Incarceration Nation

Lynne Stewart Case: The Judge Rules

The response of Judge John Koeltl to Bureau of Prison’s denial of Lynne Stewart’s release—
A firm stand on the fence

By Ralph Schoenman

August 8, 2013—The emergency motion by Lynne Stewart’s defense team sought an order by the judge for the release of Lynne Stewart based upon the medical record and in compliance with basic constitutional guarantees of separation of powers and habeas corpus.

Ralph Poynter, husband of Lynne Stewart, and Lynne’s co-counsel and former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, reported on today’s hearing before Judge John Koeltl, who went back and forth between defense and prosecution.

Judge Koeltl asked prosecutor Andrew Dember’s opinion about the many medical staff and administrative officials at Carswell Federal Prison who had supported Compassionate Release, to which prosecutor Dember responded, “I have no opinion.”

Judge Koetl then stated that he had no motion before him from the Federal Bureau of Prisons as required and added that if Lynne Stewart had filed another application for Compassionate Release, a decision by the Federal Bureau of Prisons to file a new motion with the court could occur.

Defense Attorney Jill Shellow stated that the federal prosecutor had not disputed the facts regarding Lynne Stewart’s medical condition and terminal illness. She placed on record that the emergency motion before Judge Koeltl established that weeks and months of delay in processing the facts, more delays between medical “treatments,” followed by further weeks and months of delay, culminated in a denial that ignored the medical facts and deployed the passage of time to place Lynne Stewart at death’s door.

The Judge commented that if Lynne Stewart were to document medical “neglect,” she had the basis for a civil lawsuit.

Jill Shallow observed that there was precious little time for civil lawsuits that did not free Lynne Stewart and entailed yet more delay. Further avoidance in re-assessing the ever more stark medical evidence of Lynne Stewart’s terminal prognosis condemned her to death in prison.

She repeated a Yiddish word meaning: “Enough! Enough! Enough!”

The judge gave no indication regarding his intent, stating solely that he would “reserve his decision.” He added vacuously that he always takes “time” into consideration in every matter, whether measured in years, months, weeks or days.

The international movement to free Lynne Stewart continues

We need ever more people to sign the international petition and write individual letters. Send messages to U.S. embassies, to Federal Bureau of Prisons Director Charles E. Samuels, Jr. and to Attorney General Eric Holder.

Pass Resolutions, hold rallies, issue declarations, send messages to U.S. embassies and international organizations concerned with human rights; write again and again to Federal Bureau of Prisons Director Charles E. Samuels, Jr. and to Attorney General Eric Holder.

Contact information is available at

Distribute widely the international petition to save the life of Lynne Stewart.

In the signature words of Lynne Stewart:

“Love and Struggle!”