Join us in supporting Lynne Stewart while she faces this terrible outcome of her appeal. Today, Tuesday, November 17th 4 p.m. Foley Square, NYC - in front of Court house where trial took place - 80 Centre Street (near Worth St.) take 4,5 or 6 to Brooklyn Bridge. Spread the word. November 17, 2009, 2:14 pm
Lynne Stewart Is Ordered to Begin Serving Sentence
By BENJAMIN WEISER
Paul O. Boisvert
for The New York
A federal appeals court panel in Manhattan on Tuesday upheld the conviction of Lynne F. Stewart, the outspoken defense lawyer who was found guilty in 2005 of assisting terrorism by smuggling information from an imprisoned client to his violent followers in Egypt.
The three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit also revoked Ms. Stewart’s bond, and said that she must begin serving her 28-month sentence.
But the panel also sent the case back to the trial judge, John G. Koeltl of Federal District Court, to determine whether she deserved a longer sentence in light of the seriousness of her conduct and the possibility she had lied at trial. Prosecutors had sought a term of 30 years.
It was not immediately clear when Ms. Stewart, who is 70 and who was being treated for breast cancer at the time of her sentencing in 2006, would surrender. She could not be reached for comment by phone; her lawyer, Joshua L. Dratel, declined to comment, as did a spokeswoman for the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan.
Judge Robert D. Sack, who wrote the appellate ruling, said the panel had rejected Ms. Stewart’s claim that she was acting only as a “zealous advocate” for her imprisoned client, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, when he passed messages for him, and was not seeking to incite violence among his militant followers. Mr. Abdel Rahman was serving a life sentence for his conviction in a plot to blow up New York landmarks.
“A genuinely held intent to represent a client ‘zealously’ is not necessarily inconsistent with criminal intent,” Judge Sack wrote. The ruling upholding the conviction of Ms. Stewart and two co-defendants was joined by Judges John M. Walker Jr. and Guido Calabresi.
Judge Sack also noted that when Judge Koeltl imposed the 28-month sentence, he cited what he called her extraordinary personal characteristics in supporting leniency. Judge Koeltl had described Ms. Stewart as “a dedicated public servant who had, throughout her career, ‘represented the poor, the disadvantaged and the unpopular,’ ” Judge Sack wrote.
But Judge Koeltl had declined to decide, as prosecutors had argued, whether Ms. Stewart had lied at trial, a factor he should have considered in weighing her sentence, Judge Sack wrote.
“We think that whether Stewart lied under oath at her trial is directly relevant to whether her sentence was appropriate,” Judge Sack wrote. He said that the case should be sent back to Judge Koeltl for a determination as to whether she lied, and if so, the judge should “resentence Stewart so as to reflect that finding.”
Judge Walker dissented on the sentence, which he called “breathtakingly low.” He said that he would go further than the majority in finding additional errors by Judge Koeltl. The majority, he wrote, “trivializes Stewart’s extremely serious conduct with a ‘slap on the wrist.’ ”
U.S. lawyer convicted in terrorism case imprisoned
Tue Nov 17, 2009 12:52pm EST
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A disbarred New York lawyer convicted in 2005 on charges of supporting terrorism by helping an imprisoned blind Egyptian cleric smuggle messages to militant followers was ordered to prison by a U.S. federal appeals court that upheld her conviction on Tuesday.
The appeals court also ordered the trial judge to consider lengthening the 28-month prison sentence given to civil rights lawyer Lynne Stewart, 70, saying the judge had declined to consider whether Stewart committed perjury.
Stewart was sentenced in October 2006 to 28 months in prison for helping her client, Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, contact the Islamic Group, which the U.S. government lists as a terrorist organization.
Abdel-Rahman was convicted in 1995 of conspiring to attack U.S. targets in a plot that U.S. prosecutors said included the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. The twin towers of the World Trade Center were later toppled in the 2001 attacks on the United States carried out by the group al Qaeda.
Prosecutors said messages Stewart passed on for Abdel-Rahman could have incited violence in Egypt.
Evidence in the case against Stewart included a call the lawyer made to a Reuters correspondent in Egypt in which she read a statement issued by the cleric saying he had withdrawn his support for the Islamic Group's ceasefire in Egypt.
In its nearly 200-page ruling, the U.S. second circuit appeals court ordered Stewart to begin serving her sentence.
Stewart had been released on bail pending the appeal. She could have been sentenced to more than 15 years in prison after being convicted on charges of supporting terrorism. Prosecutors had sought up to 30 years.
Stewart was tried along with Mohamed Yousry, an Arabic language translator working for her, and New York postal worker Ahmed Sattar.
Sattar was sentenced to 24 years in prison and Yousry to 20 months. The appeals court also said the trial judge could reconsider the sentences of those two men as well.
(Reporting by Christine Kearney, editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Will Dunham)
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