Defending Lynn Stewart
Fox News Sr. Judicial Analyst Andrew Napolitano rocks today in his passionately defense of New York defense attorney Lynne Stewart in the New York Times.
Ms. Stewart's constitutional right to speak to the news media about a matter of public interest is absolute and should prevent the government from prosecuting her. And since when does announcing someone else's opinion about a cease-fire - as Ms. Stewart did, saying the sheik no longer supported one that had been observed in Egypt - amount to advocating an act of terrorism?
In truth, the federal government prosecuted Lynne Stewart because it wants to intimidate defense lawyers into either refusing to represent accused terrorists or into providing less than zealous representation. After she was convicted, Ms. Stewart said, "You can't lock up the lawyers, you can't tell the lawyers how to do their jobs."
No doubt the outcome of this case will have a chilling effect on lawyers who might represent unpopular clients. Since 9/11 the federal government's message has been clear: if you defend someone we say is a terrorist, we may declare you to be one of them, and you will lose everything.
The Stewart conviction is a travesty. She faces up to 30 years in prison for speaking gibberish to her client and the truth to the press. It is devastating for lawyers and for any American who may ever need a lawyer. Shouldn't the Justice Department be defending our constitutional freedoms rather than assaulting them?
Civil liberties expert Elaine Cassel says the Stewart verdict stretches the definition of terrorism to new limits.
Now, however, the First and Sixth Amendments have been gutted—at least in terms of the attorney-client relationship. Indeed, as I argued in the first article I wrote about Stewart, the government seems to be conducting an all-out assault on the right to counsel.
Defense attorneys who represent alleged terrorists – or even detainees who are merely suspected of some connection to terrorism—now know that the government may listen in on their attorney-client communications. They also know that this eavesdropping may give rise to evidence that may be used in their own prosecution for terrorism if they cross the imaginary line drawn by the government. How can these attorneys be zealous advocates with this government-inspired fear overshadowing their every word?
They're both right.
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