Lynne Stewart on the Steady Evisceration of the Right to Counsel
Lynne Stewart is one of the best known peoples’ lawyers in recent history. After a long career fighting against state repression on behalf of her clients, she’s now being held in a federal prison-hospital in Texas, where she is receiving belated treatment for late-stage cancer. Her current illness has been exacerbated by the neglect which generally characterizes medical care for prisoners in America. Despite many calls for compassionate release, the United States continues to insist on keeping her in prison for violating a prison regulation by releasing a press statement for a client, or as the United States calls it, “providing material support to terrorism.” We urge everyone reading this to sign the petition for compassionate release of Lynne Stewart.
What follows is a statement from Lynne, regarding the continuing rollback of the right to counsel:
Oct 28, 2013
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.
Read the rest here