The Sentencing of Lynne Stewart

The Sentencing of Lynne Stewart
by Michael Steven Smith, in MR Zine
21 July 2010

“At all times throughout history the ideology of the ruling class is the ruling ideology.” — Karl Marx

Lynne Stewart is a friend. She used to practice law in New York City. I still do. I was in the courtroom with my wife Debby the afternoon of July 19th for her re-sentencing. Judge John Koeltl buried her alive.

We should have seen it coming when he told her to take all the time she needed at the start when she spoke before the sentence was read. It didn’t matter what she said. He had already written his decision, which he read out loud to a courtroom packed with supporters. It was well crafted. Bulletproof on appeal. He is smart and cautious.

After about an hour into his pronouncement, he came to the buried alive part. He prefaced it by citing the unprecedented 400 letters of support people had sent him, all of which he said he read. He noted Lynne’s three decades of service to the poor and the outcast. He stressed that she is a seventy-year-old breast cancer survivor with high blood pressure and other serious health problems. And then he laid it on her: 120 months.

Everyone in the courthouse divided 120 by 12. He had given her a death sentence, we all thought. She’ll never get out. He almost quadrupled the 28 month sentence he had originally pronounced. She had told him that 28 months was a horizon, that she had hope. But no more.

Lynne’s granddaughter gasped. Then started sobbing. She kept crying even as Judge John Koeltl kept reading. And reading. And reading. It was awful. The sentence was pitiless and cruel. How to understand it?

Lynne’s lawyer Jill Shellow Levine rose after the judge finished. She asked him why. He was candid. He was told to do it by his supervisors, the judges on the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. This court is an institution of the elite. It is considered the second highest court in America next to the Supreme Court because it presides over the financial center of the empire, not its capital, that is in D.C., but its real capital. This court makes policy and Lynne Stewart was to be made an example of in “the war against terrorism” just as a half a century before, in the same court, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were condemned to death in the war against communism, told that they had caused the deaths of 50,000 U.S. soldiers in the Korean War, and found guilty of the ridiculous charge of “stealing the secret” of the atomic bomb, when there was no secret, it was only a matter of technology. The sentencing Judge Kaufman knew they would leave behind two orphan children, Robert and Michael, ages six and three.

In 1947 George Kennan, the ideological father of the cold war, wrote that the United States had but six per cent of the world’s population and fifty per cent of its wealth. The problem was to keep it. Anti-communism served as the ideological cover the U.S. ruling classes used. But communism ceased to exist after capitalism was restored in the Soviet Union in 1991. A new ideological cover has been constructed in the wake of the September 11th criminal attack on the World Tread Center and the Pentagon: the War against Terror. Nationalist opposition to U.S. economic and foreign policy in parts of the Arab world is no longer led by communists but by fundamentalist Muslims.

Lynne Stewart represented one of them, Sheik Abdel Rahman, who was the leading oppositionist to the U.S.-sponsored Mubarak dictatorship in Egypt, which gets more money from America than any other country in the world except Israel. In 1993, at the behest of the Egyptian government, Sheik Rahman was criminally indicted and later convicted of the crime of “sedition” for suggesting to a government informer that rather than blow up New York City landmarks he choose “a military target.” It was on the occasion of a post-conviction prison visit that Lynne helped her client. She released his statement to Reuters press service announcing his withdrawal of support for a ceasefire between his group and the Egyptian government. This was in violation of a Special Administrative Measure (SAMs) that Lynne had agreed to with the U.S. Government. She wasn’t supposed to be a medium for communication between her client and the outside world. She should have challenged the constitutionality of the SAMs, she now realizes, and not just have violated them.

She wasn’t prosecuted for what she did, not under the Clinton administration, nor during the first years of George W. Bush. Then came 9.11. Bush’s Attorney General John Ashcroft flew into New York City in 2003 and announced Lynne’s indictment on the David Letterman show. The crime? A novel one. Conspiracy to provide material aid to a terrorist organization. What was the material aid? Her client. When Ashcroft did that, as the nation’s highest law enforcement officer, he committed an ethical violation for which any other attorney would have been sanctioned. He made sure that from the very beginning of her ordeal Lynne Stewart never had a chance. Not with the level of fear the government was able to generate and the scare they put into her jury.

In 2006 she was convicted and sentenced. The maximum was 30 years, but thanks to the superb legal work of National Lawyers Guild attorneys Elizabeth Fink and Sarah Kunstler and the outpouring of public support Judge Koeltl gave her 28 months. The government appealed the sentence to their U.S. Court of Appeals. Game over. The selective prosecution of Lynne Stewart was accomplished.

Judge John Walker, George W. Bush’s first cousin, sits on that court. His family made their fortune selling munitions during WWI. He wrote that the 28 months was “shockingly low.” Judge Koeltl was given his orders. The seemingly kindly boyish-looking jurist about whom it was said that he walks to work and looks after an elderly mother — not exactly a sadistic old lady killer — then reversed himself and on the same evidence nearly quadruped the sentence, putting a seventy-year-old grandmother on chemotherapy away for ten years and two years’ probation after that for good measure. This is much more than meanness. It is ideology.

Michael Steven Smith is the co-host of the WBAI radio show Law and Disorder and sits on the Board of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Scott Watch: They’d better stop messing with Mrs. Rasco’s kids…

Celebrate the Commemoration of the Abolition
of the Transatlantic Slave Trade:


ABOLISH THE PRISON INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX!!
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This is pretty extraordinary, what’s going on at MDOC. Kind of makes me feel grateful for Arizona.

