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October 16, 2006

Lynne Stewart gets 28 months ... reasonable?

As detailed in this AP report, "lawyer Lynne Stewart was sentenced Monday to 28 months in prison for helping a client, a blind sheik who plotted to blow up New York City landmarks, communicate with his followers."  Since, as detailed here, the government was asking for 30 years, and the defense was seeking probation, both could possibly argue on appeal that this sentence is unreasonable.

If the guideline range was around the 30 years that the government was requesting, this many be yet another record-setting variance coming from Manhattan (see other example here).  Whether it is a reasonable one may depend on what Second Circuit panel gets this case.

October 16, 2006 at 03:08 PM | Permalink


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Civil rights lawyer Lynne Stewart will be sentenced in New York for aiding terrorists. Stewart was c [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 17, 2006 2:32:14 PM


I am pretty sure Lynne Stewart is thanking the heavens right now. Though she asked for probation, this is as good a result as she could conceivably have hoped for. I personally expected something well above 5 years.

If the government's pre-sentencing rhetoric is sincere, I do expect them to appeal.

Posted by: Marc Shepherd | Oct 16, 2006 3:25:35 PM

And all the lawyers trying to represent accused or convicted terrorists and chafing at restrictions on their communications can thank Lynne Stewart. No, the lawyer/carrier pigeon is not a delusional product of government paranoia; it really happens.

Not all below-guidelines sentences are unreasonable, but this one is.

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | Oct 16, 2006 4:41:35 PM

Prosecutors tend to ask for extremely severe sentences practically no matter what the crime, and in cases like this it is difficult to tell when the crime is truly serious, and when they are just posturing.

It seems to be undisputed that Lynne Stewart's actions did not actually help any terrorist, nor was she attempting to do so. The government's proposed 30-year sentence, therefore, must have been intended almost exclusively as a general deterrent -- none of the other usual goals of sentencing being relevant in this case.

I would have to question whether 30 years in prison for a 67-year-old cancer patient is really the minimum sentence required to meet the ends of justice. We have become inured to these long sentences, but the fact is that even five years in prison is an awfully long time for a first offender who presents no ongoing danger to society.

Posted by: Marc Shepherd | Oct 16, 2006 5:23:51 PM

Lynne Stewart was a victim of her own passion.
Does anyone know if she has bail pending
appeal? 30 years is of course a joke. She
is facing disbarment and prison. Let's see
if she is vindicated on appeal like Quattrone.

Posted by: Ronald Richards | Oct 16, 2006 8:27:05 PM

Yes, she remains free on bail pending appeal.

Posted by: Marc Shepherd | Oct 16, 2006 9:08:15 PM

The government calculated her guidelines sentence at 360 months to life. It will be interesting to see what the circuit does on appeal.

Posted by: | Oct 17, 2006 10:09:23 AM

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