Sunday, November 22, 2009

National Lawyers Guild Called Lynne Stewart's Trial & Conviction `A Travesty'

The judicial branch of the U.S. federal government is supposed to be independent of both the U.S. Senate and Columbia University Law School. Yet after a Columbia Law School faculty member named Robert D. Sack recently wrote an unjust legal decision that upheld a 2005 trial conviction of Lynne Stewart, the former Chief Counsel to U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York--a 1993 Columbia University Law School graduate named Preet Bharara--wrote a motion--on behalf of a U.S. Justice Department that is headed by former Columbia University Trustee Eric Holder--requesting that the bail of the 70-year-old woman human rights lawyer be revoked. And that Stewart be imprisoned immediately.

But in the introduction to its 2005 pamphlet, titled The Case of Lynne Stewart: A Justice Department Attack on the Bill of Rights, the National Lawyers Guild noted:

"When Lynne released for public dissemination to the media a statement from her client--an act that the Justice Department was fully aware of about which it took no action for years--it was assumed her actions fell within current norms of protected legal advocacy. Following a change in administrations as well as the stigma of 9/11, Attorney General John Ashcroft convened an unseemly press conference and appeared later that day on the David Letterman Show to announce the bootstrapping of that minor violation of regulations into a full blown `terrorism' charge against her.

"Lynne Stewart, known in New York for defending poor and politically controversial clients for decades, was made part of a seven-count indictment, accusing her of `conspiracy' with two others, her translator and a legal assistant. The evidence presented at trial included the secret recordings of her meetings with her client...The evidence showed, at most, that in her effort to counterbalance the devastating effects of her client's lengthy isolation, she had released the press statement years earlier as part of the defense campaign to keep him in the public eye...

"Her trial and conviction were a travesty...

"This case brings us all to a cross-roads. Either we protest her conviction and demand respect for the Sixth Amendment and the rights of clients and attorneys to execute defense strategy without governmental interference and the constant threat of prosecution, or we consent to a radical rewriting of the right to counsel, thereby endorsing the administration's view of a new America ruled by administrative fiat, unhindered by Constitutional restraint..."

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