Lynne Stewart Coming Home
ACTIVISM, 6 Jan 2014
It’s reason to celebrate. On December 31, Lynne wrote from Carswell federal prison as follows:
Well, the impossible takes a little longer!
We learned this morning that the US Attorney’s office has made the motion for my compassionate release and that the Order was on Judge Koeltl’s desk.
Since on the last go-round, he stated in Court that he would treat it ‘favorably.’ We are now just waiting expectantly.
The wonderful thing is that Ralph is here in Ft Worth for a visit and will bring me back to NYC with him.
We don’t know when but the rules state that the warden has 2 days to let me go after he receives the order so it could be as early as Friday or a few days more.
Whatever it is, I can’t stop crying tears of Joy!!
I can’t stop thinking of all the marvelous people worldwide who made this happen. You know because each of you played an integral role.
My daughter Z is already lining up Sloan Kettering, and we will have to see if there is a probation qualification attached to the Order and how it will affect me.
After that, Ralph will start making arrangements to rent Yankee Stadium for the Welcome Homeâ€¦Smile.
So If this reaches you before midnight tonight, raise a glass of bubbly to the joy of all of us that the old girl is OUT!!
On December 31, the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York filed a motion before federal Judge John Koeltl.
He requested Lynne be re-sentenced to time served. Doing so means she’s eligible for immediate release. Judge Koeltl complied, saying:
Lynne’s “terminal medical condition and very limited life expectancy constitute extraordinary and compelling reasons that warrant the requested (sentencing) reduction.”
“It is further ordered that the defendant shall be released from the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons as soon as her medical condition permits, the release plan is implemented, and travel arrangements can be made.”
She’ll be home within a few days at most. Her husband Ralph is in Fort Worth, TX near Carswell federal prison.
They’ll return to New York together. They’ll do it joyously. They’ll do it despite Lynne’s wrongful imprisonment. They’ll do it despite her grave medical condition.
She’s dying. She has Stage Four cancer. Previous articles explained. Others addressed Judge Koeltl.
He originally sentenced Lynne to 28 months in prison. It shouldn’t have been 28 seconds. Lynne never should have been prosecuted in the first place. In passing sentence Judge Koeltl said:
“She has represented the poor, the disadvantaged and the unpopular, (and she had) enormous skill and dedication (earning little money for doing it).”
“It is no exaggeration to say that Ms. Stewart performed a public service not only to her clients but to the nation.”
He cited hundreds of supportive letters. Former Attorney General Ramsey Clark sent one. So did law professors, former prosecutors, retired judges, and former clients.
On April 9, 2002, Lynne was wrongfully and maliciously indicted. At issue was decades of representing clients prosecutors wanted convicted. Bogus charges included:
- “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.”
On February 10, 2005, she was convicted on all counts. Jurors were intimidated to do so. Trial proceedings mocked fairness. Kangaroo court justice followed.
On October 17, 2006, Lynne was sentenced to 28 months imprisonment.
On November 17, 2009, a US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit three-judge panel upheld Lynne’s conviction.
They wrongfully accused her of “knowingly and willfully making false statements.” They redirected her case to Judge Koeltl. They pressured him to re-sentence.
They lied demanding enhancements for terrorism, perjury, and abuse of Lynne’s position as a lawyer.
On November 19, 2009, Lynne was jailed in New York awaiting re-sentencing.
On July 15, 2010, Judge Koeltl imposed 10 years. A packed courtroom of Lynne’s supporters heard him.
A collective gasp, a few shrieks and sobs followed his re-sentencing. Husband Ralph called it “a death sentence.”
Lynne addressed the court as follows:
- “I’m somewhat stunned, Judge, by the swift change in my outlook. We will continue to struggle on to take all available options to do what we need to do to change this.”
- “I feel like I let a lot of my good people down. Over the last eight months, prison has diminished me. Daily I confront the prospect of death.”
Judge Koeltl ignored the American Bar Association’s Model Code of Judicial Conduct. Its preamble calls for:
- “An independent, fair and impartial judiciary.” It called it “indispensable to our system of justice;”
- “Judges…at all times (ensuring) the greatest possible public confidence in their independence, impartiality, integrity, and competence;”
- “establish(ing) standards (of) ethical conduct (including) overarching principles of judicial ethics” (and fairness), consistent with constitutional requirements, statutes, other court rules, and decisional law, and with due regard for all relevant circumstances.”
Lynne’s lynching showed America’s true face. Police state justice rules. It has final say. Fundamental rights don’t matter. Guilt by accusation suffices.
Koeltl wasn’t finished punishing Lynne. She petitioned for compassionate release. She qualifies in all respects. America’s 1984 Sentencing Act grants them “for extraordinary and compelling reasons.”
None rise to the level of life threatening illness. Ramsey Clark said Lynne “meets every legal, rational and humane criterion.”
Her attorneys argued accordingly. On August 9, 2013, Judge Koeltl denied her. He did so disgracefully.
In sentencing Lynne in 2006, he said he didn’t want to impose a death sentence. He didn’t want Lynne to die in prison.
He called her character “extraordinary.” She’s “a credit to her profession,” he said.
Longterm imprisonment would be unjust, he added. It would be “unreasonable.” He cited “the somewhat atypical nature of her case.” He noted no “evidence that (anyone) was harmed.”
It didn’t matter. In July 2010, he re-sentenced Lynne to 10 years. On August 9, 2013, he denied her compassionate release request.
At the time, her attorney Jill Shellow said his ruling “is hardly the end of this fight.”
Lynne re-petitioned for compassionate release. She wants the right to die at home. She calls prison “a strange and loveless place.”
“I want to be where all is familiar – in a word, home,” she said. Months passed without resolution.
She never lost hope. On New Year’s eve it came. Jill Shellow informed Lynne. She’ll return to New York.
She’ll get expert medical care prison authorities denied her. It may be too late to save her. Her cancer metastasized.
It spread to her lungs, lymph nodes, bones, shoulder and left arm pit. Other parts of her body are vulnerable.
She may have only months to live. Whether expert medical care makes a difference remains to be seen.
On New Year’s day 2014, Lynne’s impending release awaits. She’ll be home within days. She’ll be reunited with loved ones.
Supporters will greet her. Yankee Stadium isn’t big enough to hold them. After over four years of wrongful imprisonment, Lynne will be free at last.
Borrowing from Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech perhaps says it best,” saying:
“Free at last. Free at last. Thank God almighty (Lynne’s) free at last.”
Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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