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February 24, 2005

2005.02.24: Stewart Verdict’s Threat To Defense Attorneys

Filed under: Civil Liberties,Criminal Justice,Racism,Uncategorized — nyclaw01 @ 10:45 am
Tags:

From: Michael Letwin
Sent: Thursday, February 24, 2005 10:31 AM
To: ALAA MEMBERS; Attendance
Subject: Stewart Verdict’s Threat To Defense Attorneys

http://www.counterpunch.org/cassel02142005.html

February 14, 2005
The Lynne Stewart Verdict
Stretching the Definition of “Terrorism” to New Limits

By ELAINE CASSEL

On February 10, after thirteen days of deliberations, a federal jury in New York City returned a guilty verdict in the case of 65-year-old attorney Lynne Stewart. The jury found Stewart guilty on five counts of defrauding the government, conspiracy, and providing support for terrorism.

Stewart will be sentenced on July 15. She may serve up to thirty years in prison. Appeals are expected to consume years. In the meantime, Stewart will lose her right to practice law and face hard prison time.

The eavesdropping on attorney-client communications that led to this prosecution would have been unimaginable before September 11. I will argue that this eavesdropping has a serious cost in inhibiting defense attorney’s ability to zealously represent their clients. This cost is of a constitutional dimension: The Sixth Amendment’s right to counsel cannot be served while the government is a third party present at attorney-client meetings.

Another problematic aspect of the Stewart prosecution is how far the definition of support for terrorism was stretched. Stewart never provided any financial support, weaponry — or any other concrete aid — for any act of terrorism. No act of terrorism is alleged to have resulted from her actions.

Stewart’s supposed support for terrorism instead consisted of aiding her client in 2000 by giving a press release to Reuters News Service in Cairo, Egypt, and of being present when her co-defendants allegedly aided her client in writing a series of letters.

The Facts of the Case

Stewart was appointed by a federal court to represent Egyptian Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman. Rahman was convicted of conspiring to commit acts of terrorism in New York City in the months after the 1993 World Trade Center bombings. But Stewart had nothing to do with that conspiracy.

Rahman is currently serving a life sentence in federal prison hospital in Colorado (previously, he was serving his sentence in Minnesota).

Stewart continued to represent Rahman, after he was convicted, and his appeals were denied. She has said that her representation had two main purposes. One was trying to improve the terms of the blind and diabetic Sheik’s confinement. Another was to try to convince the U.S. to return him to his home country, Egypt.

The government, however, claimed that her continued representation was a ruse so that she could aid the Sheik in getting messages out to his followers, members of the Islamic Group, an organization tied to terrorism.

For a time, the government simply denied Stewart access to her client. But in 2000, the Justice Department said that visits could resume if Stewart would agree to certain restrictions on their meetings.

These restrictions are known as Special Administrative Measures (SAMs). Pursuant to regulations enacted in 1996, these restrictions can be placed on a federal prisoner’s communications or contacts with the outside world – including visitors, and the media — when the government believes “that there is a substantial risk that a prisoner’s communications or contacts with persons could result in death or serious bodily injury to persons, or substantial damage to property that would entail the risk of death or serious bodily injury to persons.”

The SAMs prohibited Stewart from having any contact with her client that the Department of Justice deemed to be outside the scope of “legal representation” and prohibited Rahman from having contact with anyone outside prison walls except his wife. The SAMs specifically restricted his access to the media.

Stewart agreed to the SAMs – having little choice, as it was the only way she could visit her client.

What Stewart did not know what that after she signed the SAMs, the government began surveillance of her visits, first under the 1994 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant targeting her client, and then under specific regulations that allowed them to target her.

The Eavesdropping Regulation: How the Government Made Its Case

On October 31, 2001, Attorney General John Ashcroft, secretly amended the SAM regulations – without notice to the public. As amended, the regulations allow the Bureau of Prisons to conduct videotape and audiotape surveillance with respect to attorneys’ communications with people in federal custody.

