Lynne Stewart’s Struggle for Justice Continues
Numerous previous articles discussed her case, character, and dedication to rule of law principles. She’s an internationally recognized human rights lawyer.
She tirelessly worked for justice. She devoted her life and work to upholding principles too important to reject. She knew the risks and took them. She did so because it matters.
For 30 years, she defended America’s poor, underprivileged, unwanted, and forgotten. Without advocates like her, they never have a chance for due process and judicial fairness.
She was targeted for representing clients prosecutors want convicted. One case made her especially vulnerable.
At former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark’s request, she joined his Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman’s defense team.
In 1995, he was wrongfully convicted of seditious conspiracy, solicitation of murder, solicitation of an attack on American military installations, conspiracy to commit murder, and conspiracy to bomb in connection with the 1993 World Trade Center attack.
He was bogusly accused. He was innocent of all charges. It didn’t matter. He never had a chance. Prosecutorial injustice framed him. It’s standard Justice Department practice.
Defending Rahman got Lynne spuriously charged with:
“Conspiring to defraud the United States; conspiring to provide and conceal material support to terrorist activity; providing and concealing material support to terrorist activity; and two counts of making false statements.”
Prosecutors claimed she violated U.S. Bureau of Prisons Special Administrative Measures (SAMs). A gag order on Rahman was included.
Doing so prohibits discussing topics the Justice Department (DOJ) rules outside “legal representation.” It also inhibits legal defenses.
Ramsey Clark issued press releases like Lynne. She alone was targeted. At issue was silencing a powerful legal advocate. Tactics included disbarring and imprisoning her unjustly.
Doing so warned other lawyers not to defend clients Washington wants convicted.
Her trial mocked justice. It was orchestrated to convict. It reflected the worst of McCarthy-like tactics. Inflammatory terrorist images were displayed in court.
Jurors were manipulated and intimidated. Lynne was called a traitor with radical political views. Heated rhetoric substituted for truth and full disclosure.
On February 10, 2005, she was convicted on all counts. She was automatically disbarred.
On October 17, 2006, she was sentenced to 28 months in prison. At the time, she remained free on bond pending appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
In November 2009, she was ordered to surrender forthwith and report to prison.
She appealed and lost. Second Circuit justices upheld her conviction. They claimed 28 months was too lenient. They remanded her case back to district court Judge John Koeltl.
Pressure got him to increase Lynne’s sentence to ten years. She hopes Supreme Court justices will afford her what lower courts denied.
On December 30, she sent a New Year’s message. She addressed her legion of supporters. She approached 2013 with “fear and trepidation.”
She maintains “indefatigable hope.” She continues struggling against “those dread tentacles of corporatism (that) try to strangle us.”
It’s no easy task fighting back. Lynne’s imprisoned for trying. She discussed her “personal challenges.”
She’s a breast cancer survivor. It reemerged. It’s spreading. It’s treatable. More on that below.
She remains focused. She’s determined not to allow “any such problem to deter (her) from someday getting released” and being free.
She reflected on her “strong will.” She calls it the “focus that you all infuse me with!!”
She commented on her formidable challenge in getting her case before the Supreme Court. “Will they deign to hear us?” she asked. “Will we advance the sunlight or only increase the shadows on our constitutional rights?
“We can only strive to present our issues in the best possible way and ‘fight like hell’ for justice. There’s ‘no predicting results,’ but in prison, HOPE is the only currency.”
On October 8, Lynne added another year. She’s 73. She’s “counting down (her) 74th year,” she said. Her husband and lifelong human rights partner Ralph is 79.
Often her final comment is vintage Lynne. She urges everyone to join the struggle for justice. “Organize—Agitate, Agitate, Agitate!”
Write her and others in America’s gulag. She can be reached as follows:
Lynne Stewart #53504-054
Federal Medical Center, Carswell
PO Box 27137
Ft. Worth, TX 76127
Lynne’s health compounds her problems. On January 23, Press TV headlined “Jailed U.S. lawyer of blind Egyptian cleric denied cancer treatment,” saying:
It reemerged. It “spread to her lungs and upper back.”
“She ‘require(s) immediate expert treatment.’” She requested transfer to a New York hospital. She’s been successfully treated there before. She was denied.
She’s confined to prison-style treatment. It’s mediocre at best. Authorities want her silenced. They don’t care if she lives or dies.
Incarceration harms human health. Prison conditions aren’t compatible with healthy living. Serious illnesses aren’t adequately diagnosed or treated. Some are entirely ignored.
Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) discussed “The Health and Health Care of U.S. Prisoners.”
Few inmates with “active medical problems” are monitored. Mental health problems are “ubiquitous.” Treatment is deplorable.
“Almost a million inmates report having one or more chronic medical (problems), and their access to medical care appears to be poor.
“Providing inmates with healthcare is politically unpopular. Former Surgeon General Richard Carmona said Bush administration officials blocked release of his report titled, “Call to Action on Corrections in Community Health.”
They did so fearing it “would increase government spending on inmates.” PNHP stressed that “constitutional, public health, and human rights imperatives of improving healthcare in prisons and jails are clear.”
In January 2009, PNHP headlined “U.S. prisoners sicker than believed and have poor access to care.”
An American Journal of Public Health article discussed a first-ever nationwide study. It said about 40 percent of America’s prison population (over 800,000 inmates) have chronic medical conditions.
They include diabetes, heart and kidney problems, asthma, and cancer. Researchers found “sick prisoners have poor access to care.” Many in need aren’t treated. Others get deplorable care.
Compared with comparably aged Americans, the incidence of inmates’ illness is much higher. Treatment is sub-standard.
“Inmates with medical problems like diabetes, which requires drug treatment (daily), often had their vital medications stopped after their incarceration.”
Lead study author, Dr. Andrew Wilper said:
“A substantial percentage of inmates have serious medical needs. Yet many of them don’t get even minimal medical care. These prisoners are denied their constitutionally guaranteed right to care.”
Lynne is affected like others. Her struggle for good health accompanies her appeal to be set free. Her treatment reflects police state justice.
It symbolizes what’s wrong with America. It spurns rule of law principles. It imprisons its best and brightest. It’s contemptuous of fundamental civil and human rights. Wealth, power, privilege and dominance alone matter.
Ordinary people are largely denied. Prison inmates lose all rights. Constitutionally guaranteed ones don’t matter. Ill inmates needing vital care get sub-standard treatment or none.
Change more than ever is needed. Great struggles are won in small steps. Supporting right over wrong matters. Mass public outrage is needed. Activism gets results. There’s no other way.
—Steve Lendman Blog, January 24, 2013