Wakeup Call: The Outrageous and Ominous Sentencing of Lynne Stewart


By Elaine Brower


July 16, 2010

Note
– on July 15, radical lawyer Lynne Stewart was sentenced to 10 years in
prison. In February 2005, Lynne had been convicted on 7 counts of
"conspiracy, providing material support to terrorists, and defrauding
the U.S. government".

The
government had alleged that Lynne had facilitated communication between
a man she was defending in court, fundamentalist Islamic cleric Omar
Abdel Rahman, and people in Egypt.

 
The
judge in Lynne’s trial sentenced her to 28 months in prison. An appeal
to the conviction and sentencing resulted in a different judge
upholding the conviction, while ordering a re-sentencing that was not
"trivial", since Lynne had "indicated a lack of remorse". After her
sentencing, her prosecutor praised the work of the FBI’s New York
Joint Terrorism Task Force for its role in the persecution of Lynne Stewart, and thanked U.S. Bureau of Prisons for its assistance.
 
Words
Lynne Stewart spoke after her original conviction still ring true: "I
see myself as being a symbol of what the people rail against when they
say our civil liberties are eroded. This case could be, I hope it will
be, a wakeup call to all of the citizens of this country and all of the
people who live here that you can’t lock up the lawyers. You can’t tell
the lawyers how to do their job. You’ve got to let them operate. And I
will fight on. I am not giving up. I know I commited no crime. I know
what I did was right."
 
The
following article was written by World Can’t Wait Steering Committee
member Elaine Brower, who was present at the sentencing.

 

The Veil is Lifted, The Gloves Are Off
 
By Elaine Brower
 
On Thursday, at United States District Court in downtown Manhattan, I witnessed the sentencing hearing of attorney Lynne Stewart. I only had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Stewart five years ago, along with Ralph, her jovial and loving husband. 
 
I
never had the honor of Lynne Stewart defending me in court, but during
the course of the last 5 years, I met many people who did. The
courtroom was packed, with 2 overflow rooms also filled to capacity. 
 
Walking
into the marble and mahogany building, which I am no stranger to since
I work next door, gave me an eerie feeling I’d never experienced. A two
story high bronze "Lady Justice" statue sat in the main entrance,
greeting everyone who entered. But it did not give me comfort, it only
once again reminded me of the many icons of worship this country erects
to deflect the true nature of the beast underneath. I thought to myself
"I’d love to hang a huge banner right in the middle of her 2 story
chest with a big $ sign!"
 
I
sat in the elaborate overflow room, with all of Lynne’s supporters. She
pleaded for the court’s mercy by presenting her statement to the
judge. In it, she declared that she no longer had a relationship with
her grandson, who could not visit her any longer in the horrible
prison. She said she felt alone, and withdrawn. Only when her friends
and family came to visit for one hour a week did she rejuvenate for a
short period, but then would retreat back into somberness and sadness. 
 
At
one point she choked up when saying that if the court decided to
sentence her to anytime longer than the original 28 months, it would be
a like imposing the "death sentence". She reiterated that many times,
in so many different ways. She threw herself at the "mercy" of the
judge.
 
Then
the US Attorney stood up and for 30 minutes recounted the details of
the entire trial, repeating hundreds of times "we were attacked on
9/11", and "Ms. Stewart gave comfort to Islamic terrorists." These
references were the cornerstone of the prosecution’s argument, and he
couldn’t say it enough. In every way, he connected Lynn with the
terrorist "murder groups", and in reality tried to paint her as a
terrorist. He said "the government trusted her as a lawyer, and she
shouldn’t have been trusted." He referred endless times to the DVD of
her press conference prior to her remand to prison in 2009, and
referenced her statements that she had "no remorse."  
 
Lucky
for me I was in an overflow room. I commented, loudly, how I hoped this
guy would get the pox, and I wasn’t alone. People booed, and said he
better not come into their neighborhoods. How could he sleep at
night? I would be embarrassed to be in his shoes. Is there no dignity?
 
Well,
I will answer my own rhetorical questions. There is no dignity in this
system. There is no justice in this system. There never was, and never
will be. There is only hatred, fear, and an elite system of
injustice. The judge is only a puppet of the state and did what he was
told to do. The prosecutor is a prostitute and regurgitates enough
bullshit to make people afraid enough to go home and lock their doors
so they too won’t wind up like Lynn Stewart. When she was wrongfully
sentenced to 10 years behind bars, there should have been a riot in the
courtroom. Instead, everyone left.
 
Folks,
it has always been like this. I didn’t live through the McCarthy era,
and was happy I didn’t. I am a child of the 60’s and the radicalness of
the 70’s. I thought, in my naiveté, that this country stood for
something good, and protected freedom of speech, the rights of people
of color to live and work without the threat of police oppression, and
most of all, it was a nation that was accepting and tolerant of those
who came here from all over the world to experience the "American
dream." 
 
What
a bunch of crap. It has always been a bad system. Sometimes there would
be breakthroughs in civil rights, or women’s rights, but those where
aberrations. Not the norm. The system would again rise up to take it
all away, because it wasn’t meant to be fair and just for all people,
only those who are the elite in this society. It always brings me back
to how this country was founded, on the blood of those who already
lived here. 
 
And
so it goes, we see the true face of American justice. Take a good look
while the veil is lifted, because it will be dropped again, and you
will be fooled into thinking if only we had more hope.

Link: www.worldcantwait.net/index.php/home-mainmenu-289/6512-wakeup-call-the-outrageou
   s-and-ominous-sentence-of-lynne-stewart

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