Lynne F. Stewart, an outspoken New York lawyer known for aggressively defending unpopular clients, was found guilty today of aiding terrorism by smuggling messages out of jail from a convicted Islamic terrorist she represented.You know, it kind of begs a question, doesn't it? Are we talking about civil rights? Or severing rights?
Ms. Stewart faces up to 20 years in prison for her conviction on five federal charges that included conspiracy, giving material support to terrorists and lying to the government involving her work with the client, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman. Two co-defendants, Ahmed Abdel Sattar and Mohamed Yousry, were also convicted of all the charges against them in federal court in Manhattan.
Ms. Stewart, 65, who remains free on bail but who may not leave the state until her sentencing on July 15, said that she would appeal. "I will fight on. I'm not giving up," she told reporters. "I know I committed no crime. I know what I did was right."Aiding and abetting her clients in their ongoing commitment of the very crime for which they have just been found guilty. Hmmmmm. Now, call me silly, call me old-fashioned, but doesn't that rather make one an accomplice after the fact? Just a thought.
Outside the courtroom after the verdicts were announced today, Ms. Stewart was surrounded by a coterie of supporters who shouted, "Hands off Lynne Stewart."Oh, I don't doubt that for a moment. This writer firmly believes we're breeding these maniacs by the job lot.
"I see myself as a symbol of what people rail against when they say that civil liberties are eroded," she said, her voice breaking with emotion. "We don't live in the same America we lived in even three or four years ago.What the hell? Sorry - I'm beginning to think this woman should have been pleading insanity. After hearing this, I'd be well and truly supporting a one-way ticket to the funny farm, and a life-time's supply of jabs to the good-ol' gluteus maximus.
"We will all wake up one morning to hear someone say guilty and be placed in jail," she said.No – just people found guilty of committing crimes. People like you, Lynne.
"I hope this verdict will be a wake-up call to all the citizens of this great country that you can't lock up the lawyers. You can't tell the lawyers how to do their jobs."Ahh - reality check in aisle five. It certainly is a wake-up call, Lynne - yours. It seems lawyers can be locked up when they break the law, just like the rest of us. That goes doubly when your clients are notionally enemies of your country - more specifically, enemies of the very law you have sworn an oath to uphold. And I think we can tell lawyers how to do their jobs – it's called – well - the Law. Remember that, Lynne? The L. A. W? No? Oh well. Maybe that's the problem.
The real question is whether or not people of this mind set think themselves above all that, of course, from ignoring their duty to the Courts they've sworn an oath to serve, or coaching their clients, right on through to actually aiding and abetting them in their crimes. Lynne, it seems, had a pretty ready answer for that, though. And she's about to pay pretty heavily for it, as she should.
But I'll leave the last word to Anthony Barkow, the assistant United States attorney:
"She thought she could blow off the rules that apply to everyone else because she's a lawyer, and she's above the law," Mr. Barkow said. "She said, 'I think my client is more important than the law. My cause is more important than the risk to lives of innocent people.' "Get all that? And I think this simple statement lumps Lynne into a very, very special brand of lawyer indeed.
Bye, bye, Lynne.