U.S. District Judge John Koeltl was to resentence attorney Lynne Stewart on Thursday after considering the comments of appeals court judges who said he should review the role of terrorism in her case and consider if she lied when she testified at her trial.Stewart was convicted of passing on messages to Abdel-Rahman's followers despite agreements with prosecutors not to do so and in contravention of federal law. She was knowingly violating those agreements and has shown no remorse over doing so.
Stewart, facing up to 30 years in prison, was sentenced to two years and four months after her conviction on charges that she let blind Egyptian Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman communicate with a man who relayed messages to senior members of an Egyptian-based terrorist organization.
Abdel-Rahman is serving a life sentence for conspiracies to blow up New York City landmarks and assassinate Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Stewart represented him at his 1995 trial.
Stewart was sentenced in 2006 but was permitted to remain free until the appeals court ruled last November.
Initially, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a resentencing that did not seem to pressure Koeltl to boost the length of the sentence considerably. But it revised its decision a month later, saying it had "serious doubts'' whether her sentence was reasonable.
The appeals court said Koeltl might have erred if he decided the terrorism enhancement should not be applied because of Stewart's personal characteristics.
At the first sentencing, Koeltl described Stewart as "extraordinary,'' a dedicated public servant who had "represented the poor, the disadvantaged and the unpopular, often as a court-appointed attorney,'' thus providing a "service not only to her clients but to the nation.''
It also appears that she may have perjured herself in the case, which should have resulted in a far harsher sentence than originally handed down.
Judge Koeltl essentially threw the book at Stewart with a 10 year sentence.
Prosecutors had asked the judge to impose a sentence of at least 15 years. The courtroom was packed with supporters of Stewart, who applauded her entrance and shouted "No!" when she said she feared she had let them down.She'll be out in less time than that since she had begun serving her original sentence.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Dember told Koeltl that "substantial incarceration is warranted" because Stewart knew she was part of a conspiracy to murder innocent civilians.
"She repeatedly lied to the government and deceived the government," Dember said. "Ms. Stewart repeatedly committed perjury in this case."
He said she was just "another criminal who fails to accept responsibility."
In her statement to the judge, Stewart said she found prison life "worse than I could have imagined."
She added: "I will live, not standing on my head, that I know for sure — just surviving."
Still, the 10 year sentence is far more appropriate than the sentence originally handed down. Yet, even that sentence was considered too much by her supporters who bought into the notion that she was able to pass on statements urging Sheikh Rahman's followers to jihad.