Lynne Stewart Terror Trial: Opening Arguments Today

The Prosecution's and Michael Tigar's opening arguments from today in the Lynne Stewart trial are available online here . You might want to bookmark the site, Cryptome.org, as they have been putting all the jury selection and pre-trial hearing transcripts online daily. They post the transcripts the same day.

Michael Tigar's opening line:

Members of the jury, for 40 years in this town Lynne Stewart right here has been building for justice and not for terror. And when the end of the case comes and I stand before you, I submit that the evidence will show that anybody who says different, claims different, argues different, either sees these things very differently, is relying on faulty intelligence or is acting from an outright desire to mislead you.

Tigar is one of the nation's great trial lawyers. In the Terry Nichols' federal trial, in which he succeeded in obtaining a life verdict vs. death for Nichols, his theme was that Terry Nichols was building a life, not a bomb.

Here's some snippets. They have the transcript page numbers in them because we don't have the time to strip them.

11 Members of the jury, Lynne Stewart did not conspire to defraud the
12 United States. She did not join any conspiracy to assist
13 terrorists. She did not criminally assist any terrorists. She
14 was the courageous and honorable lawyer as provided under our
15 Constitution for an accused terrorist. That's the simple heart
16 of this case....

10 Lynne Stewart was the lead trial lawyer for Sheikh
11 Abdel Rahman. A federal judge in this building appointed her,
12 and former Attorney General of the United States, as counsel.
13 A jury sitting in a room just like this one convicted Sheikh
14 Abdel Rahman of serious crimes, including trying to blow up
15 buildings and advocating blowing up buildings. He was put in
16 prison under a life sentence. These are facts. We are not
17 here to argue about them. We don't challenge them. If anyone
18 wants to provide details about that, so be it. You will hear
19 evidence from that trial. We may present some ourselves to
20 present a full picture.....

5 Lynne Stewart believes and throughout her career has
6 believed that if the government wants to put anybody in jail
7 that they better give them a fair trial. She believes that if
8 the government can take anybody they wanted to and just put
9 them in jail and treat them any way they wanted that this
10 country would be a very dangerous place indeed. She believes
11 it is the duty of lawyers to stand up for fair and decent and
12 just and right treatment for her clients no matter how hated
13 they may be and no matter what they have done.
14 She believes that America is made stronger when the
15 world sees that it treats even the most despised people fairly.
16 In every courtroom where Lynne Stewart has ever worked
17 throughout her life there is a judge and there are prosecutors
18 and there are jurors and there are defense counsel. It is not
19 easy sometimes to have any of those jobs because a lot of
20 people tend to mix up the lawyer's duty with the client's
21 alleged behavior....

22 So members of the jury, I want, please, to invite you
23 on a journey to see what was involved in this case in the daily
24 life of a lawyer, what she did, how she did it, and why she did
25 it, and we don't shrink from a discussion of any of it. This
1 will not be anything like the television lawyer shows, and I
2 don't think it is going to be anything like the lawyer jokes
3 that everybody likes either. This is reality. On trials you
4 see, somebody has to go first. In this case, as in every case
5 where the government is claiming somebody did something wrong,
6 they go first, the prosecutors. Maybe because they have the
7 burden of trying to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.....

2 I'll say something else about the evidence. Lynne
3 Stewart is in law enforcement. Really? Yes. Lynne Stewart,
4 the lawyer, enforces what she believes to be the most important
5 laws in our country, the Constitution and its bill of rights.
6 Lynne Stewart, members of the jury, is a New Yorker. That will
7 be obvious, as obvious as it has been to the judges and jurors
8 and clients in the courtrooms where she spends her time. She
9 has so many years of experience dealing with prosecutors and
10 other lawyers, talking to juries, drawn from all parts of this
11 diverse community. She is brash, opinionated and, aside from
12 her law practice, deeply involved in the political and social
13 issues of her community....

8 You know there is a letter Sheikh Abdel Rahman sent
9 back in 1996 and what he said was I want a Braille watch and I
10 want a Braille compass. I want to know what time of day to
11 pray. He wanted to feel the sun on his face. He wanted to
12 know what time to perform his religious obligation. But my
13 goodness me, he was a prisoner and he had been convicted of
14 doing horrific things. What was he owed by the system? But
15 Lynne Stewart understood what her client wanted. You will see
16 government officials that understood that and she is a
17 compassionate and brave and skillful and honorable lawyer and
18 she understood that if ever their client was to have any of
19 that, which everything else having been taken from him as a
20 consequence of his own criminality -- as a consequence of his
21 own criminality -- if ever he was to have any of that, to feel
22 this Egyptian sun on his face at the hour of prayer, that he
23 shouldn't be joining up with any conspiracies, only the truth
24 and the law would open that opportunity. And what these
25 lawyers courageously believed was that if that opportunity were
1 opened up and he were taken out of this country and to another
2 one, that that would show the United States and the world as a
3 place not afraid to deal creatively with its adversaries and
4 would remove this lightening rod from our custody.

Tigar ended his argument. Trial resumes tomorrow.

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