There is no exception for attorney-client privileged communications; indeed, the regulations contemplate that these sacrosanct conversations will be the very ones surveilled. Moreover, the regulations apply not only to convicted persons, but also to defendants awaiting trial – and even detainees against whom no charges are even pending. Finally, the surveillance can be broad: It can done “to the extent determined to be reasonably necessary for the purpose of deterring future acts of violence or terrorism.”

No warrant is necessary for the surveillance to occur. Nor is specific notice to the attorney or the client that they will be monitored; according to the regulations. Rather, routine notice that their communications “may” be monitored is enough.

The government eavesdropped on Stewart’s communications with Rahman – and these communications, along with her subsequent communications with the media, are the sole basis for her conviction.

The government alleges that Stewart never intended to abide by the SAMs, and that – as, it say, it discovered by eavesdropping – she violated them in several ways.

Along with Mohammed Yousry, an interpreter, and Ahmed Abdel Sattar who sometimes acted in the role of a law clerk, the government alleges, Stewart tried to thwart the government’s surveillance. At trial, the government introduced surveillance tapes intending to demonstrate that Stewart served as a willing conduit for the Sheik, using her position as a lawyer as a smokescreen for illegal communications and conspiracies by people whose agenda she shared.

In particular, the government charges, Stewart violated the prohibition on outside contacts in two ways. First, it alleged in 2000, she released to Reuters News Service a statement from the Sheik to his followers saying that he was “withdrawing his support for a ceasefire that currently exists” with respect to violence that his followers in Egypt were engaged in (the cease-fire was declared after 58 tourists were slain in Luxor, Egypt, in a bid to win the sheik’s release). The government charged that the press release was a veiled message for the shiek’s followers to engage in violence. Reuters ran a story about the statement in Arab newspapers.

Second, the government says Stewart was present when Yousry and Sattar allegedly helped the Sheik compose letters that served as communications to his followers. (Notably, though, while Yousry and Sattar speak Arabic, it is undisputed that Stewart neither speaks nor understands Arabic.)

In closing arguments, Prosecutor Andrew Dember argued that Stewart and the co-defendants effectuated a virtual “jail-break,” in which Rahman did not actually get sprung from prison, but did get his messages of violence out to the world.

Yet no actual act of violence, terroristic or otherwise, has ever been linked to either the letters to the Sheik’s followers, or the statement by the Sheik given to Reuters.

Yousry was convicted on the same charges as Stewart; Sattar was convicted of conspiracy to murder civilians.

The Constitutional Issues The Eavesdropping Regulations Raise

Stewart herself was represented by famed civil rights and criminal defense attorney Michael Tigar. Tigar argued, on her behalf that the surveillance regulation was unconstitutional – and thus that evidence procured as a result of surveillance should not be admissible at Stewart’s trial. Although Tigar and Stewart lost their motion, their argument was a strong one.

The Sixth Amendment guarantees a criminal defendant’s right to counsel. The Ashcroft eavesdropping regulations are unprecedented in the way they interpose the government between a client and his or her attorney – and thus violate this right. How can a defendant be expected to speak openly and candidly with counsel, and contribute to his own defense, when the government is listening on every conversation, recording every gesture, following every move?

The trial judge in the case, John G. Koeltl, should have suppressed the eavesdropping evidence, but instead, he ruled against Stewart. He did, however, rule for her on another constitutional claim.

Judge Koeltl’s Rulings on the Terrorism Claims

Remember, Stewart was convicted of defrauding the government, conspiracy, and providing support for terrorism.

The “defrauding the government” charge was weak: It was based on the government’s allegation that Stewart never intended to abide by the SAMs, as she had agreed to do. But it seems likely that Stewart’s intention, instead, was to abide by the SAMs in order to continue to represent her client.

Moreover, the original terrorism charge against Stewart was unconstitutional, as Judge Koeltl held. Initially, Stewart was charged under a federal statute that prohibited providing “material support” for terrorism – regardless of one’s intent in doing so.

