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Second Circuit Denies Lynne Stewart's Request for Stay

Lynne Stewart is a civil rights attorney who isn't scared to handle controversial cases. Her representation of radical cleric Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, resulted in a prison sentence for her violation of the Bureau of Prisons restrictions on her ability to disseminate any information learned during her meetings with the defendant. Based on her heretofore exemplary conduct as a defense attorney, she received a sentence of twenty-eight months. Ms. Stewart was represented on appeal by a number of top volunteer attorneys who believed the prosecution was politically motivated including the legendary Duke Law School Professor Michael Tigar and Joshua Dratel. (Click here to read the briefs in her case). Four years after the appeal was filed, the Second Circuit ordered her sentenced increased and, more surprisingly, her right to appellate bond terminated despite the strong dissent of the one of the panelists. Like dissenting Judge Calabressi, one has to wonder if the subsequent events of 9/11 influenced the harsh results of this Court's ruling. Concurring Judge Walker essentially ordered 70 year old Lynn Stewart to serve a 360 month sentence. United States v Stewart, Second Circuit No. 06-5015. Click here to read the New York Times article on the ruling. On November 19, 2009, the Second Circuit denied Ms. Stewart’s motion for a stay of surrender order. (Click here to read the motion filed in the District Court one day before on the same subject; the Second Circuit Motion is not currently available). On November 20, 2009, Ms. Stewart voluntarily surrendered herself to the U.S. Marshalls. A motion for reconsideration of the denial was filed on November 20, 2009 and remains undecided as of Thanksgiving (Click here to see the docket sheet as of November 26, 2009). According to Ms. Stewart’s personal webpage, she is currently incarcerated at the Metropolitan Correctional Center.

Click here
to read the New York Times story. Click here to read Professor Marjorie Cohn’s take on the ruling. To read most of the case file against Ms. Stewart, click here to go to her online document collection at

(This story was originally posted on November 18th and significantly updated on November 26th)