R.I.P. Lynne Stewart

Outspoken criminal defense lawyer and civil rights champion Lynne Stewart has passed away at age 77 following her years long struggle with cancer. A NY federal judge granted a motion by the Government for compassionate release on Dec. 31, 2013, due to her terminal condition. Just a few months earlier, he had ruled that he could not grant her release without a request from the Bureau of Prisons. The U.S. Attorney in NY filed a request from the Bureau of Prisons.

Last month, her client in the case that resulted in her conviction and imprisonment, Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, (the "Blind Sheikh") died in prison where he was serving a life sentence for conspiring to blow up NYC landmarks. The cause of death was heart disease and diabetes, according to officials at Butner, North Carolina, where he was incarcerated. He was 78 and had been imprisoned since 1995: [More...]

He had been incarcerated since 1995 for his advisory role in a failed plot to blow up Manhattan landmarks, including U.N. headquarters, as well as a key bridge and two heavily traveled highway tunnels leading into the city. His stated goal was to interfere with U.S. support for Israel and for Egypt.

Stewart was initially convicted in 2005 of assisting terrorism by confirming information received from her imprisoned client, Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, to his followers in Egypt, at a news conference. She had signed a "SAMS" regulation agreeing not to do so.

Although the Judge had initially dismissed the terrorism charge (opinion here), the Government filed a Superseding Indictment, charging her, the interpreter and one of the Sheikh's supporters, with providing material support to terrorists. All were convicted. (The translator's conviction was widely viewed as perplexing, if not unsupported.)

The evidence was largely based on her recorded conversations with her client at the jail. Attorney-client conversations became subject to recording under rules instituted by then AG John Ashcroft after 9/11. (Here is Ashcroft's regulation, 66 Fed. Reg. 55062 (Oct. 31, 2001)). Here's why it's bad.

She was initially sentenced to 28 months. On appeal, the Second Circuit affirmed her conviction but remanded the case back to the trial court for reconsideration of her sentence. and eventually was re-sentenced to ten years.

Here is a 2002 profile of Lynne, "Left Behind", in the New York Times Magazine.

R.I.P. Lynne Stewart.

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    from NPR (none / 0) (#1)
    by CaptHowdy on Wed Mar 08, 2017 at 07:33:34 PM EST
    The New York Times described her appearance during the trial, which became a major news event:

    "Belying the image of a dangerous radical, Ms. Stewart, a short, round-faced woman, often arrived at court wearing a New York Mets cap and a floral-print housedress, dangling a cloth tote bag rather than the lawyer's typical briefcase and inevitably drawing a clutch of news photographers."
    Descriptions of Stewart as "grandmotherly" angered her opponents, the newspaper added, "who insisted that such a description distracted the public from seeing the ally of terrorists they saw."

    i know a couple of pretty dangerous grandmothers.  also this:

    Stewart, who defended Black Panthers and Weather Underground members over the course of her career and considered herself a "people's lawyer," is perhaps best known for representing Egyptian cleric Omar Abdel Rahman in his trial over plotting to attack New York City landmarks.

    i sometimes forget my friends and heros were the "radical islamists" of the 60s & 70s

    i honestly didnt know much about this lady until the links here recently.

    My comment on Lynne Stewart's passing (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Peter G on Wed Mar 08, 2017 at 11:24:31 PM EST
    appeared here, on an earlier thread.

    Public hysteria is never a good thing. (none / 0) (#2)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Wed Mar 08, 2017 at 07:39:02 PM EST
    While Lynne Stewart clearly had a personal lapse in professional judgment, it's certainly not one that justified her entirely punitive 10-year sentence in federal court, which I blame on that self-induced hysteria. Ironically, were it not for her criminal conviction, I never would have heard of her, which then prompted me to seek more information about her. What a unique, marvelous and fearless woman she was! I would have loved to have met her and known her. May she rest in peace.