The government said Stewart violated the statute by making Rahman’s message available to the press. (Where was the “material” support? The government said it came in the form of “personnel” – meaning, Stewart herself.)

Judge Koeltl wisely reasoned that to prosecute Stewart under this theory was unconstitutional. She lacked sufficient notice that the statute would be applied this way – to prohibit a news release, rather than, say, the provision of weaponry. He ruled that the statute applied to the facts of Stewart’s case was too vague to satisfy Due Process requirements.

So the government, as it explained in a press release, then indicted Stewart for the same acts again, under another federal statute – one that, unlike the first statute, requires intent.

Passed in 1994, after the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, the statute prohibits defines a violation as giving material support to anyone while intending or knowing that the support will be used in connection with any one of a list of violent crimes.

What violent crime did the government cite? It claimed Sattar was alleged to have been conspiring to commit terrorism abroad, urging Rahman’s followers to kill Jews. But again, no such crimes have ever been linked to the Reuters news release.

This time, Judge Koeltl found the statute, as applied, to be constitutional. But in doing so, he interpreted the intent standard to require very specific proof: proof that

Stewart knew she was providing resources to carry out a specific violent crime.

The Stewart Conviction is a Warning to Defense Attorneys

Stewart’s defense team had doubts that the prosecution could carry this strong burden of proof. Though the facts were basically not in dispute, Tigar argued that Stewart was acting as a zealous advocate.

The ABA’s Code of Professional Conduct demands zealousness of lawyers. It also mandates that lawyers make their services available to unpopular causes. Stewart was fulfilling both duties by agreeing to serve as court-appointed attorney for Rahman, the defense argued.

Stewart admitted she violated the SAMs, but she was duty-bound to do so, she said. What self-respecting defense attorney, she contended, would let a government restriction stand in the way of the confidential attorney-client relationship?

Through helping with the news release, Tigar maintained, Stewart, as his lawyer, was trying to keep her client’s case before the public and the government, and ultimately hoping to gain his release to Egypt.

The government countered, and the jury agreed, that when she so spoke, and aided her co-defendants in speaking, she was no longer acting as a lawyer. She was aiding and abetting terrorism.

Prior to September 11, 2001, many attorneys might have sided with Stewart. They would certainly have seen a blatant Sixth Amendment violation in both the SAMs and the eavesdropping regulations – and possibly seen First Amendment violations when it came to the SAMs. And they might also have agreed that to honor the right to counsel, an attorney ought to try to resurrect the traditional attorney-client relationship despite these unconstitutional constraints.

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?

If the attorneys are prosecuted, they can expect, at trial, to be conflated with their clients – just as Stewart was. The prosecution showed an old tape of Osama bin Laden promising revenge if Rahman were not released. In a courtroom only a short distance from Ground Zero, the tape must have meant a great deal. But it related to Rahman, not Stewart. Though Rahman may be a Bin Laden confederate, that does not mean his attorney is.

The larger issue here is not whether Stewart “stepped over the line” from lawyer to criminal co-conspirator, as the jury verdict implies. Nor is it whether terrorism fears caused the jury to reach an irrational verdict – as may well be the case. The larger issue is that those who face terrorism-related charges will now be entitled to a government-crippled defense.

The Ashcroft Justice Department showed disdain for attorneys–save its own. Unfortunately, the Gonzales Justice Department likely will be even worse on this score. Referring to the Stewart verdict, Gonzales was quick to warn that he would “pursue both those who carry out acts of terrorism and those who assist them with their murderous goals.” (Emphasis added.)

This is pure hyperbole – treating Stewart’s willingness to assist her client in putting out a press release as the moral equivalent of financing or arming terrorists. It furthers the lie that a terrorist’s lawyer, by zealously representing her client, at the same time aids and abets terrorism.

Hundreds of prisoners alleged to be terrorist combatants sit in cages and cells in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Every one, according to the Supreme Court, has the right to challenge his detention in federal court, through the ancient writ of habeas corpus.

