Lynne Stewart Trial:Michael Tigar's Closing

Michael Tigar has finished his two day closing argument in the Lynne Stewart trial. The prosecution began its rebuttal closing Tuesday and the jury should get the case Wednesday:

Michael Tigar, finished his closing argument on behalf of civil rights lawyer Lynne Stewart by saying he feared Islamic or other fundamentalists were going to win -- but not through usual means. He said the authors of the Bill of Rights were "not cowards," and he portrayed his client as a hero for more than 30 years of work on behalf of people who were often destitute or despised.

"Suppose we got so worked up, so incited by the rhetoric of government, that we decided to punish people for their radical politics because their politics scared us or their religious doctrine appalled us," he said.

Tigar said such an attitude might cause people to "skip over reasonable doubt and do things based on suspicion," casting aside the presumption of innocence. "If all that happened, members of the jury, the fundamentalists would have won," he added. "They would have seen extinguished the light of this last hope of earth, which is not some particular country, but it is the very ideology of human rights." He said such a result would be cheered by Islamic fundamentalists.

What's really at stake in the Lynne Stewart case? Your constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel. Your right to zealous representation by the counsel of your choice. Your right to speak to your attorney in confidence, without the Government listening in.

The case also is important because of the threat it represents to the attorney-client privilege and attorney-client relationship. It is being watched closely by defense lawyers around the country because it will be a litmus test of the extent to which the Government will go in hampering efforts of defense lawyers who represent accused terrorists. That's today. Tomorrow the Government might to decide to hamper our defense of you.

This isn't about the Left or some holdover '60's radical. It's about you and me and the American system of justice and respect for our Constitution. For more on the Stewart case, read civil liberties expert Elaine Cassel .

If you are not familiar with the case, it's about New York criminal defense attorney Lynne Stewart, who represented an imprisoned jailed sheikh who had been found guilty in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing case. In a nutshell, there was a gag order imposed by the Bureau of Prisons. She may have violated it when she held a press conference at which she announced her client was calling for the end of a ceasefire between his Islamic fundamentalist faction and the Egyptian Government. As a result of her statement about the Sheik calling for the end to the ceasefire, she was charged with aiding a terrorist organization.

Much of the evidence against her comes from taped conversations she had with her client at the jail.

More than 85,000 audio recordings of voice calls, faxes and computer transmissions were made by the government during its seven-year investigation as it worked to build a case that Stewart and the three men were conduits for the sheikh to his terrorist followers, and helped him, among other things, to communicate to them his desire for a resumption of terror attacks.

That kind of taping is more likely to happen now, since Ashcroft, in May, 2002, issued these guidelines to allow attorney-client monitoring of conversations.

Some of our prior posts on the case are here and here. More case details and news analysis are here and here.

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    Re: Lynne Stewart Trial:Michael Tigar's Closing (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 12:15:06 AM EST
    The Lynne Stewart case is a lost cause, because most poor have lost the right to a lawyer along time ago! Yes we should fight to keep what little rights we have, but the court will do her a number as usual. The constitutional rights we had are dead as can be, the privilege people will keep the rights once that we all had along time ago, but the myth of a free world and a fair court system and rights are about to be removed for good. And as far as speak your mind, you won't want to do that in front of some political police person, the propaganda will hit and she will do some time, and we will see the day when courts will only be something you go to before prison. As far as representation goes we don't really want that do we? after all just look at our government,I can't see any real Representation can you? oh maybe forign business and money and jobs being sold to Red china\middle east\indo china or mexico or on and on! but no real government just a business idea. some may say that is insane but just look at the facts, millions of homeless part time workers, and mothers and fathers working two jobs and more and more kids working to help the family, schools coming apart and prison now over 3 million, yes we can hope all will be ok for Stewart and maybe the world will be a good place, but i don't think so.

    Re: Lynne Stewart Trial:Michael Tigar's Closing (none / 0) (#3)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 06:54:00 AM EST
    Even if she is acquitted as I hope she will be, the prosecution must chill enthusiasm for defending political defendants. Who needs the expense and headache of avoiding conviction and jail for defending political defendants? Wonder why they never bothered to videotape OJ consulting with his attorneys? How about McVeigh's attorney? Was he aiding and abetting terrorism or providing a vigorous defense?

    Re: Lynne Stewart Trial:Michael Tigar's Closing (none / 0) (#4)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 08:11:55 AM EST
    There's no way the jury will find her not guilty. Lynne Stewart is going down!

    Re: Lynne Stewart Trial:Michael Tigar's Closing (none / 0) (#5)
    by Richard Aubrey on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 08:22:59 AM EST
    Conscious, was McVeigh's attorney facilitating communication between McVeigh and a terrorist organization? Doesn't seem to be any evidence that he was. Thus,there's a difference, and your obfuscating isn't going to change a lot of minds unless you have something on Jones the rest of us don't know about.

    Re: Lynne Stewart Trial:Michael Tigar's Closing (none / 0) (#6)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 09:06:05 AM EST
    Whether the person in question is innocent or guilty, the preservation of the individual's rights are vital to our justice system and our society. We protect these rights not to protect the murderer or the terrorist, we do this for our survival as a free people and nation. So don't see these aurguements as standing up for the alleged offender's right to do bad, we are trying to make sure we don't hurt ourselves in the process of dispensing justice. Humans don't always get things right, that's why debate is so important and when debate becomes the enemy of the system then those who govern have no accountability for the mistakes they make and become convinced they make no mistakes.

    Re: Lynne Stewart Trial:Michael Tigar's Closing (none / 0) (#7)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 09:56:38 AM EST
    If you were accused of a crime, do you think it would be OK for the prosecution to tape your discussions with your lawyer? Would it be OK for the prosecution to charge your lawyer with a crime for defending your right to a fair trial? Would it be OK for your lawyer to be charged with a crime for letting the public know what YOU thought about the accusations about you? Or about the state of the world? The whole point of a free, fair trial is that each person CHARGED is allowed to have full representation by an attorney. The attorney is SUPPOSED to represent the client and let the jury (and others) know what the client did (or did not do), and to stand up FOR the client. If Lynn Stewart can't stand up for her client, then the prosecution takes full charge of the case, with no protection for the client at all. If the client is guilty, that's up to judge and jury to determine. An ACCUSSATION of guilt should NOT be sufficient to CONVICT a client (or the client's lawyer).

    Re: Lynne Stewart Trial:Michael Tigar's Closing (none / 0) (#8)
    by Richard Aubrey on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 10:02:02 AM EST
    Actually, MS, you missed the point on purpose--you're not dumb. The point is that Lynn Stewart facilitated communication and direction from her client to a terrorist organization. That's illegal. You can try to misrepresent the issue, but it won't work.

    Re: Lynne Stewart Trial:Michael Tigar's Closing (none / 0) (#10)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 03:54:19 PM EST
    "The Lynne Stewart case is a lost cause, because most poor have lost the right to a lawyer along time ago!" Fred, you have your telescope flipped around in the wrong direction. Which might be an epidemic, but then again a lot of (so-thinking) Christians have their telescopes shoved so far in reverse they think an obscure book of prophesy shoehorned into the NT is calling the shots. "The arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice." This collimation of your surveying device brought to you by the American hero who was born in this month, MLK Jr., who certainly did not believe the human race was fated to be Homo defeatismus. Rather we are called out into the light of freedom to fight for what is just. Rumors of the demise of the true American patriot and true American citizen is premature. You need to join a local protest group, so you can drain away your sense of hopelessness in community with others (in a less troll-infected environment than this). Do some public work!! --