White Collar Crime Humor
Plea Bargaining and the Constitution

The Beginning of the End?

Listening to Lynne Stewart tell it, this is the beginning of the end of effective advocacy in our courts. The government is silencing the voice of the people. 

Sure, she is smarting from her new-found status as felon. But the hyperbole is a little much.

Stewart's client, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, is doing life for terror-related charges. Seems he and his band of merry Islamic followers wanted to bomb their way into our hearts and minds. A little urban renewal Beiruit style.

Raman has a lot of followers willing to, well, sheik, rattle and roll at his command. So he was placed in solitary confinement. His contact with the external world limited to his wife and his lawyer, Ms. Stewart.

Of course, Ms. Stewart signed a pledge not to serve as a conduit for the Sheik. And of course she broke the pledge.

I'm not so sure breaking this pledge should amount to imprisonment. Indeed, it was refreshing to see that she was permitted to leave the courthouse after her conviction without needing to post a bond.

Her crime? Thinking that lawyers are above the law.

We are advocates. We are limited solely by our creativity, the rules of professional conduct, and, yes, the law.

I admire Lynne Stewart. She is a role model, the sort of ovaries to the wall advocate who will take a tough case and fight any and all comers on behalf of an unpopular client. But I disagree with the contention that her conviction reflects some grave injustice, or assault on creative and vigorous advocacy.

No courthouse doors were closed to Stewart. She had access to her client. What she did not have was a broadcasting license. Forgetting that was her downfall.

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