Court upholds Lynne Stewart's 10-year term

W.A.T.E.R. 17 Special to the AmNews | 7/12/2012, 3:13 p.m.

On June 28, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in lower Manhattan upheld human rights attorney and activist Lynne Stewart's decade-long extended sentence.

"Our intent is to pursue all of the legal remedies available to Lynne to redress her unreasonable sentence," announced Jill Shellow, Stewart's attorney.

Incarcerated since Nov. 19, 2009, Stewart's initial 28-month bid was revoked when the abolitionist attorney boasted after sentencing: "I can do that standing on my head!" Judge John Koeltl reportedly stated that her remarks displayed a lack of remorse and resentenced her to 10 years on July 15, 2010.

Stewart argues that her First Amendment rights have been violated.

"From the moment she committed the first act for which she was convicted, through her trial, sentencing and appeals," Judge Robert D. Sack wrote, "Stewart has persisted in exhibiting what seems to be a stark inability to understand the seriousness of her crimes."

He added that she also failed to understand "the breadth and depth of the danger in which her crimes had placed the lives and safety of unknown innocents and the extent to which they constituted an abuse of her trust and privilege as a member of the bar."

Additionally, the judge noted another statement Stewart made when asked if she could turn back the hands of time: "I might handle it a little differently, but I would do it again."

For over three decades, the lawyer known to some as the "people's attorney" has defended numerous oppressed and impoverished victims of alleged police terrorism and other social ills with little, and at times no, financial compensation.

She has also represented "freedom fighters" such as Black Liberation Army comrades Sekou Odinga and Nasser Ahmed, United Freedom Front member Richard Williams, the Weather Underground's David Gilbert and countless others.

In 2005, Stewart was convicted on five counts of conspiracy to aid, abet and provide material support to terrorism as she represented "The Blind Sheikh," Omar Abdel-Rahman, during his 1995 trial that alleged that he was involved in the Feb. 26, 1993, World Trade Center bombing as well as plots to blow up New York City bridges, tunnels and landmarks.

Shellow said, "Lynne was not and is not a terrorist. She was a fine and dedicated lawyer. She is almost 73, and under the best of circumstances will not be released from prison until 2018. That's a lifetime--her lifetime."

Her refusal to bow down has helped her cope with some health concerns, including recovering from recent surgery and enduring a bout with breast cancer.

Shellow said Stewart and her legal team were considering their options, including whether to ask for review by the full appeals court.

"There's no doubt that her past history in fighting the government, capitalism, racism, sexism and imperialism has been her enemy; she has done well in her chosen field and this weighs heavily on their attitude toward her," concurred Stewart's husband, Ralph Poynter.

He concluded, "Larry Davis is the numero uno reason [she's in prison]--that she dared to tell the truth and this is the truth that is still avoided today. Larry exercised his right to self-defense and won against all odds, and Lynne championed the cause!"

Supporters are asked to write Stewart at 53504-054, FMC Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Ft. Worth, Texas.

Contributions can be made payable to the Lynne Stewart Organization, 1070 Dean St., Brooklyn, NY 11216 or at