Lynne Stewart

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Sat Jul 27 06:09:43 MDT 2002

LA Times, July 27, 2002

Circling the Legal Wagons
When attorney Lynne Stewart was charged with aiding terrorists, New York
lawyers of all stripes came to her aid.
By Geraldine Baum, Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- When FBI agents swarmed onto Lynne F. Stewart's front stoop
in Brooklyn on April 9 with an arrest warrant, she thought they'd come
for her partner of 34 years, Ralph Poynter, a longtime political
activist. An agent informed her otherwise: "We're not here for him,
we're here for you."

Stewart, a 62-year-old lawyer, was handcuffed in front of her neighbors
and charged with helping one of her jailed clients--a blind Egyptian
cleric convicted of plotting to blow up Manhattan landmarks--pass
messages to his militant followers.

As agents took the plump, grandmotherly Stewart away, she shouted to
Poynter: "Whatever this is, call the media."

The arrest put Stewart at the center of a controversy that has
jeopardized her career but also brought her to the attention of the
tight-knit defense bar. Despite annoyance with her anachronistic lefty
ways, many of these lawyers are rallying around her on principle.

They are horrified that this lawyer, any lawyer, is being lumped in a
conspiracy with the likes of militant Muslims who live to kill Jews and
take down governments; they are convinced that the government is growing
increasingly hostile toward them and the people they represent.

And little-known attorney Stewart, a former librarian who wears billowy
tent dresses and unstyled gray hair, has come to personify all these
concerns and more. She has the nation's top prosecutor to thank for her
newfound fame.

Announcing her indictment, Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft said the three-year
investigation that led to Stewart's arrest inspired the Justice
Department to assert new powers to monitor lawyers and their clients
when the attorney general suspects doing so could deter terrorism.

"We simply aren't going to allow people who are convicted of terrorism
to continue ... directing the activity from their prison," Ashcroft said
later that day during an appearance on CBS-TV's "Late Show With David
Letterman," before he performed "Can't Buy Me Love" on the piano for
Letterman's cheering audience.



Louis Proyect

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