Attorney Lynne Stewart gets 10 years

Southern District of New York Judge John G. Koeltl decided July 15 to increase disbarred attorney Lynne Stewart‘s sentence from 28 months to 10 years. Stewart was found guilty in 2005 of distributing press releases on behalf of her imprisoned client Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, also known as the “Blind Sheikh,” in violation of “special administrative measures.”

Stewart, 70, started serving the original 28-month sentence in November. Prosecutors filed an appeal of the sentence, arguing that Stewart should get 15 to 30 years. Lawyers for Stewart said the initial term ordered by the judge was “reasonable and just.” But a panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit overturned the sentence, sending the case back to Judge Koeltl.

Koeltl, citing Stewart’s lack of remorse, found that “the original sentence was not adequate.” Supporters for Stewart, who underwent treatment for breast cancer before she was first sentenced, are calling for her term to be served at home. (NY1, Democracy Now, Bloomberg,, WBAI News, July 15; NYT, June 25)

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    1. That’s how the system works
      Of course they can. That’s what “appeal” means. We got this “situation” through the Constitution. Only acquittals can’t be appealed, because that violates the double jeopardy clause. Sentences can be.

      It’s to Lynne’s credit that she refused to make the contrite noises that could have won her a shorter sentence, putting principle and dignity first. But everything went by the books.

      1. Justification in Lynne Stewart sentencing
        From, June 16:

        Southern District Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew S. Dember and Michael D. Maimin, in a 155-page memorandum, say Stewart perjured herself several times, most notably when she said a “bubble” protected her as an attorney when she smuggled out of prison in June 2000 a statement by the sheik withdrawing his support for a cease-fire on violent attacks by Islamic Group.

        “The evidence at trial irrefutably proved that Stewart knew that she was committing perjury by offering such testimony,” the prosecutors argue in their memo.

        They say Stewart’s sentence should be increased dramatically both because of her perjury and because of a terrorism enhancement in the federal sentencing guidelines that Koeltl technically applied, but did not enforce. The terrorism enhancement drives the guidelines figure up to the statutory maximum of 30 years in prison.

        What I’m not clear on is how the supposed perjury could be factored in if she was never actually convicted of perjury—or why it should make any difference if there was a “terrorism enhancement” in the case anyway. Perhaps Dember and Maimin would care to weigh in. Guys…?