all hoped would never come is upon us. Good bye to a good cup of coffee in the morning, a soft chair, the hugs of grandchildren and the smaller pleasures in life."
At that time, she was well treated "due to my lawyer team and your overwhelming support. While I have received 'celebrity' treatment here in MCC - high visibility - conditions for the other women are deplorable. Medical care, food, education, recreation are all at minimal levels. If it weren't for the unqualified bonds of sisterhood and the commissary it would be even more dismal."
At the end, she thanked supporters for showing up for her jailing, calling it a moment she'll always cherish. "The broad organizational representation was breathtaking and the love and politics expressed (the anger too) will keep me nourished through this."
Her final comment was vintage Lynne:
"Organize - Agitate, Agitate, Agitate! And write to me and others locked down by the Evil Empire.
Love Struggle, Lynne Stewart
On December 3, the Lynne Stewart Defense Committee's (LSDC) Pat Levasseur updated her status after a December 2 conference before Judge Koeltl discussing resentencing procedures. Under consideration was whether to do it "de novo" (starting over, disregarding his initial reasoning) or by clarifying and updating his October 2006 decision.
At issue is the Appeals Court opinion as well as Lynne's age (70) and health. Her blood pressure is "extremely high," and she needs bladder surgery. It's "not life threatening but increasingly uncomfortable," so it's essential to complete as soon as possible successfully.
LSDC plans public events on Lynne's behalf "in cooperation with others to fight for (her) sentence to remain 28 months."
Additional time will be cruel and unusual by any standard, yet Republican and Democrat prosecutors demand maximum penalties against anyone they target - innocent or guilty, to punish using underhanded tactics to intimidate juries to convict, and tell defense lawyers to steer clear of unpopular clients or not defend them vigorously.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also 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.