What attorneys will risk their licenses –and life in prison –in order to protect their rights?

Elaine Cassel practices law in Virginia and the District of Columbia, teaches law and psychology, and follows the Bush regime’s dismantling of the Constitution at Civil Liberties Watch. Her new book The War on Civil Liberties: How Bush and Ashcroft Have Dismantled the Bill of Rights, is published by Lawrence Hill. She can be reached at: ecassel1@cox.net

February 18, 2005

2005.02.18: NYT Profile of Stewart’s Defense Attorney

From: Michael Letwin
Sent: Friday, February 18, 2005 10:23 AM
To: 1199 Members; ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: NYT Profile of Stewart’s Defense Attorney

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/18/nyregion/18profile.html?
The New York Times
February 18, 2005
PUBLIC LIVES
For Lawyer’s Lawyer, Loss Is Just the Beginning By JULIA PRESTON

MICHAEL TIGAR, a master of courtroom argument, says he resolved long ago that the trial of Lynne F. Stewart, in which he was her chief defense counsel, would be his last. He reaffirmed this decision with satisfaction, and some relief, in the Manhattan courtroom on Jan. 18, the day he turned 64.

Three weeks later the jurors came back with one of the most adverse verdicts Mr. Tigar has ever faced in a high-profile case. On Feb. 10 they convicted Ms. Stewart, a defense lawyer, and two co-defendants of all charges of aiding terrorism. They were found guilty of smuggling messages from an imprisoned terrorist client of Ms. Stewart’s, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, to his militant Islamic followers in Egypt.

In a four-decade career, Mr. Tigar has been the successful champion of diverse clients. He won an acquittal for Angela Davis, the black revolutionary, on murder charges in the 1970’s, and won again years later for Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, when she was accused of misconduct as the state’s treasurer. He got a life sentence instead of the death penalty for Terry Nichols, the accomplice in the Oklahoma City bombing. He received a lifetime achievement award in 1999 from the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Mr. Tigar agreed twice to speak about the trial, at length one evening before the verdict and briefly this week, after a few days pondering the outcome. While he sounded downcast, his view had not changed. His job, he said, was to “tell the story” of Ms. Stewart in a memorable and legally correct way so the civil rights issues he raised would resonate with the public and provide the foundation for any appeal.

Ms. Stewart’s trial closed a circle for Mr. Tigar. Its starting point was in 1969, when he first gained fame in the trial of the Chicago Seven, actually eight defendants accused of plotting to riot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Mr. Tigar, barely out of law school at the University of California at Berkeley, wrote the pretrial motions. Then, the famously cranky judge, Julius Hoffman, ordered him to represent Bobby Seale, a defendant, and had Mr. Tigar arrested for contempt when he refused. Mr. Tigar argued that Mr. Seale had a right to choose his own lawyer.

The Chicago trial is recalled as a battle for freedom to protest in an era when many Americans were skeptical of government authority.

Ms. Stewart was another client who proudly called herself a radical. But times have changed. The federal courthouse stands just blocks from ground zero in a scarred city with little sympathy for terror suspects. Although the jurors debated for a total of 12 days, they were ultimately not convinced by Mr. Tigar’s defense that Ms. Stewart was only doing her job as a lawyer as she thought best.

Mr. Tigar said he was confident that he had created an enduring portrait of his client in the legal record. “This is a working-class woman lawyer and community activist who has maintained intense dedication and credibility in the African-American, Puerto Rican and other communities of color in New York,” he said.

Characteristically, he delivered a closing argument in the folksy manner he acquired in 15 years of teaching at the University of Texas law school, but he peppered it with references to Nelson Mandela and the French philosopher Jacques Derrida.

Mr. Tigar said the verdict was only the beginning of the case’s journey through the courts. Another lawyer, Joshua Dratel, the president of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, will argue Ms. Stewart’s appeal. Mr. Tigar predicted that it would center on violations of the free expression rights of Ms. Stewart and her client and of her right to practice law.

