Lawyer Lynne Stewart Resentenced to 10 Years

A federal judge in New York today resentenced criminal defense attorney Lynne Stewart to ten years in prison.

The sentence was the latest grim chapter in a long odyssey for Ms. Stewart, who was convicted in 2005 of assisting terrorism by smuggling information from an imprisoned client to violent followers in Egypt.

Ms. Stewart, 70, who has breast cancer and was given time to seek treatment before her first sentencing in 2006, said Thursday that incarceration was wearing her down. “It’s a death sentence,” her husband, Ralph Poynter, said outside the courtroom.

The Government had requested 15 to 30 years. 400 people wrote letters on Lynne's behalf. [More...]

As to her misconduct:

In 2000, Stewart broke her agreement to abide by measures set by the Department of Justice and Bureau of Prisons stipulating that Abdel-Rahman not be permitted any contact with his organization, Islamic Group. After visiting Abdel-Rahman in prison, Stewart passed on a message from him to his Islamic Group followers. The message that Islamic Group should reconsider a cease-fire in attacks against the Egyptian government. Stewart was disbarred in 2007 and began serving her 28-month sentence in November 2009.

The Judge's reasons:

During a 2 1/2 hour hearing on Thursday, Koeltl took note of Stewart's age, her fight with breast cancer and the unlikelihood of her repeating her actions. He underscored her commitment to serving poor and unpopular clients.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Dember told the judge "she's just frankly, your honor, another criminal who refuses to accept responsibility for what she did."

My view: Ten years is totally uncalled for and over the top, by any standard.

More views I agree with here. Our full coverage is available here.

For more, visit Justice for Lynne Stewart.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Tragic (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by squeaky on Thu Jul 15, 2010 at 09:47:32 PM EST
    She should be awarded a nobel peace prize instead of a prison (death) sentence.

    what (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Socraticsilence on Fri Jul 16, 2010 at 07:20:46 AM EST
    she passed along a message that attempted to encourage terrorism. I guess she'd fit in the Kissinger, Arafat sense but other than that?

    That's not correct (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Peter G on Fri Jul 16, 2010 at 09:01:37 AM EST
    The prosecutors pressed for a "terrorism enhancement" in the sentence, and the judge after examining it, found that this was not Stewart's intent and refused to apply it.  The prosecutors appealed, and that was one of the issues Judge Koetl was directed to reconsider.  According to what I read, he did reconsider the "terrorism" issue again carefully and again -- even while substantially increasing the original sentence for other reasons -- ruled against the government on this one.  I very much doubt that you know better, SS. In fact, this might be an issue on which you could considering maintaining that fabled "silence" that Socrates teaches.

    The info is confusing (none / 0) (#6)
    by waldenpond on Fri Jul 16, 2010 at 09:57:15 AM EST
    The article references (as do most writers) the passing of info along with the obstruction of justice and makes it seem that it was part of the charge against her.

    The judge was kind of caught (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by Peter G on Thu Jul 15, 2010 at 09:56:06 PM EST
    between a rock and a hard place, so to speak.  The court of appeals had sent the case back with pretty strong instructions to increase the original 28-month sentence.  The dissenting judge on the appeal panel had wanted to direct the imposition of a 30-year term.  The prosecutors were demanding at least 15 years. Judge Koetl may have felt 10 years was the least he could give and avoid another appeal.  It also didn't help that right after the judge imposed the original sentence, Lynne announced that she could "do that standing on my head."  This didn't make it sound exactly like she felt she was being punished.  The time of arrest is not the only phase of the process during which we defense lawyers wish our clients would just keep their mouths shut.

    What can be said about Lynne Stewart's fate? (none / 0) (#4)
    by szielinski on Fri Jul 16, 2010 at 07:30:15 AM EST
    It's not the lowest point reached by the Federal government during the 9.11 aftermath. It is fortunate that she has not been made to endure daily water-boarding sessions while in prison.

    Well, torture like water boarding (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by KeysDan on Fri Jul 16, 2010 at 10:02:35 AM EST
    is one of those things that will "hurt me more than it will hurt you", according to Judge Jay Bybee's testimony before the House Judiciary Committee in newly disclosed testimony taken May 26.  Bybee defended the  "muscular view of presidential authority" taken by Yoo and him, but regrets the "enormous pressures on me both professionally and personally.  It has had an impact on my family  And, I regret as a result of my government service, that that kind of attention has been visited on me and on my family."  NYT, 7/16.

    you know what (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Capt Howdy on Fri Jul 16, 2010 at 11:33:46 AM EST
    I bet there are people in custody who regret "that that kind of attention has been visited on me and on my family."

    I would say unbelievable but sadly it isnt.


    April Glaspie's message to Saddam caused Golf War1 (none / 0) (#9)
    by Yes2Truth on Fri Jul 16, 2010 at 11:39:08 AM EST
    On behalf of the U.S. State Dept. & Sec. James Baker, then Amb. to Eye Rack, April Glaspie (from Vancouver, B.C./Canada) passed a message to Soddom Whose Sayin', that the U. Snakes had "no opinion on your Arab to Arab border dispute" - referring to Iraq's objections to the slant drilling & theft of Iraqi oil by Coo Wait.

    Result?  RESULTS!! Iraq invaded Kuwait (most inconvenient to the Emir lover of young teenage girls), and shortly thereafter, the U.S. started killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.

    Mrs. Stewart's sin pales in comparison.

    purpose of jail (none / 0) (#10)
    by diogenes on Fri Jul 16, 2010 at 09:26:40 PM EST
    1.  Maybe she probably wouldn't do it again since she's likely been disbarred.
    2.  However, another point of a long sentence is to deter others.  Sort of like the point of a long sentence given to Bernard Madoff (what's the likelihood that he'd start another Ponzi scheme?).

    government sins against humanity-one by one (none / 0) (#12)
    by Palli on Mon Jul 19, 2010 at 07:21:40 AM EST
    The government idea of punishment as a deterrence against individual moral decision making  damages the very fiber of humanity - the basis for community and the idea of the general good.