January 30, 2008

"This is a very hard case. I'm thinking very hard."

Said 2d Circuit judge Guido Calabresi at oral argument yesterday, reminding me of that "Math is hard" Barbie doll that Mattel had to reconfigure when feminists complained. But, it's common for judges to call cases "hard." Yet it's odd to say — at oral argument — "I'm thinking very hard." It sounds like a quip. It's a hard case, so I'm thinking hard. But it's not an amusing case. It's the case of Lynne Stewart, the lawyer who was convicted of aiding terrorists, and the hard question was the requisite level of intent:
To prevent [Sheik Omar Abdel] Rahman from advocating further violence, prison officials had required Stewart and the rest of Rahman's legal team to pledge not to carry messages on his behalf. Stewart broke that pledge. In one instance, she called a reporter in Cairo to announce that Rahman was urging a terrorist organization to withdraw from a ceasefire with the government of Egypt.

Stewart has said her goal was to keep Rahman relevant in Egyptian politics and improve his morale. That argument evinced little sympathy from the bench.

"You can have the intent of serving a client," Judge Calabresi said, "but if the means of furthering that intent are a conspiracy to kill people, than don't you have that intermediate intent as well?"


Too many jims said...

"but if the means of furthering that intent are a conspiracy to kill people, than don't you have that intermediate intent as well?"

Guido really needs to learn to speak the english language. My apologies if it is actually due to poor reading/editing by the newspaper.

hdhouse said...

I've followed this case since the arrest and have been always felt something unsettling about it.

Ms. Stewart was aware that her every action, conversation, phone call, meeting, etc., were monitored, recorded, or transcribed. She is not a dumb woman and had no prior behavior other than being a pain in the ass to prosecutors and by all accounts a good advocate for her clients.

All that said, she had a 100% chance of being found out and prosecuted if her intent was to do as the government describes.

I find the entire thing bothersome and illogical.

EnigmatiCore said...

A radical leftist acting illogically and diametrically opposed to the interests of the United States? Why on earth would that confuse you?

If Allah is just, each of the 72 virgins will be Lynne Stewart.

SGT Ted said...

Stewart is a violent leftwing radical who despises the US government. She has delighted in the past at playing the subversive. She got caught. She knew what she was doing and her excuses are bullshit.

Anonymous said...

There are two people whom I don't understand why we have not executed for treason: John Walker Lindh and Lynne Stewart.

JohnSteele said...


I believe that Stewart had no clue that she was being recorded until she was arrested. The bulk of recordings were part of a non-disclosed FISA warrant that focused on one of the pseudo-paralegals, Sattar, who was in fact brokering policy decisions (i.e, how much violence and of what kinds) among members of a terrorist group. When it became apparent that several of the disagreements were being placed before the "Blind Sheikh" the recordings continued in jail.

At the time, Stewart's only concern about eavesdropping was from the guards at the door, which is why you can see her on video tape using disguising sounds and gestures, and at other times pretending to be offering legal advice.

If you read between the lines of the comments by other lawyers in Stewart's professional circles, you will realize that she's regarded as not perceiving lines and boundaries that other lawyers perceive. At the same time, she's known for courteous, professional relations with prosecutors (see "Lynne Stewart and Me,"by Andrew McCarthy), for effective advocacy, and for spending countless hours defending unpopular clients. So she is a complex person. After studying the case very closely, I concluded that you cannot resolve the policies issues by focusing on her idiosyncratic personality.

John Steele

PatCA said...

The judge is a Clinton appointee and former dean of Yale Law. Maybe he is just really liberal and trying to think of a way to let the stone guilty Stewart off, and that's why he's thinking so "hard"?


Celia Hayes said...

I wrote about Lynne Stewart almost three years ago when she was sentanced, here http://www.ncobrief.com/index.php/archives/crossing-the-line/
What I read and heard about her made me... I don't know, a little creeped out, for reasons that I tried to work out in that entry.