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NLG Condemns Verdict In Lynne Stewart Trial
National Lawyers Guild Condemns Verdict In Lynne Stewart Trial Urges Defense Attorneys to Continue Representing Unpopular Clients
New York. In response to today’s guilty verdict in the Lynne Stewart trial, the National Lawyers Guild condemns the message that the government is sending to defense lawyers who choose to represent unpopular clients. After deliberating for 13 days, a jury convicted veteran civil rights attorney Stewart, a member of the Guild, on charges of conspiracy, providing material support to terrorists and defrauding the U.S. government. Sentencing is scheduled for July 15. The 65-year-old attorney faces up to 20 years in prison. The jury also convicted Ahmed Abdel Sattar and Arabic interpreter Mohammed Yousry.
Speaking about the prosecution of Ms. Stewart, National Lawyers Guild President Michael Avery said, "The U.S. Department of Justice was resolute from day one in making a symbol out of Lynne Stewart in support of its campaign to deny people charged with crimes of effective legal representation. The government is bent on intimidating attorneys from providing zealous representation to unpopular clients. The National Lawyers Guild strongly urges its own members and other defense lawyers to continue to proudly represent clients who are openly critical of government policies. We will not be intimidated and this prosecution has only strengthened our resolve to oppose the repressive attacks this government has made on the civil liberties of everyone in this country. We will also continue to stand by Lynne Stewart.”
Since Lynne Stewart's April 2002 indictment, the National Lawyers Guild has assisted Lynne Stewart in launching a broad-based, national education campaign about the impact that her indictment would have on the Sixth Amendment right to an attorney. The government is hoping that lawyers will now think twice before representing clients with unpopular views or related to unpopular causes. Members of the Guild, through its nationwide network of chapters, have also faulted the prosecution of Ms. Stewart based upon violations of the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments. The National Lawyers Guild condemned the government’s November 2003 federal superceding indictment as a continued attempt to undermine the attorney-client privilege by essentially reinstating the same charges that Judge John Koeltl dismissed as unconstitutionally vague four months earlier.
The National Lawyers Guild, founded in 1937, comprises over 6,000 members and activists in the service of the people. Its national office is headquartered in New York and it has chapters in nearly every state, as well as over 100 law school chapters. The Guild has a long history of representing individuals whom the government has deemed a threat to national security, including helping expose illegal FBI and CIA surveillance, infiltration and disruption tactics (COINTELPRO) that the U.S. Senate "Church Commission" hearings detailed in 1975-76 and that led to enactment of the Freedom of Information Act and other limitations on federal investigative power.