An appeal of Lynne Stewart’s lengthened sentence is set for 8 a.m., Feb. 29, at the federal courthouse at New York’s Foley Square. There will be an all-night rally for Lynne in the square, starting at 7 p.m. Information: (917) 853-9759.
After the disaster in July 2010, when Judge Koeltl, following the directives of the Second Circuit increased my sentence from 28 months to 10 years, our righteous indignation fueled this appeal. The government’s argument will center on my testimony at trial and the alleged perjury. All of those facts were before the court at the time of the 28-month sentence and were not the basis then of a double-digit sentence.
Our brief attacks the increased sentence on two different fronts—one on a doctrine of “substantive unreasonableness,” meaning it’s just too much of an increase, five fold—given the circumstances. Secondly, we argued that the only “new” information before the judge were my statements after my first sentence in October of 2008 and remarks I made on the courthouse steps before I surrendered to prison. We contend strongly that this is protected speech under the First Amendment of the Constitution, and cannot be used to increase or as a basis for sentencing. (Even if they hate it !!!)
The same group of three judges that heard and decided the original appeal will also hear the arguments on the 29th. The government is not asking for more time; they are satisfied with their pound of flesh but it is not likely that this court will take any action that will help me. The times are askew for prisoners and their lawsuits. (The brief is available at my website, www.lynnestewart.org.)
The lawyers that argued in July of 2010 will be on board, with the addition of Herald Price Fahringer, an eminent attorney in the First Amendment field (the win in the Larry Flynt Hustler case in the U.S. Supreme Court was his. He was also in the line of fire (no injuries) when the shooting took place.) He will enthusiastically present our case. I will not be present—not unusual once imprisoned. But my spirit will be there to inspire!!!
Of course, my case has always been government firing warning shots to lawyers, that a vigorous defense, of certain clients, if not conforming to government specifications, will be punished severely. This chill effect in these days that we are confronted with grand jury investigations and dismantling of Occupations is not something we should contemplate with anything less than alarm. I have just finished David Gilbert’s book (“Love Struggle”) and the intercession of lawyers when there are arrests of designated enemies of the “state” are the only meaningful protection available.
A large outpouring of support in Foley Square and Tom Paine Park and in the courtroom will signal to these arbiters of “justice” that attention must be paid, the 99% are watching them with suspicion and tallying up the roads not taken.