Thursday, February 17


The mainstream media isn't talking about it, but the Lynne Stewart conviction is a story that should strike fear in the hearts of Americans who prize our civil liberties and system of justice.

Jennifer Van Burgen, writing in Truthout:

Furthermore, how is the DOJ to determine that an attorney has violated SAM by "passing messages" to or from a client?

The answer: by eavesdropping on the lawyer/client conversation! (John Ashcroft admitted that the recent DOJ regulation allowing itself to monitor communications between lawyers and clients was written with Stewart in mind.)

What about the attorney/client privilege? (Another ethical duty as well as a rule of evidence and a rule of civil procedure.)3 Not even a judge can invade that, unless she determines it has been waived.

One legal scholar states: "To permit the attorney to reveal to others what is disclosed, would be not only a gross violation of a sacred trust upon his part, but it would utterly destroy and prevent the usefulness and benefits to be derived from professional assistance."4

So. The DOJ can invade attorney/client confidentiality, control what kinds of information can pass between the attorney and client, force attorneys to violate their ethical obligations to their clients, and it is the message-passing attorney who is guilty of a crime?

Seems like someone took a wrong turn here.
Fear obviously triggers our self-protective instincts, but the fact of the matter is that there is no way to absolutely ensure safety. There was no way before 9/11 and there is no way now. No matter where you live or what you do for a living. Life is inherently hazardous. The road that Bush and Ashcroft are taking us down leads to an underground cave. But Americans, like Bernard Shaw's Joan of Arc, have historically preferred death to life lived in a dungeon. Fear cannot be our Constitution. We cannot let fear submerge and destroy the principles that make this country great.

Former Superior Court of New Jersey Judge Andrew Napolitano:

No doubt the outcome of this case will have a chilling effect on lawyers who might represent unpopular clients. Since 9/11 the federal government's message has been clear: if you defend someone we say is a terrorist, we may declare you to be one of them, and you will lose everything.

The Stewart conviction is a travesty. She faces up to 30 years in prison for speaking gibberish to her client and the truth to the press. It is devastating for lawyers and for any American who may ever need a lawyer. Shouldn't the Justice Department be defending our constitutional freedoms rather than assaulting them?

There's more here. And oh my God, the freepers are screaming this at the top of their lungs: Soros Funded Convicted Terror Lawyer.

I like to quote the Michael Douglas character from the film The American President when he defends the ACLU: "America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You've got to want it bad, because it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say, "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil who is standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the 'land of the free'? Then the symbol of your country cannot just be a flag. The symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Now show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then you can stand up and sing about the 'land of the free.'"


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