Perhaps Lynne Stewart should have quit while she was behind. Convicted of abetting terror while acting as an attorney for the Blind Sheikh, Omar Abdel Rahman, Stewart had remained free on bail while appealing her conviction. Today, the federal appeals court not only upheld her conviction and revoked her bail, but they also sent the case back to the district court for reconsideration of the shockingly light 28-month sentence Stewart initially received (via JWF):
Disbarred radical lawyer Lynne Stewart is going to jail – maybe for a lot longer than she thought.
A federal appeals court Tuesday upheld her conviction for smuggling messages to her jailed terrorist client, and said she deserves more than the 28 months she got because she may have lied at her trial.
Stewart, 70, is to surrender to U.S. Marshals immediately. The Brooklyn resident has been free on bail since 2006.
Andy McCarthy, who prosecuted Rahman and faced off against Stewart in the courtroom, explains the issue of sentencing more clearly than the initial news reports:
Yes, the sentence — that’s the interesting part. The court has sent Stewart’s case back to the trial judge for reconsideration of her absurdly short 28-month jail term (after the government asked for 30 years). The sentence has divided the appellate panel. All three judges agree that the sentence needs to be reconsidered. But two judges, Sack and Calabresi, seem to be narrowing the complaint down to whether Stewart committed perjury at her trial, which — if she is found by the sentencing judge to have done so — would call for a modest increase. In dissent, Judge Walker’s point is that a 28-month sentence for the terrorism-related offenses Stewart committed is a travesty whether or not she committed perjury.
Andy also makes this point about the terror-related trial of Stewart, and its implications for the upcoming publicity-stunt fiasco for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his four co-conspirators:
By the way, since my topic in today’s column is Attorney General Holder’s sudden concern over delays in the military commission system, it’s worth pointing out that, for conduct that started around 1999, Stewart was indicted in 2002; her trial did not begin until mid-2004 and took about eight months; after that, they dawdled for over a year before finally imposing sentence in October 2006; now, a decade after the conduct, seven years after arrest, four years after trial, and three years after sentence — and mind you, she’s been free on bail since 2002 — the appeal has at long last been decided, and it has resulted in … a remand for further sentencing proceedings. And, after they someday occur, there will surely be another trip to the Second Circuit, and then an appeal to the Supreme Court. After that, the habeas corpus petitions start …
Of course, Andy isn’t arguing that Stewart should have faced any other process than the one used to try her. She committed her crimes in the US as a citizen of this country, and had the right to seek justice in court. KSM and his lunatic cohorts did not commit their actions in the US (although their conspiracy unfolded here), and they committed acts of war, not “crimes”. The government has the option of using military tribunals, and indeed will use them for dozens of other detainees at Guantanamo Bay. They chose to use the federal courts for KSM and the 9/11 plotters, however, which will mean years and years of exactly the kind of consideration KSM tried to destroy through acts of war.
Why go through all of that, when the same administration has chosen military tribunals as perfectly legitimate forums in which to adjudicate other cases of terrorists captured abroad? So far, none of the explanations offered fit the facts.
Meanwhile, Stewart will finally go where she has belonged since her conviction. Let’s hope that a terrorism conviction sentence lasts longer than the average NFL contract on further consideration.