“The question is, who should be making the decisions about what lawyers may permissibly do?” Mr. Tigar said, evoking the memory of Clarence Darrow. “In our legal tradition there are no celebrated lawyers for the defense who were toadies. The lawyers we celebrate are remembered for confrontational statements and actions with respect to government conduct.”

He recalled his long legal efforts against Gen. Augusto Pinochet, the once untouchable dictator who is now facing the courts in Chile for human rights crimes. “I’m powerfully aware of how the story you tell changes things,” he said.

Mr. Tigar grew up in California, where his father was an itinerant ranch hand. He has three children and is married to a lawyer, Jane B. Tigar, with whom he shares a law practice.

HE admits he was worn down by the trial, which dragged on more than seven months. “A long trial is a physical ordeal, and I certainly was not prepared for that,” Mr. Tigar said. “The stress is enormous. You’re carrying a life, Lynne Stewart’s life.”

In late October, on a day when Ms. Stewart was on the stand, Mr. Tigar developed chest pains. The trial was suspended for several days while Mr. Tigar received treatment.

As he returns to writing books and teaching law at American University, he has no doubts about his final trial. “I’m as convinced as I was the first day in the justice of Lynne Stewart’s cause, and that’s enough,” he said. “The fact that 12 people disagreed with our view based on the evidence they heard doesn’t change the issues.”

2005.02.18: NY Sun Article on the Stewart Conviction

From: Susan Morris
Sent: Friday, February 18, 2005 10:38 AM
To: ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: NY Sun Article on the Stewart Conviction

http://www.nysun.com/article/9063

Stewart Is Guilty of Aiding Terror in Landmark Case BY GEOFFREY GRAY – Staff Reporter of the Sun February 11, 2005

 

A 65-year-old activist attorney, who has been a courthouse fixture in Lower Manhattan for more than three decades, Lynne Stewart, was convicted by an anonymous jury yesterday of helping an Egyptian sheik maintain terrorist ties while he was in solitary confinement for plotting to destroy city landmarks. Stewart, dressed in a red and black print kimono blouse and wiping tears from her face, vowed to fight the verdict.

“I know what I did,” she said. “I committed no crime.”

Convicted of conspiracy, providing material support to terrorists, defrauding the United States, and making false statements, she faces a maximum sentence of 45 years in prison. As the result of her felony conviction, Stewart will be automatically disbarred.

Two of Stewart’s co-defendants, Mohammed Yousry, an Arabic translator, and Ahmed Abdel Sattar, who prosecutors said was a close operative for the convicted Egyptian sheik, Omar Abdel Rahman, were also found guilty on criminal and terrorism-related charges. Abdel Sattar faces a potential sentence of life imprisonment. The translator, Yousry, convicted on charges similar to those against Stewart, could face 20 years in prison.

The federal district judge presiding over the case, John Koeltl, scheduled sentencing for July 15.

The guilty verdicts came on the 13th day of on-again, off-again deliberations, which were sporadically postponed because of the holidays, sick jurors, and at least one unusual incident. A court appointed driver escorting the jurors rolled down the tinted windows of their van outside the courthouse and, enraging Stewart’s supporters, reportedly blurting out, “Who is Lynne Stewart?” The judge ordered the van driver be replaced.

The identities of jurors were shielded from the public and their names were kept from court officials because Judge Koeltl felt the jurors themselves could become targets of terrorism.

Stewart’s case was closely watched by defense attorneys, many of whom viewed her prosecution as symbolic of the fight to preserve civil liberties, such as the attorney-client privilege, within a government dedicated to monitoring and eradicating terrorist activity.

While Stewart often referred to herself as the “poster girl” for the USA Patriot Act and Attorney General Ashcroft, prosecutors argued that she overstepped her bounds as a court-appointed attorney for Adbel Rahman, now serving a life sentence in a Minnesota prison for conspiring to bomb the World Trade Center in 1993 and other New York landmarks such as the United Nations two years later.

