A Collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh

Long sentence urged for rights lawyer convicted of helping terror client

[JURIST] Federal prosecutors have asked that a judge sentence civil rights lawyer Lynne Stewart [defense website] to 30 years in prison, saying that Stewart's "egregious, flagrant abuse of her profession ... deserves to be severely punished." Stewart was convicted [JURIST report; JURIST video] of conspiracy and providing material support to terrorists [18 USC 2339A text] for helping imprisoned Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman [Wikipedia profile] communicate with his terrorist followers. Stewart was also convicted of defrauding the government for violating rules that had been put in place to prevent Abdel-Rahman from communicating with the outside world following his 1995 conviction of seditious conspiracy for plotting to blow up several New York city landmarks. A federal judge upheld Stewart's conviction [JURIST report] late last year, dismissing her arguments that Abdel-Rahman was engaging in protected speech when he expressed opinions about an Egyptian ceasefire which Stewart passed along in a press release.

In court documents filed last week, prosecutors wrote that Stewart's conduct reflected "a pattern of purposeful and willful conduct, in which she played a central role in repeated fraudulent attempts to pass messages to and from Abdel-Rahman." Stewart's lawyers have said that the judge should consider Stewart's long record of working on behalf of indigent clients and that a harsh sentence should be avoided as it will discourage other lawyers from defending notorious clients. A sentencing hearing in the case is scheduled for October 16. AP has more.

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.