(Lynne is still recovering from recent surgery, she should be at
home!) Sis. Kiilu Nyasha wrote: This is such an outrage -- designed no
doubt to send a chilling message to all defense lawyers who represent
activists/resisters. Be sure to send Lynne some love and support (See
below). She's in her 70s with health problems. Moreover, she's being
forced to serve her time in Texas thousands of miles from her loved ones
in NY, making visits a real hardship for her husband and offspring.
Court Confirms Ten-Year Sentence for Lynne Stewart
BY JEFF MACKLER
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit today confirmed the 2010
decision of Federal District Court Judge John Koeltl to change his
28-month jail sentence for radical attorney and human rights activist,
Lynne Stewart, to ten years. The court’s June 28, 2012 decision was not
Following federal prosecutors’ appeal of what
was widely considered a “lenient sentence,” the Second Circuit all but
ordered a compliant Koeltl to re-sentence Stewart and harshly. Koeltl
did just that forcing Stewart to appeal to the very court that
originally pressured Koeltl, in what was widely considered a “career
decision” to do Stewart great harm.
Stewart was convicted
at an outrageous 2005 New York frame-up trial on five counts of
conspiracy to aid and abet and provide material support to terrorism.
Her crime? Representing the “blind Sheik,” the Egyptian cleric, Omar
Abdel Rachman, who has also been convicted on trumphed-up conspiracy
charges, Stewart issued a press release from her client stating his
views on how Egyptian Muslim oppositionists should react to the ongoing
crimes and murders of Egypt’s then President Hosni Mubarak.
was convicted of violating a vaguely-worded court-ordered SAM (Special
Administrative Measure) that barred her from revealing her client’s
opinions. The penalty for such violations had traditionally been a mild
slap on the wrist, perhaps a warning to not repeat the “violation” and
to bar attorney-client visits for a few months. Stewart, barring an
unlikely Supreme Court reversal, will now serve her ten-year sentence
with perhaps a one-year or ten percent reduction for “good behavior.”
She is presently incarcerated at FMC Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas.
original 28-month sentence statement, in the face of federal
prosecutors demanding 30 years, noted that Stewart, known for
representing the poor and oppressed for three decades with little
financial remuneration, was a “credit to the legal profession.” Stewart
served as lead counsel for her client along with former U.S. Attorney
General Ramsey Clark, who testified on her behalf during the trial.
Clark himself has issued similar press releases with no punishment.
Indeed, an indignant prosecutor during Stewart’s trail suggested that
Clark himself be charged with conspiracy, but his superiors decided that
imprisoning the nation’s former top attorney was not yet in their game
plan and the suggestion was ignored.
The Second Circuit
decision was based on the allegations that Stewart demonstrated
insufficient deference to the original sentence. The court claimed that
her statement to the media immediately following her sentence that, “I
can do 28 months standing on my head” demonstrated contempt for the
legal system. I was standing next to Stewart at that moment and was saw
nothing other than a great expression of relief that she would not be
sentenced, in effect to death, based on the 30 years that federal
prosecutors sought. Stewart entered the sentencing hearing on that day,
totally ignorant of whether her sentence would be the deeply punishing
30 years demanded by the federal prosecutors or perhaps something that
she, 70 years old at the time, could “live with” and look forward to a
normal life. She carried nothing but a plastic bag, some medicines and a
The Second Circuit also too umbrage at
Stewart’s courageous statement when she took the stand to make her
closing remarks. Her attorney at that moment, Michael Tiger, asked,
referring to Stewart’s issuing the press release on her client’s behalf,
“Lynne, if you had to do it all over again would you do the same
thing?” With a tear in her eye, Stewart stated, “I would hope that I
would have the courage to do it again, I would do it again.” Stewart
also insisted that her sworn duty to represent her client had to weighed
against the formalities of laws or court orders that prevented such
This refusal to bow to authority,
to show the “required deference” to legal bullies with power, outraged
her persecutors, who sought vengeance in the rigged criminal “justice”
Stewart’s now rejected appeal argued three essential points:
In relying on Lynne Stewart’s public statements to enhance the original
sentence of 28 months, her First Amendment rights were abridged
The fourfold increase in the sentence was substantively unreasonable
and failed to balance her lifetime of contribution to the community and
country with the criminal act of which she was convicted.
III The Judge’s findings of Perjury and Misuse of her position as an Attorney on which he also based the increase, were error.
Lynne Stewart” must remain the rallying cry of all those who cherish
civil liberties and democratic rights. Stewart, like so many others, but
perhaps among the first tier, was a victim of the government-promoted
malicious and murderous “war on terror” aimed at stifling all dissent
and imprisoning the innocent to justify its wars against working people
at home and against the oppressed and exploited across the globe.
Write Stewart at:
Lynne Stewart 53504-054
Ft. Worth, Texas
Contributions can be made payable to the:
Lynne Stewart Organization
1070 Dean Street
Brooklyn, New York 11216
Jeff Mackler is the West Coast Coordinator of the Lynne Stewart Defense Committee
Lynne Stewart autobiographical essay
My name is Lynne Stewart and I am currently jailed by the US government
at, Federal Medical Center, a medical prison in Texas. I am serving a
ten year sentence. Before this I was a top criminal defense lawyer in
New York City for many decades.