In Washington, Mr. Ashcroft’s successor, Alberto Gonzales, said the verdict was “an important step in the Justice Department’s war on terrorism.”

Mr. Gonzales said the convictions send the message that the Justice Department “will pursue both those who carry out acts of terrorism and those who assist them with their murderous goals.”

During the trial, which began last June, prosecutors said that during three videotaped prison visits with Abdel Rahman in 2000, Stewart and Yousry worked to pass messages and information between Abdel Sattar and Abdel Rahman.

Stewart denied that she had any terrorist involvement and argued that all conversations she had with a client were protected – even if that client happened to be a terrorist.

Yesterday, Stewart again defended her actions. “I’d like to think I would do it again, because it is the way a lawyer is supposed to behave,” she said.

The guilty verdicts shocked her supporters. “I’m leaving the country,” an attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights, Matthew Strugar, said.

“What a mess,” a lawyer with the Legal Aid Society, Michael Letwin, said. “This is a chilling blow to public dissent, public dissent against the government, and the attorney-client privilege.”

Stewart, in tears, made her way through the well-wishers, hugging friends, attorneys, activists, and law students who had come to support her during the trial. She put on her coat and her scarf, entered the courthouse elevator, and prepared to address the throngs of reporters on the curb. They were waiting for her in the cold with television cameras and microphones and notebooks.

“Keep that chin up,” a friend told Stewart in the elevator.

“Chin is up, red scarf is unfurled,” she said.

February 15, 2005

2005.02.15: Thursday Rally for Lynne Stewart

From: Michael Letwin
Sent: Tuesday, February 15, 2005 10:41 AM
To: 1199 Members; ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: THURSDAY Rally for Lynne Stewart

THURSDAY Rally for Lynne Stewart

February 17th JOIN US! At the Community Church of New York (Hall of Worship) 40 East 35th Street New York, NY 10016 (between Park & Madison) #6 Train to 33rd St.

From 7 pm – 9:30 pm Hear from Lynne, members of her legal team, NLG members, others for a Culmination of the Guild’s National Day of Outrage following the verdict in Lynne Stewart’s case.

Michael Smith, Moderator Lynne Stewart Ellen Yaroshevsky Martin Stolar Others to be announced soon!

[see http://www.lynnestewart.org  for updated info]

2005.02.15: NYT Op-Ed on Lynn Stewart

Filed under: Civil Liberties,Criminal Justice,Islamophobia,Racism,Sentencing — nyclaw01 @ 10:44 am
Tags:

From: Michael Letwin
Sent: Thursday, February 17, 2005 10:40 AM
To: 1199 Members; ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: NYT Op-Ed on Lynn Stewart

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/17/opinion/17napolitano.html?

The New York Times
February 17, 2005
OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR
No Defense
By ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO

THE conviction of Lynne F. Stewart for providing material aid to terrorism and for lying to the government is another perverse victory in the Justice Department’s assault on the Constitution.

Ms. Stewart, the lawyer who was convicted last week of five felonies, will be disbarred and faces up to 30 years in jail. She represented Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, not exactly a sympathetic character. He is the leader of the Islamic Group, a terrorist organization that plotted the assassination of President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and masterminded the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.

He was sentenced in 1996 to life in prison. When Ms. Stewart sought to visit her client in jail, prison officials required her to sign an affirmation that she would abide by special rules requiring that she communicate with the sheikh only about legal matters. The rules also forbade her from passing messages to third parties, like the news media. Yet the jury found that Ms. Stewart frequently made gibberish comments in English to distract prison officials who were trying to record the conversation between the sheikh and his interpreter, and that she “smuggled” messages from her jailed client to his followers.

But if the federal government had followed the law, Ms. Stewart would never have been required to agree to these rules to begin with. Just after 9/11, Attorney General John Ashcroft gave himself the power to bypass the lawyer-client privilege, which every court in the United States has upheld, and eavesdrop on conversations between prisoners and their lawyers if he had reason to believe they were being used to “further facilitate acts of violence or terrorism.” The regulation became effective immediately.

