Lynne Stewart wins ‘compassionate release’

On Dec. 31, US Judge John G. Koeltl granted the Bureau of Prisons' request for the compassionate release of Lynne Stewart. Now 74 years old and struggling with terminal cancer, Stewart is said to have a life expectancy of less than 18 months. She has been serving a 10-year sentence at the Federal Medical Center Carswell in Fort Worth, Tex., in connection with her defense of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman. As her condition has deteriorated, the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) has repeatedly called on Attorney General Eric Holder to direct the BoP to grant compassionate release. Said NLG executive director Heidi Boghosian: "From arrest to sentencing, Lynne Stewart's case was used by the Department of Justice to send a chilling message to attorneys: think twice about who you represent! For speaking to a Reuters reporter about her client’s viewpoints—in violation of an administrative order—an ailing Ms. Stewart was sentenced to a decade in prison. Today's small measure of justice does little to repair the damage wrought by the government’s unjust prosecution of an advocate whose service to society has been widely documented." (NLG, Dec. 31)

Stewart was released on Jan. 1, and arrived in New York that afternoon. She is currently with her son and his family in Brooklyn, according to her lawyer, Jill Shellow. "I know that she is very happy to be home," said Shellow. "I believe her immediate plan is to seek medical attention at Sloan Kettering Cancer Center." (CNN, Jan. 1)