« Maine's high court finds part of sex offender registration law unconstitutional | Main | Two notable end-of-year appeals to SCOTUS »

December 24, 2009

Second Circuit amends Stewart sentencing ruling to suggest need for longer sentence

As detailed in this New York Law Journal article, which is headlined "Amended Ruling Could Mean Tougher Term for Disbarred Terror Case Lawyer," the Second Circuit has tweaked its recent ruling in the Lynne Stewart case to suggest even more strongly that a longer prison term may be required.  Here is the NYLJ report:

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals released an amended opinion on the resentencing of Lynne Stewart on Wednesday, adding language that appears to require Judge John Koeltl to consider a much longer sentence for the disbarred lawyer.  The circuit had ruled on Nov. 17 that the 28-month sentence Koeltl gave Stewart for helping imprisoned Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman pass messages to his followers in an alleged terror group in Egypt was too low.

A majority told Judge Koeltl to make a finding on whether Stewart committed perjury at trial and examine in greater detail her abuse of her position as a lawyer -- two factors that would both increase the sentence and help the circuit evaluate whether it was reasonable.  But new language was added Wednesday at the end of the amended opinion requiring Koeltl to revisit the terrorism enhancement in the federal sentencing guidelines "and take that enhancement into account" -- which could add years to Stewart's sentence....

The amended opinion also directs Judge Koeltl to reweigh the fact that no persons were actually harmed by the passing of messages to and from the sheikh.

The amended opinions in US v. Stewart, which now runs 199 pages(!), can be accessed at this link.

December 24, 2009 at 10:02 AM | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Second Circuit amends Stewart sentencing ruling to suggest need for longer sentence:


That Judge Koeltl is a real piece of work. It's too bad the death penalty isn't available for Stewart.

Posted by: federalist | Dec 24, 2009 10:54:22 AM

"That Judge Koeltl is a real piece of work. It's too bad the death penalty isn't available for Stewart."

I see you're in the Christmas spirit.

Posted by: JC | Dec 24, 2009 11:20:56 AM

Federalist, break out those knitting needles.

Posted by: anon 14 | Dec 24, 2009 12:02:36 PM

I suspect federalist looks vaguely like the Grinch in real life.

Posted by: JC | Dec 24, 2009 12:38:14 PM

Federalist, Madame LeFarge will sit next to you with her knitting needles.

Posted by: Dickens addict | Dec 24, 2009 12:48:38 PM

My friends on the left:

I think it is more prudent to save your enmity for the despicable attorney Lynne Stewart rather than focusing on federalist's hyperbolic comment.

Posted by: mjs | Dec 24, 2009 1:53:57 PM


I don't think federalist was being hyperbolic. That's the scary part.

Posted by: Friend on the left | Dec 24, 2009 2:27:42 PM

Federalist on Christmas Day, plotting the destruction of all things liberal.

Posted by: JC | Dec 24, 2009 3:16:48 PM

is it really that scary? stewart passed info for terrorists--something that could have gotten thousands killed--me, i think i'd just like to see her extradited to Egypt--lol.

Posted by: federalist | Dec 24, 2009 4:02:54 PM

If we're going to start executing for behavior that MIGHT get people killed, we're going to need to start training millions of new executioners. On the bright side, though, real estate will get a lot cheaper when the population is cut in half.

Posted by: Friend on the left | Dec 24, 2009 5:02:28 PM

When you deliberately risk the lives of thousands, paying with your own isn't really much of a moral problem. Stewart is thoroughly reprehensible, and what Koeltl was thinking is simply beyond my comprehension. Maybe he subscribes to terrorism chic.

Posted by: federalist | Dec 24, 2009 8:01:57 PM

"Maybe he subscribes to terrorism chic."

You mean the same way that you subscribe to extraordinary rendition to Egypt to be tortured chic?

Posted by: JC | Dec 24, 2009 8:09:31 PM

Since Stewart committed a crime against the people of Egypt, I have little qualms about shipping her over there . . . . That's not rendition, that's simply justice.

Posted by: federalist | Dec 26, 2009 10:54:50 AM

You know perfectly well what would happen to her in Egypt. That hasn't passed for justice since the Middle Ages.

Posted by: JC | Dec 26, 2009 12:13:56 PM

federalist --

Note that with the exception of mjs, all the commentary roasts you. There is not a single word critical of Stewart's treason.

I doubt this is solely because treason against the United States is looked upon with favor. I think there's also the resentment that a criminal defense lawyer could actually be caught at it and sentenced to jail for it. We all know that the only misbehavior in the criminal justice system is by prosecutors. Ms. Stewart was just being, uh, zealous.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 27, 2009 12:00:07 PM

Not surprising. Stewart is a part of their team. I am not.

As for sending Lynne Stewart to Egypt, well, she could have helped kill thousands. I am not about to get worked up about what would happen to her over there, just as I don't get worked up about some commie bureaucrat caught taking bribes over in China.

Posted by: federalist | Dec 27, 2009 12:37:46 PM

"Stewart is a part of their team."

What team would that be?

