Last night, well-known New York civil rights lawyer, Lynne Stewart spoke before a crowd of more than 150 at PSU speaking out against her indictment by "General Ashcroft" on charges of materially aiding a terrorist organization. Her case may be deciscive in whether lawyers want to and are able to defend their clients within our current legal system. Few have spoken as well about the executive branch's munching away at our civil liberties and the impending consequences.
"In these times the Constitution is in great need of defense'", Lynne said at the opening. With the megalamanical pursuits of our current government, methinks, so is she. In her case, Lynne Stewart vs. John Ashcroft, she will be defended by veteran West Coast civil rights lawyer, Michael Tigar. The case is to be heard in a federal court in New York City next year.
Lynne is charged with materially aiding a terrorist organization under the 1996 Antiterrorism Act by reading a press release on behalf of her client, Sheik Abdel Rahman, who is serving a life sentence in connection with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing of the World Trade Center (CASSEL). The approximately 10 line press release which was given to Reuters was not published in US. The press release stated only that the Sheik was unhappy with what he saw happening in Muhbarik's Egypt and that he thought the ceasefire agreement should be looked at again. This was in no material way a call to arms according to Stewart. She is also charged with distracting guards in a federal prison during a client visit, for which she thinks she may have been able to unwilling guilty in the beauty of her youth, but are merely frivolous charges in the current case.
Lynne said, "(If I am convicted) we could be on a very slippery slope. It is possible that other lawyers may not take cases involving arab clients or if they do take them, may not defend them vigorously." This is true. Our justice system hinges on the ability of the people accused of a crime to be defended to the utmost extent without fear of retribution from the government.
To learn more about Lynne Stewarts case or to contribute go to www.lynnestewart.org.
to every good citizen the king sends praise
<<keep your nose down
your mouth shut>>
as they parade the villians of fashion among us
along the streets of our capital
or into the dungeons of the peoples' houses'
<<you are safe>>
till your family is not in fashion
* Cassel, Elaine: Bringing Down the Curtain on Defense Attorneys: The Lynne Stewart Case