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National Conference of Black Lawyers Statement Regarding the Conviction of Lynne Stewart

November 11, 2005

Those of us who know Lynne Stewart as a lawyer of great integrity and as a zealous advocate for all of her clients, even those whose cases are considered unpopular, are saddened and outraged by the conviction returned against her on February 10, 2005. Convicted on all counts including violating the SAMS provision, a subsection of the Patriot Act, Ms. Stewart now faces decades in prison. This conviction, secured by government prosecutors who were permitted to raise the specter of Osama Bin Laden repeatedly during the trial and thereby inflame the jury, will have a chilling effect on lawyers who contemplate zealous and competent representation of clients charged with crimes of “alleged” terrorism or any other “unpopular” crime during this climate of “terrorism” hysteria.

As Lynne Stewart stated in her own words, “You can’t lock up the lawyers”. NCBL understands and supports the proposition that everyone deserves and needs competent, zealous representation, and an attorney’s representation of his/her client should not be held hostage to the prospect that the attorney may later be prosecuted and convicted, in violation of the 5th, 6th and 14th Amendments to the United States constitution. Government eavesdropping on attorney/client conversations must cease immediately-as that practice can now (following the conviction of Lynne Stewart) be seen for what it truly is, a way to gain evidence against lawyers for prosecution. Otherwise, lawyers-under fear of prosecution-will simply not be willing to engage in full and complete discussions with their clients, a situation that will surely hinder the lawyer’s quality of representation.

The National Conference of Black Lawyers does not support open defiance to just and fair laws, but it firmly and uncompromisingly opposes the legal lynching of lawyers in highly politicized trials, no matter how that process may be otherwise “packaged”.

The Federal Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit should take an objective look at this case against Lynne Stewart and reverse in its entirety, this conviction.

Your letters and donations can make a difference! For more information, visit http://www.lynnestewart.org or write The Lynne Stewart Defense Committee:

350 Broadway, Suite 700, New York, NY 10013
212-625-9696.

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