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Second Circuit affirms civil rights lawyer Lynne Stewart conviction

[JURIST] A US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit [official website] panel affirmed [opinion, PDF] the conviction of civil rights lawyer Lynne Stewart [advocacy website; JURIST news archive] on Tuesday, and ordered her to begin her prison sentence. Stewart, along with Mohammed Yousry and Ahmed Abdel Satter, were convicted [Reuters report] of various crimes based on association with convicted terrorist Omar Abdel-Rahman. As part of his conviction, Rahmen is subject to Special Administrative Measures (SAMs), which limit his ability to communicate with individuals outside the prison. The court found that despite being a lawyer, Stewart was bound by the SAMs but knowingly and willfully lied about her intentions to comply. The court also found that Stewart provided and concealed material support to the conspiracy to murder persons in a foreign country and noted,

We conclude that the district court committed neither procedural error in calculating the applicable Guidelines ranges, nor substantive error in varying from those ranges pursuant to its consideration of the factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a). We nonetheless remand their cases to the district court to allow it to reconsider their sentences should it choose to do so in light of the resentencing of Stewart...[We] direct the court to revoke Stewart's and Yousry's bail pending appeal and to order them to surrender to the United States Marshal to begin serving their sentences forthwith.

In remanding the case, the Second Circuit panel suggested that the district court look at the length of the Stewart's sentence, having found that the current 28-month sentence "is out of line with the extreme seriousness of her criminal conduct."

Stewart was originally convicted by a jury in 2005, and the judgment was upheld [JURIST reports] by a federal judge later that year. In 2006, Stewart was sentenced [JURIST report] to 28 months in prison. Federal prosecutors had asked [JURIST report] for the maximum sentence of 30 years, saying that Stewart's "egregious, flagrant abuse of her profession...deserves to be severely punished." In 2007, Stewart was disbarred [JURIST report] in the state of New York after her voluntary resignation was rejected.

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