NY Governor candidate Howie Hawkins Opposes Increased Jail Time for Lawyer Lynne Stewart
For Immediate Release: July 15, 2010
For More Info: Howie Hawkins, 315 425-1019
Mark Dunlea, 518 860-3725
Hawkins Opposes Increased Jail Time for Lawyer Lynne Stewart, calls it an Attempt to Intimidate Lawyers Representing Unpopular Clients
Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for Governor, harshly condemned the increased jail time ordered for civil rights attorney Lynne Stewart, calling it an affront to the American legal system.
"This is not about Lynne Stewart. This is about any lawyer defending an unpopular client. It undermines our system of legal representation, which is based on an adversarial system where the defendant has the right to confront their accusers. Her increased sentence is an effort to intimidate lawyers who defend controversial clients. Ms. Stewart has an exemplary record as a legal advocate for the poor and the oppressed and should be released from prison. I call upon President Obama to immediately provide her clemency and to put an end to this travesty of justice," said Hawkins, who was arrested last November at a single payer universal health care protest at the Syracuse offices of WellPoint, the largest health insurance conglomerate in the US.
Lynne Stewart was resentenced today as per order of the higher court from original sentence of 28 months to 10 years and a month. This could keep her behind bars until she turns 80.
After her conviction in 2006, Hawkins, who was running for US Senate, stated that “Lynne Stewart is just the latest in a long line of victims in the war by the Bush administration and a bipartisan Congress to repeal the Bill of Rights and erode civil liberties. Bush has callously used the 9/11 attacks as a pretext to curtail the right to a fair trial, to illegally spy on Americans, and to sanction torture. Lynne Stewart has an exemplary life-long record of tireless and fearless legal advocacy for the oppressed. She has been a model for what being an attorney means. The problem here is not Ms. Stewart but a presidential administration which is intent on beating down anyone who dares challenges their effort to suppress the Constitution and rule of law,” added Hawkins.
Hawkins said that at a minimum Ms. Stewart, who is suffering from cancer, should be allowed to serve her sentence under home confinement.
Stewart was a member of the court-appointed defense team for Sheik Abdel Rahman. Rahman is serving a life sentence in connection with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Stewart continued to act as one of Rahman's attorneys after his incarceration. As the Stewart indictment and conviction shows, an attorney can be now charged with aiding and abetting terrorism simply for engaging in everyday acts of lawyering. For example, responding to press queries, unless the subject of court gag orders imposed during trials, is a normal part of being a lawyer in a controversial case. Yet for Stewart, it is a crime.