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Guest Name
Ralph Poynter
Guest Occupation
Lynne Stewart Defense Committee
Guest Biography

Born in Pennsylvania, 1934, son of a union orgainzer when Pittsburg was steel capital. Remained true to principles of unionism as a founding member of the UFT. Continued same, when the United Federation of Teachers joined management supporting a rascist New York City Board of Education against the communities. After leaving jail, as Chairman - Inmates Improvement Council - Riker's Island 1969, continued the struggle for justice as a private investigator. I support Lynne Stewart's struggle against double standard in the U.S. injustice system.

Former defense attorney Lynne Stewart's offense came in 2000 while defending Omar Abdel Rahman, an Egyptian cleric who in 1995 was convicted of "seditious conspiracy" for encouraging his followers to commit terrorist acts in and around New York City. She violated what were at the time a novel set of security requirements known as Special Administrative Measures, or SAMs. The measures included a communications ban on Rahman, which Stewart defied by issuing a news release to Reuters on the sheik's behalf that urged his supporters to reconsider their participation in a cease-fire with the Egyptian government.

As a result, Stewart was disbarred and sentenced to 28 months in prison. Citing the "deadly serious nature of her terrorist crimes," the Justice Department sought a far higher penalty: 15 to 30 years. The outcome of that effort culminated in November when an appellate court upheld the verdict against Stewart, revoked her bond and ordered the original trial judge, U.S. District Judge John G. Koetl, to reconsider his "breathtakingly low" sentence. Koetl's revised sentence is expected at a hearing in federal court in New York on Thursday.

Ever since her indictment in 2002, Stewart's case has captured the attention of defense attorneys and the support of groups such as the National Assn. of Criminal Defense Lawyers, which filed amicus briefs on her behalf, and George Soros' Open Society Institute, which donated $20,000 to her defense. Supporters believe the government's dogged pursuit of Stewart - whose legal odyssey has now spanned three presidents and five attorneys general - is meant to have a chilling effect. The Center for Constitutional Rights said the case represents "an attack on attorneys who defend controversial figures and an attempt to deprive these clients of the zealous representation that may be required."