Like so many others, I came
to "the city" from somewhere else --not Kansas or Iowa, but only a
subway ride away -- Eastern Queens, white Queens of the nineteen
fifties. In l961 I lived with my infant daughter, Brenna, on Broome
Street near Pitt with a view of the Williamsburg Bridge. The Lower East
Side was the beginning of a post graduate education which was advanced
in depth and racist enlightenment the following Fall when I began as an
elementary school librarian in the heart of Black Harlem. My
experiences there and as part of the activist militant movement of the
1960s -- particularly community control of schools; anti Viet Nam war,
my meeting and partnership with Ralph Poynter, my husband; my subsequent
move to PS 64 on 9 Street and Avenue C and the challenge of fighting
the problems of my own neighbors and community -- all contributed to
changing a very savvy innocent into a woman warrior for people's and
particularly children's rights.
By the early '70s the
thrilling spirit of the 60's, and particularly our struggle around the
schools, was dying -- co-opted and blatantly coldly bought off.
"Comrades" we thought were at the barricades shoulder to shoulder with
us, were more interested in a job or an apartment or a political
appointment than in saving the children, even their own. (The beginning
of the "I got mine" mentality that has morphed into the privileged
1%.) I was in a quandary: Should I squander my talents shoring up an
educational system that was racist and doomed children to future
failures or should I move on?
I will never forget the day I
went, after school, to his storefront motorcycle shop to talk to Ralph.
I told him that I felt if I remained in the school system I would end
up an eccentric, a shopping bag lady, driven mad by the daily wanton
cruelty and racism. He said, "Well, what do you want to do?" (At that
moment, I had two children and he had four and I was expecting our
youngest. He had a struggling small business.) I said "You know I
always wanted to be a lawyer, go to law school." He said, with no
hesitation, "Then I guess you better do it." And I did. Our baby girl
was born in April 1971. I started Rutgers Law School with a scholarship
(a full ride, as the young people say today) in September, and was
fortunate to find Arthur Kinoy, a renowned Constitutional law scholar
and a warrior of the Civil Rights legal struggle in Mississippi, as a
teacher. Thirty years later when the government came after me, Arthur
accorded me my highest accolade when at a public rally he said I was the
Peoples' Lawyer. And I was.
I don't want to present my
career to you -- that's for another day. I can say that for thirty years
I practiced law as I lived my life according to principles of love and
service, that which we talk about every Sunday at St. Marks, the “do
unto others” and the "love your brothers and sisters as yourself," and
according to the principles of Justice that have become part of my life
from my years of Political Struggle. I had a forum to fight in -- the
courtroom -- and I loved every minute of it.
Many of you know
that the U.S. came after me for being too good a lawyer for my clients,
and when representing Dr. Omar Abdel Rahman, an Egyptian Muslim cleric,
accused of terrorism on the word of a double agent, I made a press
release to Reuters News on his behalf. He had been a leader in the
anti-Mubarak, free Egypt movement for twenty years and the news release
was to express his views of the current situation in Egypt, publicly.
For this I was convicted of aiding terrorism. It is a joy to me that
the Arab Spring that ousted Mubarak and the continuation of the Egyptian
quest for true democracy has put the lie, and the shame to the U.S.
When I spoke earlier of the philosophy I espoused
during my career, I think it was best expressed in a speech I gave to
the National Lawyers Guild Convention. I stated the following;
have formidable enemies not unlike those in the tales of ancient days.
There is a consummate evil that unleashes its dogs of war on the
helpless; an enemy motivated only by insatiable greed, with no thought
of consequences. In this enemy there is no love of the land or the
creatures that live there, no compassion for the people. This enemy will
destroy the air we breathe and the water we drink as long as the
dollars keep filling up their money boxes.
...we have been charged once again, with, and for, our quests, ... to shake the very foundations of the continents.
go out to stop police brutality - To rescue the imprisoned - To change
the rules for those who have never ever been able to get to the
starting line much less run the race, because of color, physical condition, gender, mental impairment.
We go forth to preserve the air and land and water and sky and all the beasts that crawl and fly.
go forth to safeguard the right to speak and write, to join; to learn,
to rest safe at home, to be secure, fed, healthy, sheltered, loved and
loving, to be at peace with ones identity.
... Our quests are
formidable. We have in Washington a poisonous government that spreads
its venom to the body politic in all corners of the globe. We have war -
big war in Iraq, big war in Afghanistan, smaller wars in Columbia,
Central Africa, Southeast Asia. We have detainees and political
prisoners at home and now ... we have those Democratic and Republican
conventions and then an election, with the corporate media ready to hype
the results and drown out the righteous protests.”
have quests and they are not those that can only be accomplished by
lawyers. They are for everyone. I am still fighting from inside the
prison -- speaking out for the underdogs and those who are always kicked
to the curb.
I want to be in the real world (although this
is real enough) to be able to organize everyone to the terrible torture
and tragedy of prisons and particularly, the brave men and women, of the
struggles of the '60s who are held in the harshest conditions and have
been for 30 or more years --to name a few, Sundiata Acoli, Leonard
Peltier, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Jaan Laaman, Mutulu Shakur, Herman Wallace and
Albert Woodfox. Many more political prisoners are listed on the
I too confronted the Judges who thought
that my original sentence was too light for my "crime" on February 29 in
the Federal Court at Foley Square. It was good that many people came
to demonstrate collectively our contempt for this kind of prosecution
and our recognition that their punishment of true defenders will not
deter the brave warriors who seek Justice!