[Marxism] Breast Cancer Delays Sentencing of Lawyer [Lynne Stewart] Convicted in Terrorism Case

Bonnie Weinstein giobon at sbcglobal.net
Sat Mar 4 14:39:48 MST 2006


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BREAKING NEWS: www.bauaw.org
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Breast Cancer Delays Sentencing
of Lawyer [Lynne Stewart] Convicted in Terrorism Case
By JULIA PRESTON
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/04/nyregion/04stewart.html

To learn more about Lynne Stewart's case go to:
http://www.lynnestewart.org/

More than a year has passed since Lynne F. Stewart, a defense lawyer
who proudly calls herself a radical, was convicted of aiding terrorists
in a high-profile federal trial in New York. But she still has not been
sentenced.

Debate has percolated about the Feb. 10, 2005, verdict against
Ms. Stewart, with civil libertarians saying it violated her rights
to represent a terrorist client and justice officials promoting
it as a blow against terrorism. But the court became strangely
quiet about the case, with Judge John G. Koeltl repeatedly
postponing the sentencing without explanation.

Yesterday, Ms. Stewart, who remains free on bail, clarified
the mystery when her lawyers filed a letter revealing that
she is recovering from surgery on Jan. 9 for breast cancer
and is about to start a program of radiation therapy.
She requested a new delay of her sentencing until after July 31.

Ms. Stewart said that she had alerted Judge Koeltl about
her cancer soon after her doctors saw signs of it in November,
but the judge agreed to keep any discussion of her illness
confidential until now.

"Talk about getting hit over the head with a sledgehammer,
oh me," said Ms. Stewart, recalling the day in early December
when her doctor, reading the results of a biopsy, confirmed
the tumor.

Ms. Stewart, 66, faces a maximum of 30 years in prison,
in effect a life sentence, after her conviction on five counts
of providing material aid to terrorism and lying to the
government. She was found guilty of conspiring with an
imprisoned terrorist client, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman,
to defy special federal rules that barred him from
communicating with his militant Islamic followers in Egypt.

In May 2000 Ms. Stewart carried a message from the sheik
out of federal prison and later read it by telephone to
a Reuters reporter in Cairo. The sheik was convicted in
1995 and is serving a life sentence for conspiring in 1993
to bomb the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels and other
New York City landmarks.

Ms. Stewart said she had no illusion about much chance
of avoiding prison. Judge Koeltl, of Federal District Court
in Manhattan, denied her motions for a new trial in
a sternly worded Oct. 25 ruling.

In a telephone interview from a country home upstate where
she is recuperating, Ms. Stewart said, "The ultimate reality
is this sentencing is going to happen." She said she hoped
the judge would agree that she should recover from the
cancer before going to prison. Her message, she said,
is, "You may send me to jail for the rest of my life, but
at least I'll go in strong and resistant to whatever happens."

After a Feb. 24 sentencing date was postponed, she
was scheduled to be sentenced on March 10.

A letter from Ms. Stewart's oncologist, Dr. Michael L.
Grossbard, filed with the court yesterday, reported that
surgeons had removed a 2.4-centimeter "invasive ductal
carcinoma" from her left breast. Dr. Grossbard, the chief
of hematology and oncology at St. Luke's-Roosevelt
Hospital Center in Manhattan, said that Ms. Stewart would
require radiation treatments every weekday for about
six weeks, starting at the end of this month.

"Fatigue can be a severe side effect for some patients
and can limit their participation in usual daily activities,"
Dr. Grossbard wrote.

Ms. Stewart, who appeared sturdy and resolute throughout
the trial, said that dealing with illness in the wake of her
conviction had been difficult. "I have been totally consumed
by this," she said. "I'm fragile enough that I can't just sit
down and talk about this sentencing in the abstract."

Prosecutors in the case had no comment yesterday, noting
that most of the court record about Ms. Stewart's health
was still under seal.

For months after the trial Ms. Stewart, a cause célèbre in
leftist and civil liberties circles, traveled around the country,
speaking to groups of supporters. She stopped when the
cancer was diagnosed, she said. She also learned last year
that she had high blood pressure.

Ms. Stewart and her lawyers denied that she was seeking
any special dispensation from the court. "We're not asking
for anything out of the ordinary, beyond what is reasonable
for the therapy she is undergoing," said Jill R. Shellow-Lavine,
one of Ms. Stewart's lawyers. They are seeking a filing date
of July 31 for their sentencing motions, which could lead
to a sentencing date as late as September.

Two other defendants in the case are also awaiting sentencing.
They are Mohamed Yousry, 49, Ms. Stewart's Arabic translator,
and Ahmed Abdel Sattar, 46, a postal worker from Staten Island
who was a paralegal in the sheik's case. Mr. Yousry remains
free on bail, but Mr. Sattar, who was convicted of conspiring
to kidnap and kill in a foreign country, the most serious charge
in the trial, is now in maximum security solitary confinement
in the federal jail in Manhattan.

A lawyer for Mr. Sattar, Kenneth A. Paul, said his client had
been abruptly transferred recently to the most severe isolation
unit in the Metropolitan Correctional Center and placed under
the same type of restrictions, known as special administrative
measures, that were imposed on Mr. Abdel Rahman. Mr. Sattar
is confined to his cell 24 hours a day. The one-hour daily
recreation time that he had had since he was first incarcerated
four years ago has been canceled.

"He's in a complete shutdown right now," Mr. Paul said, "with
no phone calls and no visitation, and we don't know why."

Prosecutors declined to comment on Mr. Sattar's situation.

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