In the good old days, only Congress could write federal criminal laws. After 9/11, however, the attorney general was allowed to do so. Where in the Constitution does it allow that?

Mr. Ashcroft’s rules, with their criminal penalties, violate the Sixth Amendment, which grants all persons the right to consult with a lawyer in confidence. Ms. Stewart can’t effectively represent her clients – no lawyer can – if the government listens to and records privileged conversations between lawyers and their clients. The threat of a government prosecution would loom over their meetings.

These rules also violate the First Amendment’s right to free speech. Especially in a controversial case, a defense lawyer is right to advocate for her client in the press, just as the government uses the press to put forward its case. Unless there is a court order that bars both sides from speaking to reporters, it should be up to the lawyer to decide whether to help her client through the news media.

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?

Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is an analyst for Fox News and the author of “Constitutional Chaos: What Happens When the Government Breaks Its Own Laws.”

February 13, 2005

2005:02.13: Thurs., 2/17: NLG Day of Outrage in Response to Stewart Verdict

Filed under: Civil Liberties,Criminal Justice,Islamophobia,Racism,Sentencing — nyclaw01 @ 10:44 am
Tags:

From: Michael Letwin
Sent: Sunday, February 13, 2005 4:02 PM
To: 1199 Members; ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: Thurs., 2/17: NLG Day of Outrage in Response to Stewart Verdict

NATIONAL LAWYERS GUILD CALLS FOR A NATIONAL DAY OF OUTRAGE IN RESPONSE TO LYNNE STEWART VERDICT

Organize for Thursday, February 17!

The National Executive Committee of the NLG calls on all Guild chapters to organize and to take part in local actions as part of a “National Day of Outrage” in response to yesterday’s Lynne Stewart verdict, which we see as an attack not only on our cherished colleague and fellow NLG member but also on all members of the legal community who represent unpopular clients and causes. We are calling for this coordinated day of action to be held next Thursday, February 17 in your cities, towns, and, if you are a law student, at your school. We are putting together a list of suggested actions to take and will send this out ASAP. Please begin making arrangements and stay tuned for more information.

This will be just one step in our ongoing support for Lynne Stewart and in defense of all of those who take on controversial cases.

——————————–

From: Clifford Conner [mailto:cliff.conner@verizon.net]
Sent: Friday, February 11, 2005 5:29 PM
Subject: More on Lynne Stewart

Dear friends,

You may have seen in the news that Lynne is out on bail pending sentencing, which I believe is scheduled for July.
And she and her lawyers (who are excellent) promise that they will appeal it all the way to the Supreme Court.
Hopefully, that will take time, because I think Lynne’s best hope is for the political pendulum in this country to begin swinging back in the other direction, away from those who brought us Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. Meanwhile, what can we do? Well, I think that in general the best way we can help get that pendulum to reverse direction is to keep up the pressure against the Iraq war. I also think exposing the fraudulent attack on social security can contribute to challenging the politics of falsehood that currently has the country in its grip. As for directly supporting Lynne’s case, the first thing to do would be to inform yourself fully, and the best way to do that is to go to:

http://www.lynnestewart.org

Also, the website gives more information on what can be done on Lynne’s behalf. There is a defense committee for her already in existence, and I’m sure it will be stepping up its efforts now.

A couple of key points about her case: First of all, the NY Times’ front-page article this morning seemed to be essentially accurate in content, but misleading in presentation. The subheading right under the main headline
read: “Stewart Carried Messages While Defending Sheik.” That headline conjures up images of her clandestinely transmitting secret messages from the Sheik to his followers, but what did she actually do? She sent out a press release! Not only was she not acting in a covert manner, she was doing the opposite by trying to maximize public knowledge of the case. That act was the basis of the prosecution’s case!

