[Pnews] Lynne Stewart's Message to the National Lawyers Guild Convention

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Nov 5 10:54:43 EST 2013


October 28, 2013
Message to the National Lawyers Guild 
<http://lynnestewart.org/2013/10/28/lynnes-message-to-the-nlg-2013-convention/> 2013 
Convention

Brothers and Sisters of the National Lawyers Guild;

I wanted to send you this most important Health Bulletin–Not Personal 
(pause) but on the steady evisceration of the Right to Counsel, the 
bulwark of all we do.

Within the last weeks, a suspect was forcibly detained for crimes 
against the US.  He was taken from Libya to an offshore (ship?) where he 
was being interrogated, read tortured.

When the Public Defenders of the Southern District of New York, where 
his case is ostensibly pending, attempted to have counsel appointed for 
him, they were turned down in no uncertain terms by Judges using the now 
all too common weasel words.  But this is not a new phenomenon–it is 
apparent over and over again and the question remains–what are WE, who 
claim to be the last protection against an overreaching state going to 
do about it?
How important is this ?

I need to tell a couple of anecdotes about lawyering–my dear deceased 
friend Bill Kunstler in the tumultuous years in which the FBI-JTTF was 
rounding up the remnants of the Underground, Sekou Odinga, a member of 
the Black Panthers and then the Black Liberation Army, related to me 
that he had been detained in a Queens NYC precinct for many hours, was 
being water boarded by the police in one of the toilets, and was really 
feeling it badly when all at once he heard the booming voice of the 
Great Kunstler echoing through the hallways demanding to see his client 
and he knew that he had been saved.

The other story was one that I told at an earlier convention and a young 
lawyer from San Diego wrote to tell me that it had turned her life 
around.  After my arrest, Ralph and I were stuck in Manhattan traffic, 
when a bicycle messenger pulled up and tapped on my window.  When I 
opened it he said in an excited and joyous voice “You THE Lawyer !!  You 
the LAWYER !!!   Indeed I was and Indeed it was and is my greatest 
ambition and accomplishment to be THE lawyer.

Back in the day and I mean way back, when this adversary system had its 
origins, the accused had the right to select a champion to fight for 
their rights and I mean fight–jousting, swordplay, mace and chain — ok 
perhaps a little hyperbole, BUT the message is clear–we were hired for 
our brawn as well as brains, our courage as well as legal acumen.

We need to get courage and creativity in combat, back into the 
equation.   It’s not about schmoozing the prosecution or the Judge.  How 
many courtrooms have I walked into where there was not one friendly 
face–there was just me and the client ?  Even the stenographers were 
hostile !  And that’s ok because I was there for only one reason, the 
one I took an oath to zealously pursue, the defense of my client.  Was 
it fearsome personally?  Of course.  But to do otherwise was more so.

I urge everyone to return to the days of robust lawyering.  Be Bill 
Kunstler in the precinct.  Be “THE LAWYER” .  Be the champion who 
defends fearlessly.  When I say that the right to counsel is being 
eviscerated I mean that the forces of the empire are very busy removing 
the nerves, the hearts and guts of the Fifth Amendment and leaving it a 
shell of what it was and can be.  We are the opposition that need to 
gather our shields and swords in its defense and be selfless and brave. 
Let us press forward–Instead of the derision we often face, let us all 
strive to be “the Lawyer” respected and honored.

Lynne Stewart













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