[News] Lynne Stewart Finds Threat Left at Her Door

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Wed Feb 9 08:56:32 EST 2005

February 9, 2005


Lawyer on Trial in Terror Case Finds Threat Left at Her Door


ynne F. Stewart, a lawyer standing trial on charges of conspiring with 
Islamic terrorists, said she received a written threat at her home in 
Brooklyn yesterday from a militant Jewish organization, as the jury 
deciding her fate finished 101/2 days of deliberations with no verdict.

Ms. Stewart said she found a five-line printed flier taped to her front 
door when she left for court yesterday morning just after 8.30. The flier 
said that Ms. Stewart and one of her clients, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, were 
"traitors to America" and referred readers to a telephone number and to the 
Web site of the Jewish Defense Organization.

A recorded voice mail message reached by dialing the number says the group 
- which describes itself as a militant Jewish group - is beginning 
"Operation Crush Terror Against Lynne Stewart." The message gives Ms. 
Stewart's home address and says she "needs to be put out of business 
legally and effectively," threatening to "drive her out of her home and out 
of the state."

Part of the campaign, the message says, is "to reach out so the jurors 
understand what she is." It adds, "And that's been done."

Several more fliers were found by people attending the trial in the streets 
around the courthouse in downtown Manhattan, and others were taped to a 
building on Broadway where Ms. Stewart's law offices were located until 

Ms. Stewart's chief defense lawyer, Michael E. Tigar, presented the flier 
and a transcript of the voice mail message to Judge John G. Koeltl in the 
courtroom in Federal District Court. Mr. Tigar decided not to ask the judge 
to inquire whether any jurors had seen the flier or heard about the threat, 
saying that the questions themselves could give the jurors information they 
had not previously known. The jurors in the seven-month trial are anonymous.

Any improper outside influence on the jurors could be grounds for a mistrial.

Mr. Tigar did ask the judge to order an investigation of the flier 
campaign, and to require the courthouse marshals to preserve surveillance 
tapes from cameras positioned outside the courthouse. Judge Koeltl did not 
take either step, but he urged prosecutors to look into what he called "law 
enforcement concerns" raised by the flier at Ms. Stewart's home.

Robin Baker, a prosecutor, argued that the fliers outside court were a 
legal form of political expression, not much different from the placards 
that Ms. Stewart's supporters have often carried there.

In a telephone interview after the jurors went home for the day, Jeff 
Klein, who said he was a board member of the Jewish Defense Organization 
and a spokesman, said the group had not tried to contact any jurors 
directly. He said the group decided to begin the campaign against Ms. 
Stewart on Monday night.

"We're stepping things up," said Mr. Klein, adding that he had recorded the 
voice mail message. "We're hoping she's convicted, but our campaign is to 
ruin her by getting her neighbors to evict her from her home, and to put 
pressure on the landlord to evict her from her office. When we're done 
making their life miserable, hopefully they will make her life miserable."

During the afternoon, Judge Koeltl met with two jurors who requested to see 
him individually, without other jurors present. Late in the day, in a sign 
that the deliberations were going slowly, two jurors sent the judge a note 
warning him of commitments that would prevent them from meeting on Feb. 17, 
eight days from now.

The Freedom Archives
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