Keeping both Jamie and her family ignorant of her condition seems to be medical malpractice, with malicious intent (the intent of compromising a patient’s welfare to protect the welfare of an institution’s image – that being the image Wexford and the MDOC want to project…). I just don’t buy their assessments: why else do all these outside doctors disagree with them?

The Kidney Foundation could make such a difference in the quality of care Jamie’s getting and the access her family has to her and her medical staff, with just a little diplomacy.

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Subject: Jamie Scott Rushed Back To Prison So Mother Could Not Visit Hospital

3/25 SCOTT SISTERS UPDATE!

NOTE: If reading this before 10:00 a.m. EST or 9am CST on 3/25, please tune into http://www.facebook.com/l/c3cc4;www.wjzd.com for a Scott Sisters update from Mrs. Rasco on the Rip Daniels “It’s a New Day” (http://www.facebook.com/l/ c3cc4;www.itisanewday.com) show. Rip Daniels is a very dedicated supporter who starts each show off at 10 a.m. daily counting down how long Jamie and Gladys have been wrongfully locked down and tormented in that prison and will even discuss the case during some mornings on his program, so please check in as regularly as you can.

Mrs. Rasco and her entire family are in Mississippi to visit Jamie and Gladys as well as to participate in the 3/26 MWM/BWDL Press Conference scheduled for 12 noon in front of the Jackson, MS Capitol Bldg. at 400 High St. The organization is asking for letters
of support for their campaign by 12 midnight 3/25 to be sent tonationalmwm@aol.com or officialmwm@yahoo.com For more info call: 267-636-3802.

Jamie has been in the hospital since 3/15 with a very serious infection, severe weakness, extreme pain and swelling. Jamie stated that she was “kicked out” of the hospital on Tuesday to prevent Mrs. Rasco from coming in and asking questions, in fact an extra guard was placed there to make certain that Mrs. Rasco didn’t come in there to see her. Jamie told Mrs. Rasco that she couldn’t believe how her 4′ tall momma caused so much worry among those prison officials!

She was abruptly moved to her old cell in the prison to await the visit with her mother and family to take place Wednesday for an hour, after which her family was to visit with Gladys for an hour. However, the Assistant Warden met them at the entrance and stated that some of the children weren’t on the list to come in. After much wrangling and his personally searching the young men he permitted everyone to visit both women together BUT for one hour total, which actually ended up being less than an hour due to all of the wasted time spent being searched and with the Asst Warden on the phone rechecking names in the waiting area. The family watched in tears as Jamie climbed off of a bus and limped slowly and weakly to the visiting area and questioned staff as to why she wasn’t given a wheelchair,to which they had no answer.

Jamie and Gladys grabbed onto each other and their family members for a very emotional reunion, especially for the children. Both women had lost quite a bit of weight, Gladys from extreme stress and depression and Jamie due to her serious illness. Jamie stated that she was told by the doctor that 6 catheter infections was much too much and that she never should have had so many temporary catheters, which blew out all of her veins where they were placed. She currently has a shunt in her groin which is extremely painful and must be surgically removed next week. She is scheduled to stay in her old cell until Friday, at which time she is told that she will be returned to the hospital.

Both Jamie and Gladys want all of their supporters to know that our activities are very greatly appreciated and that they want us to keep on! Mrs. Rasco and family are also very thankful and hopeful that together we can get those women released from this horrific
situation soon! If we keep pushing and use our creativity to call attention to this case, it will happen! If you write, then write about it; if you sing, sing about it; poet about it; creatively perform about it; print out flyers and distribute them at programs and events, however you can do it, please help get the word out about the plight of these women, there’s something that every one can do!

The Days of Blogging for the Scott Sisters that happened on 3/18 and is so wonderfully happening again today will really help get the word out on the case in wider and broader areas of the internet and hopefully lead to much more support and national attention! Thanks so much to all of the participants and we will be posting links to all of the blogs that participated at the Scott Sisters site, so please send them in so that you can be acknowledged! Of course everyone is encouraged to continue blogging beyond today and please do!
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We still don’t trust that Jamie will receive adequate medical care once these hospitalizations are completed, which was proven by the fact that as soon as she was returned from the hospital yesterday she was put right back in that moldy building where she was originally housed!

JAMIE SCOTT NEEDS TO BE HOUSED IN THE MEDICAL BUILDING.

Someone as seriously ill as Jamie needs to be somewhere that she can get assistance in better living conditions, and that’s not in the infirmary and definitely not in her original cell. The Medical Bldg. would give her access to her sister, Gladys, who would help her with her activities of daily living and monitor her condition, just as other family members incarcerated together there are permitted to do with less life-threatening
illnesses than Jamie suffers.

We must keep pushing for media attention to what’s going on and are continually pressing for nationwide press. A complete and in-depth examination of this travesty of justice must be exposed!! Please forward all of the info at the site to anyone, anywhere that can help to make that happen, the Scott Sisters need to go prime-time to apply enough pressure to make this Gov. do the right thing.

Jane Velez-Mitchell should do an entire segment on the Scott Sisters now that she is aware of the case, please contact her and urge her to follow-up her brief mention of the Scott Sisters on her 3/6 “Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell” with a more significant segment that will focus on Jamie’s serious medical condition and the Scott Sisters case period. The contact form is at http://www.facebook.com/l/c3cc4;www.cnn.com/feedback/tips/newstips.html

EDITED FROM SCOTT SISTERS LIST SERVE

Celebrate the International Observation of the Anniversary of