By Elaine Brower
Today at United States District Court in downtown Manhattan, around the corner from where I work, I witnessed the sentencing hearing of attorney Lynn Stewart. I only had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Stewart five years ago, along with Ralph, her jovial and loving husband. I never had the honor of her defending me, but during the course of the last 5 years, I met many people who did. The courtroom today was packed, leaving 2 overflow rooms, which were also filled to capacity.
Walking into the marble and mahogany building, which I am no stranger to since I work next door, gave me a never before eerie feeling. A bronze "Lady Justice" 2 story high statue sat in the main entrance way, greeting everyone who entered. But it did not give me comfort, it only once again reminded me of the many icons of worship this country erects to deflect the true nature of the beast underneath. I thought to myself "I'd love to hang a huge banner right in the middle of her 2 story chest with a big $ sign!"
Sitting in the elaborate overflow room, with all of Lynn's supporters, then gave me comfort. Watching Lynn on the 2 screens in front of the room was very sad. She looked weak, pale and broken. She pleaded for the court's mercy by presenting her statement to the judge. In it, she declared that she no longer had a relationship with her grandson, who could not visit her any longer in the horrible prison. She said she felt alone, and withdrawn. Only when her friends and family came to visit for one hour a week did she rejuvenate for a short period, but then would retreat back into somberness and sadness. At one point she choked up when saying that if the court decided to sentence her to anytime longer than the original 28 months, it would be a like imposing the "death sentence". She reiterated that many times, in so many different ways. She threw herself at the "mercy" of the judge.
I thought to myself this is not the Lynn Stewart that I knew, if only for a short time. She was always vibrant and unafraid. She stood for true justice for the people who went unrepresented in a system that would make every attempt to smash them. Why was she begging for mercy? It broke my heart.
Then the US Attorney stood up and for 30 minutes recounted the details of the entire trial, repeating hundreds of times "we were attacked on 9/11", and "Ms. Stewart gave comfort to Islamic terrorists." These references were the cornerstone of the prosecution's argument, and he couldn't say it enough. In every way, he connected Lynn with the terrorist "murder groups", and in reality made her the real terrorist. He said "the government trusted her as a lawyer, and she shouldn't have been trusted." He referred endless times to the DVD of her press conference prior to her remand to prison in 2009, and referenced her statements that she had "no remorse."
Lucky for me I was in an overflow room. I commented, loudly, how I hoped this guy would get the pox, and I wasn't alone. People booed, and said he better not come into their neighborhoods. How could he sleep at night? I would be embarrassed to be in his shoes. Is there no dignity?
Well, I will answer my own rhetorical questions. There is no dignity in this system. There is no justice in this system. There never was, and never will be. There is only hatred, fear, and an elite system of injustice. The judge is only a puppet of the state and did what he was told to do. The prosecutor is a prostitute and regurgitates enough bullshit to make people afraid enough to go home and lock their doors so they too won't wind up like Lynn Stewart. When she was wrongfully sentenced to 10 years behind bars, there should have been a riot in the courtroom. Instead, everyone left.