Saturday, July 17, 2010

Lynne Stewart's 10-Year Sentence: The NYU & Columbia Law School Connection

Federal District Court judge John Koeltl recently re-sentenced Civil Rights Attorney Lynne Stewart to 10 years imprisonment--for the act of photocopying and mailing a press release for one of her clients. Coincidentally, Judge Koeltl was also paid $20,000 by NYU Law School in 2008 for apparently also working as an NYU Law School adjunct professor, according to Judge Koeltl’s financial filing. The same 2008 financial filing also indicates that Judge Koeltl owned stock in corporations such as Royal Dutch Shell, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson.

Judge Koeltl was ordered to revisit his original 28-month sentence of Lynne Stewart “when it was overturned by a two-judge majority of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit” and “Judges Robert D. Sack and Guido Calabresi ruled that Koeltl’s” original “sentence was flawed,” according to a recent statement by Jeff Mackler, the West Coast Director of the Lynne Stewart Defense Committee. Coincidentally, the November 2009 legal decision that ordered Judge Koeltl to revisit his original 28-month sentence of Lynne Stewart was written by a Columbia University Law School faculty member named Robert D. Sack.

Judge Sack, the son of Park Slope rabbi Eugene Sack, was the Columbia University Law School Commencement speaker in 2007. In his May 17, 2007 Columbia University Law School commencement speech, Sack confessed the following:

"My father was a reform rabbi with a pulpit in Park Slope Brooklyn...

"...It would be foolish to think that which judge happens to sit on your panel never matters. Sometimes it does...

"I took a job with Patterson, Belknap & Webb here in New York. A partner of the firm, later my mentor, Bob Potter, greeted me at the door. He said, `The most fun around her is representing The Wall Street Journal.' And I said--`Yes. I'll do that.' That's how I got into media law."

Besides sitting on the U.S. federal judiciary bench (having, like Judge Koeltl, been appointed by Secretary of State Clinton’s husband in the 1990s), Columbia Law School Professor Sack has also sat next to two top Dow Jones Company executives--Stuart Karle and James Ottaway Jr.--while serving as a board member of the William F. Kerby and Robert S. Potter Fund.

Coincidentally, Lynne Stewart was the lawyer for the still-imprisoned 1968 Columbia Strike Leader David Gilbert during the 1980s; and the Obama Administration Justice Department which decided to push for Stewart's imprisonment in the Columbia Law School faculty member's federal courtroom is headed by a former Columbia University Trustee named Eric Holder. In addition, at least two current U.S. Supreme Court justices are also former members of the Columbia Law School faculty.

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 Columbia Law Professor Sack wrote the unjust November 2009 legal decision that ordered Judge Koeltl to revisit his original 28-month sentencing 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..."

If you check out the May 1, 2009 financial disclosure form that Columbia Law School faculty member Robert D. Sack filed for 2008, you’ll notice that Sack was paid $7,500 by Columbia Law School in 2008. In addition, Judge Sack apparently also received $72,000 in 2008 from the Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP Retirement Plan—at the same time he was employed as both a federal court judge and a lecturer at Columbia Law School.

Coincidentally, the lawyer who served as the principal legal advisor to the National Security Council in the Bush White House, Michael Edney, now works in the Washington, D.C. office of the Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP firm whose “retirement plan” apparently paid Judge Sack $72,000 in 2008. As a press release, titled “Former White House Legal Advisor Returns to Gibson Dunn in D.C.,” that was posted on the Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP website on May 13, 2009 revealed:

“Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP welcomes back Michael J. Edney to its Washington, D.C. office after four years of high-level Executive Branch experience in the White House… Edney rejoins the approximately 125-lawyer litigation practice group in the Washington, D.C. office, including more than a dozen former Department of Justice attorneys….From 2007 to 2009, Edney served as a principal legal advisor to the National Security Council in the White House. In that position, he participated in crafting and implementing the Administration’s response to national security legal matters in the courts...

“Edney resumes his litigation practice at Gibson Dunn after a four-year absence…In 2007, he joined the National Security Council staff in the White House…His responsibilities included advising senior White House policymakers…”

A former Assistant United States Attorney named Alexander Southwell also began working in 2007 at the New York office of the Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP firm whose “retirement plan” apparently paid Judge Sack $72,000 in 2008. As a July 24, 2007 press release on the Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP website noted:

“…Mr. Southwell joins a number of former Assistant U.S. Attorneys at Gibson Dunn…Mr. Southwell served from 2001 through 2007 as an Assistant U.S. Attorney with the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of New York.”

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