Posted by: JC | Dec 27, 2009 2:09:16 PM

JC --

And STILL not a word of criticism for Ms. Stewart. QED.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 27, 2009 8:06:11 PM

The woman is a rightfully-convicted federal felon who abused her position in order to knowingly assist a terrorist organization. She has absolutely no business whatsoever practicing law, and she should serve a meaningful term of incarceration for her crimes. Better?

Posted by: JC | Dec 27, 2009 8:44:55 PM

Just so. Thank you. I wish Hofstra Law School had had as much sense when it invited her to be a symposium professor on legal ethics.

You might think I'm making that up, but you can research it for yourself if you care to. They actually invited her to teach legal ethics.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 27, 2009 10:32:16 PM

I remember reading that Hofstra did that, and I was quite surprised by it. I had previously read Professor Colb's article about the case on Findlaw a few years earlier, which laid out the allegations against Stewart plain as day. Here's a link to the article: click here.

I was not at all surprised when Stewart was subsequently convicted. Deliberately violating the S.A.M.s in order to transmit terrorists' communications back and forth is obviously indefensible.

Given that Stewart had already been convicted of the aforementioned allegations when Hofstra brought her on to lecture (on ethics, no less), I would readily agree that it was a very irresponsible move by the law school.

Posted by: JC | Dec 27, 2009 11:20:33 PM

Bill Otis and JC:

What irresponsible nonsense! Hofstra invited Lynne Stewart only to speak for 20 minutes at an ethics conference on Lawyering at the Edge. Stewart was invited to illustrate a case in which a lawyer went over the edge. She was subjected to some blistering criticisms (by me among other professors, as well as students) in 20 minutes of comments following her talk.

I can assure you that there wasn't a single student who said that he or she aspired to emulate Stewart by becoming a convicted felon and being disbarred. On the contrary, Stewart served as a cautionary message to the students.

Posted by: Monroe Freedman | Dec 30, 2009 11:57:51 AM

Professor Freedman --

That Hofstra would invite a traitor to speak for 20 seconds on legal ethics is appalling. She was passing information, in violation of terms she agreed to, to assist her murdering terrorist client.

Does Hofsta invite rapists to speak on the law of domestic violence? Are you having Bernie Madoff over to explain his views on fiduciary responsibility?

Decency imposes some minimal limits on who should get a law school platform. Hofstra transgressed them. It should be ashamed, but obviously isn't.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 30, 2009 11:37:57 PM

If you were familiar with ethics conferences, you would know that it is common for bar associations and law schools to invite lawyers who have committed serious offenses, and who have been convicted and disbarred, to speak to students and lawyers. The point isn't to condone what they have done, but to provide a cautionary lesson. That's what Hofstra did, and I have no apologies to the Know-Nothings among us.

Incidentally, the Hofstra conference produced a symposium of terrific articles on Lawyering at the Edge in the Hofstra Law Review. Stewart does not have an article in the symposium issue.

Posted by: Monroe Freedman | Dec 31, 2009 10:41:09 AM

Professor Freedman --

"If you were familiar with ethics conferences, you would know that it is common for bar associations and law schools to invite lawyers who have committed serious offenses, and who have been convicted and disbarred, to speak to students and lawyers."

It wasn't common at Stanford, where I got my degree, or at George Mason, where I taught as an adjunct. As a matter of fact, to my knowledge it never happened.

"The point isn't to condone what they have done, but to provide a cautionary lesson."

If Hofsta law students need a cautionary lesson that treason is a no-no, you have a problem in the admissions department. In fact, there is no realistic possibility they need such a lesson, meaning that the platform afforded to the contemptible Ms. Stewart was at best thoroughly unnecessary.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 31, 2009 11:32:05 AM

Now we have nonsense on stilts. Repeating the characterization of Stewart as having "spoken on ethics" is disingenuous given Freedman's description of what transpired. It seems the commentator deplores conference organizers and journalists who invite convicts to speak to professionally interested students and ethics professionals who will teach those students--about the what they did that got them into trouble. And the worse the conduct, the less we should hear about it, I guess, for fear of corrupting the youth or getting attention for speakers like Stewart. By this logic we ought ban reporters for NBC, CBS, CNN, PBS and the other networks from allowing felons (including terrorists) ever to appear and present their versions of their conduct--and even if they are simultaneously badgered by the most aggressive 60 Minutes interviewer-- they might somehow appear sympathetic or plausible. How terrible that Truman Capote should have showcased a mass murderer in IN COLD BLOOD; how much worse if a law professor might recommend that students watch the movie. And then there are those programs at universities where convicted drug offenders explain how they were drawn into their addiction. Where should the "traitor to our Nation" line be drawn, by the way? Would Oliver North or G.Gordon Liddy be "good" traitors or "bad" ones?

Professor Norm Silber

Posted by: Norman Silber | Dec 31, 2009 11:51:29 AM

Mr. Silber --

NO traitor is a good traitor. And I'll be looking forward to your disclosure of when G. Gordon Liddy or Oliver North was ever brought to Hofstra to lecture on legal ethics.

BTW, why do you put the word traitor in quotation marks? Do you doubt that Lynne Stewart was a traitor?

I would say that your post, in which you breezily tell me what I think, is academic arrogance on stilts, but that would be a redundancy.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jan 4, 2010 12:55:27 PM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB