New York Green Hawkins Opposes Increased Jail Time for Lawyer Lynne Stewart

GP.org:

Howie Hawkins – Green for Governor

Media Release
http://www.howiehawkins.orghttp://www.gpny.org

For Immediate Release: July 15, 2010

For More Info:
Howie Hawkins, 315 425-1019
Mark Dunlea, 518 860-3725

Calls it an Attempt to Intimidate Lawyers Representing Unpopular Clients

Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for Governor, harshly condemned the increased jail time ordered for civil rights attorney Lynne Stewart, calling it an affront to the American legal system.

“This is not about Lynne Stewart. This is about any lawyer defending an unpopular client. It undermines our system of legal representation, which is based on an adversarial system where the defendant has the right to confront their accusers. Her increased sentence is an effort to intimidate lawyers who defend controversial clients. Ms. Stewart has an exemplary record as a legal advocate for the poor and the oppressed and should be released from prison. I call upon President Obama to immediately provide her clemency and to put an end to this travesty of justice,” said Hawkins, who was arrested last November at a single payer universal health care protest at the Syracuse offices of WellPoint, the largest health insurance conglomerate in the US.

Lynne Stewart was resentenced today as per order of the higher court from original sentence of 28 months to 10 years and a month. This could keep her behind bars until she turns 80.

After her conviction in 2006, Hawkins, who was running for US Senate, stated that “Lynne Stewart is just the latest in a long line of victims in the war by the Bush administration and a bipartisan Congress to repeal the Bill of Rights and erode civil liberties. Bush has callously used the 9/11 attacks as a pretext to curtail the right to a fair trial, to illegally spy on Americans, and to sanction torture. Lynne Stewart has an exemplary life-long record of tireless and fearless legal advocacy for the oppressed. She has been a model for what being an attorney means. The problem here is not Ms. Stewart but a presidential administration which is intent on beating down anyone who dares challenges their effort to suppress the Constitution and rule of law,” added Hawkins.

Hawkins said that at a minimum Ms. Stewart, who is suffering from cancer, should be allowed to serve her sentence under home confinement.

Stewart was a member of the court-appointed defense team for Sheik Abdel Rahman. Rahman is serving a life sentence in connection with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Stewart continued to act as one of Rahman’s attorneys after his incarceration. As the Stewart indictment and conviction shows, an attorney can be now charged with aiding and abetting terrorism simply for engaging in everyday acts of lawyering. For example, responding to press queries, unless the subject of court gag orders imposed during trials, is a normal part of being a lawyer in a controversial case. Yet for Stewart, it is a crime.

4 thoughts on “New York Green Hawkins Opposes Increased Jail Time for Lawyer Lynne Stewart

  1. Gene Berkman

    Lynne Stewart is not in prison for defending her clients in court. She is in prison because she communicated a message on behalf of an alledged terrorist being held in custody. The message she communicated encouraged violence and disruption, so she is an accessory to acts of violence.

    If Mr Hawkins wishes to defend such a person, the Green Party’s commitment to non-violence becomes a question.

  2. imamn

    he was not an ‘alleged’ terrorist, he was a ‘convicted’ terrorist, what’s so green ’bout that

  3. D. Torres

    Lynne Stewart made a mistake, she should never
    have served as a go between and Mr.Rahman.
    Her remarks, to the pre4ss and supporters,
    during her original sentencing to 28 months,
    were foolish.
    Thumbing her nose at the Judge that her cut
    her a break was just plain dumb.

    Counselor Lynne Stewart is 70 years of
    age and is suffering from breast cancer.

    Due to those facts, a 10 year prison sentence
    could very well be tantamount to a prison
    sentence for Counselor Lynne Stewart.

    Counselor Stewart, not withstanding the
    grave error, that she did commit with
    respect to the Rahman case, has served
    her community well.

    She has been a voice for the voiceless,
    fought for the rights of those that could not
    fight for themselves.

    Counselor Stewart was the female
    William Kunstler.

    I just feel very sorry to see her in prison,
    suffering, with such a harsh sentence imposed
    on her.

    She did make a mistake, but perhaps there
    is some forgiveness for her.

    She has done a lot of good as well.

  4. Starchild

    This story is indeed troubling. It reminds me of the Chinese regime’s persecution of human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng.

    While Lynn Stewart’s treatment is not on the level of what Gao has had to endure (see e.g. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/01/world/asia/01gao.html), the tactic of going after a lawyer who dares to legally assist persons or causes unpopular with the authorities is chillingly familiar.

    The fact that the government blatantly admits to having violated the privacy of Stewart’s relationship with her client — “The government admitted that it had engaged in 85,000 acts of wiretapping of Stewart’s emails, faxes and phone calls,” and “eavesdropped, through hidden cameras and microphones, on Stewart’s meetings with her client” (see http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2005/02/10/28762.php) is by itself sufficient reason for her to be immediately released from custody and her conviction thrown out.

    Kudos to New York gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins for standing up for freedom on this issue. I hope he will continue to make police state issues, such as the need to release the millions of innocent people incarcerated in the U.S. under the failed, immoral and unconstitutional “War on Drugs”, a major focus of his campaign.

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