Meanwhile, if you watch TV law dramas like “Law and Order”
and “The Practice,” you’ve no doubt gotten the message that “lawyer-client privilege” is the holiest of holies in the American judicial system. Not anymore! If this verdict stands, it can be violated with impunity. The prosecution’s whole case was built on secretly-made videotapes of Lynne’s meetings in prison with the Sheik. Furthermore, those many hours of videotapes did not provide the government with a single instance of a “secret message” being smuggled in or out. That’s because there were none. As I said, all the prosecution could find to charge her with was the very public act of telling the media something the Sheik had told her. She did that, she said, as part of her duty to offer him the best legal defense she could.

The demise of lawyer-client privilege, if it is upheld in this case, will be a devastating blow to civil liberties in this country. It is part of the Ashcroft (now Gonzalez) drive to “Guantanamo-ize” the legal system in the United States. Whereas the American tradition has been that “it is better that a hundred guilty people go free than one innocent person be falsely convicted,” those in charge now want to reverse that to read “it is better that a hundred innocent people be convicted rather than one guilty one go free.” In Guantanamo, people are assumed guilty and held indefinitely without trial. There is a real danger of that becoming the norm here in any case in which the government makes claims of terrorist involvement. If the Ashcrofts and Gonzalezes can so easily sweep aside lawyer-client privilege, all civil liberties protections are in grave danger. We can hope that Lynne’s appeal will free her and at the same time uphold the inviolability of lawyer-client privilege.

Another key aspect of the trial was the amount of prejudicial material that the prosecution was allowed to present to the jury. In “Law and Order,” judges are forever ruling out evidence at the drop of a hat on the grounds that its “prejudicial value outweighs its probative value”
(or something like that). First of all, Lynn should have been tried separately from the other defendants, because the prosecution should not have been allowed to falsely connect Lynn to some of their more extreme statements. One of them, for example, was shown to have declared something to the effect that “All Jews should be killed.” Lynn had absolutely no connection with this odious sentiment. She has spent her life fighting against bigotry of all kinds, including antisemitism. But the jury was allowed to believe that this had something to do with her. Much, much worse was the judge’s allowing the prosecution to play a videotape of none other than Osama Bin Laden to the jury! Again, Osama Bin Laden had nothing whatever to do with the charges against Lynn, and only the most remote connection with one of the other defendants. (It seems that one of the people the fellow had met with had once met with Osama Bin Laden.) But talk about prejudicial value!

I should add that even if the fellow who said “All Jews should be killed” had been one of Lynn’s clients (he wasn’t), there would have been nothing wrong with her acting as his defense attorney. To the contrary, the credibility of the American judicial system depends on lawyers like Lynn who have the courage to represent unpopular–even despicable–clients, whether she agrees with what they stand for or not. If Lynn’s conviction stands, it will create a chilling effect that will make it hard for such people to find competent lawyers, and the credibility of the legal system will suffer accordingly.

FREE LYNNE STEWART!

Cliff Conner

February 10, 2005

2005.02.10: LYNNE STEWART VERDICT

From: Susan Morris
Sent: Thursday, February 10, 2005 2:20 PM
To: ALAA MEMBERS
Cc: 111 CDD; 1199 Members
Subject: LYNNE STEWART VERDICT

The jury has reached a verdict, and they are gathering Marshalls, etc.

NLG encourages everyone to go to the

Federal Courthouse in Manhattan

40 Foley Square

Rumor has it that they are in the old Rosenberg trial courtroom

February 3, 2005

2005.02.03: Feb. 8, event in Sunnyside

Filed under: Antiwar,International Human Rights — nyclaw01 @ 12:05 pm

From: Patrick J. Langhenry
Sent: Thursday, February 03, 2005 12:33 PM
To: 1199 Members; ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: Feb. 8, event in Sunnyside

For those living in Queens, this is a reminder that former military, including a marine recently returned from Iraq,  and a mother of a marine will speak about their opposition to the invasion of Iraq and its residual aftermath.

The event will be held at All Saints Church, located on 46th Street, between Queens Blvd and 43rd Avenue.  The talks will start at 8:00 p.m.

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