[See protest information below.]
BY JEFF MACKLER
July 7, 2010
The full force of the U.S. criminal "justice" system is today aimed
at innocent political prisoner, 30-year human rights attorney and
radical political activist Lynne Stewart. On July 15 Federal District
Court John Koeltl, who in 2005 sentenced Stewart to 28 months in
prison following her frame-up trial and jury conviction on four
counts of "conspiracy to aid and abet terrorism, is set to reconsider
Koeltl was ordered to do so when his relatively short sentence was
vacated by a two-judge majority of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the
Second Circuit. Judges Robert D. Sack and Guido Calabresi ruled that
Koeltl's sentence was flawed because he had declined to determine
whether Stewart committed perjury when she testified at her trial
that she believed that she was effectively operating under a "bubble"
protecting her from prosecution when she issued a press release on
behalf of her client, the blind Sheik Omar Abdel Rachman.
Dissenting Judge John M. Walker, who called Stewart's sentence,
"breathtakingly low" in view of Stewart's "extraordinarily severe
criminal conduct" deemed the Second Circuit's majority opinion
"substantively unreasonable." Walker essentially sought to impose a
30-year sentence on Stewart.
The three-judge panel on Dec. 20 followed its initial ruling with
even tougher language demanding that Koeltl revisit his treatment of
the "terrorism enhancement" aspects of the law.
This was followed by yet a third Second Circuit effort, this one to
call an en banc hearing to throw the book at Stewart in a manner that
essentially turned any remand to Koeltl, who retains discretion in
his sentencing under an important U.S. Supreme Court ruling several
years ago, into a virtual order for an extended sentence.
While the en banc effort failed by a vote of 7-4, some judges used
the occasion to argue for qualitatively more prison time.
Government prosecutors, who in 2005 sought a 30-year sentence, have
submitted a 155-page memorandum arguing in support of their original
demand, a document that demonstrates how twisted logic coupled with
vindictive and lying government officials routinely turn the victim
into the criminal.
Stewart's attorneys, Liz Fink and Jill Shellow countered with a full
rendition of the facts of the case amply demonstrating that Stewart's
actions in defense of her client were well within the realm of past
practice and accepted procedures. They argued that Koeltl properly
exercised his discretion in determining that, while the terrorism
enhancement provisions of the "law" had to be taken into
consideration, the 30-year-prison term associated with it was
"dramatically unreasonable" and "overstated the seriousness" of
Fink and Shellow argued convincingly that the Special Administrative
Measure (SAM) that Stewart was convicted of violating by releasing a
statement from her client to the media was well within the
established practice of Stewart's experienced and mentoring
co-counsels– former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark and past
American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee president Abdeen Jabarra.
Both had issued similar statements to the press with no government reprisal.
As worst in such matters, government officials refuse defense
attorney visiting rights with their clients until an agreement on the
meaning of a SAM is reached. Indeed, in Stewart's case when the
matter was brought to then Attorney General Janet Reno, the
government declined to prosecute or otherwise take any action against Stewart.
But in the post-911 generated climate of political hysteria five
years later, Bush appointee, Attorney General John Ashcroft, decided
to make an example of Stewart, an example aimed at warning future
attorney's that the mere act of defending anyone whom the government
charged with "conspiracy to aid and abet terrorism," could
trigger grave consequences.
On July 15 Judge Koelt will make the decision of his lifetime. Known
for his meticulous preparation in such matters, and already having
enraged the powers that be with his "light" sentence of Stewart, he
will either bend to the heavy political pressure exerted on him from
several quarters or reaffirm his original opinion. Should he do so
Stewart, 70, and in poor health, can be expected to leave prison in
less than two years, recover, and lead a productive life. An extended
sentence would likely lead to her demise behind bars – a brilliant
and dedicated fighter sacrificed on the alter of capitalist vengeance.
Courage is a rare quality in the capitalist judiciary. For every
defiant decision made, usually driven by a change in the political
atmosphere stemming from the emergence of mass social protest
movements, there are thousands that affirm the status quo, including
its punishment of all who dissent from capitalist prerogatives and power.
Lynne Stewart stands tall among them. We can only hope that the winds
of change that are stirring the consciousness of millions today in
the context of an American capitalism in economic and moral crisis
catches Koeltl's attention and assists in his doing the right thing.
JOIN US to Support Lynne Stewart
Save these Dates !!!!
July 8, 2010 – 6pm – 10pmVoicing Support for Lynne will be :
Fred Hampton Jr.
Pam AfricaRalph SchoenmanJuanita YoungSara Flounders
and many more !!!!!!!
Judson Memorial Church
55 Washington Square So.
NY, NY 10012
http://www.judson.org/This is a fundraiser, suggested donation is $20.00
July 14, 2010
5:30pm March from Tom Paine Park (Worth St. between Centre & Lafayette Streets)
3 blocks to Metropolitan Correctional Center
(MCC- where Lynne is detained)
7-9pm Vigil in Support of Lynne at Metropolitan Correctional Center
150 Park Row, NY NY
July 15, 2010 : SENTENCING DAY
Sentencing is at 2:30pm, we will be there at 11am
500 Pearl Street
Doors will open at 2pm
LET'S PACK THE COURT!!!Write to LYNNE STEWART at:
Lynne Stewart 53504-054MCC-NY 2-S
150 Park Row
New York, NY 10007