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July 15, 2010

Any predictions for today's scheduled resentencing of Lynne Stewart?

As detailed in this AP piece, which is headlined "Government Seeks Tough Sentence Against NY Lawyer; NY Lawyer Who Helped Relay Messages From Blind Egyptian Sheik Could Get Much Longer Sentence," today is the scheduled resentencing of Lynne Stewart. Here are the basics:

A judge was poised to decide whether the government and some fellow judges were right when they said a 70-year-old former civil rights lawyer convicted in a terrorism case received too much leniency when she was sentenced to just over two years in prison.

U.S. District Judge John Koeltl was to resentence attorney Lynne Stewart on Thursday after considering the comments of appeals court judges who said he should review the role of terrorism in her case and consider if she lied when she testified at her trial.

Stewart, facing up to 30 years in prison, was sentenced to two years and four months after her conviction on charges that she let blind Egyptian Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman communicate with a man who relayed messages to senior members of an Egyptian-based terrorist organization.

Abdel-Rahman is serving a life sentence for conspiracies to blow up New York City landmarks and assassinate Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Stewart represented him at his 1995 trial. Stewart was sentenced in 2006 but was permitted to remain free until the appeals court ruled last November.

Initially, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a resentencing that did not seem to pressure Koeltl to boost the length of the sentence considerably. But it revised its decision a month later, saying it had "serious doubts" whether her sentence was reasonable. The appeals court said Koeltl might have erred if he decided the terrorism enhancement should not be applied because of Stewart's personal characteristics.

At the first sentencing, Koeltl described Stewart as "extraordinary," a dedicated public servant who had "represented the poor, the disadvantaged and the unpopular, often as a court-appointed attorney," thus providing a "service not only to her clients but to the nation."

About 100 supporters of Stewart marched past the federal courthouse in lower Manhattan on Wednesday evening, carrying signs that said "Free Lynne Stewart" and "We Stand With Lynne Stewart." They then walked around the corner to the federal prison where Stewart is held and rallied there.

In court papers, prosecutors have asked for Stewart to receive a "severe sentence" of between 15 and 30 years in prison, saying she had carried out a plan to smuggle terrorist messages from Abdel-Rahman to his Middle East followers and had engaged in "extraordinarily severe criminal conduct."

I predict that Stewart will receive a sentence in the 6 to 8 year range.  I think it virtually certain that she will be getting a longer prison term than the first time around, but I also feel confident predicting that Judge Koeltl will not want to give her a term so long that it amounts to a functional life sentence.  Consequently, I will be surprised if Stewart gets a sentence of less than three years or more than ten, and my prediction is really just a splitting the difference between these expected benchmarks.

July 15, 2010 at 11:18 AM | Permalink


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You were just shy professor, her sentence is 10 years. With good time credits and time served she'll be up for release in 2018.

Posted by: MikeinCT | Jul 15, 2010 6:07:15 PM

Someone who deserves both her sentence and her supporters. A rare combination.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Jul 15, 2010 7:08:57 PM

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