Legal Ethics

Ex-Lawyer Lynne Stewart ‘Stunned’ by Enhanced Sentence for Aiding Terrorism

Former lawyer Lynne Stewart was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Thursday for passing messages from an imprisoned sheik to his followers in Egypt.

Stewart’s original sentence was only 28 months in prison, a penalty that Stewart once said she could serve “standing on my head.” U.S. District Judge John Koeltl resentenced Stewart on Thursday after a federal appeals court ordered the judge to reconsider, according to stories by the New York Law Journal, the New York Times and Reuters.

The court said Koeltl should consider enhancements for terrorism, perjury and abusing her position of trust as a lawyer, the New York Law Journal says. Stewart’s conviction for aiding terrorism was based on her violation of prison administrative measures designed to keep the sheik from leading a terrorist group from his prison cell.

When the new sentence was announced, there was “a collective gasp” from Stewart’s supporters, followed by a few shrieks and sobs, the Times says.

Offered a chance to speak, Stewart stood. “I’m somewhat stunned, Judge, by the swift change in my outlook,” she said. “We will continue to struggle on to take all available options to do what we need to do to change this.”

Koeltl is a former member of the ABA Journal Board of Editors.

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