SharksWithLasers -- Seth Cooper

A CUTTING-EDGE BLOG FOR THE WORLD OF THE 21st CENTURY, Currently operated by Seth L. Cooper, a 27 year-old attorney in Seattle (sethlcooper at comcast dot net)

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

McCARTHY DECONSTRUCTS THE TERRORIST LAWYER. Andrew J. McCarthy has penned my favorite read of the day--an article in NRO discussing his interactions with recently-convicted, leftwing attorney Lynne Stewart. As a federal prosecutor, McCarthy squared off against Stewart in the Sheikh Abdel Rahman case. In the article, "Lynne Stewart & Me," he recounts his encounters with Stewart and his impressions of this sad, sad person.

McCarthy has many kind words for Stewart, through his interactions with her. Having personally heard her speak, this doesn’t surprise me. She doesn’t act as wild-eyed or crazy as her occasional left-wing, authoritarian comments would suggest. But McCarthy goes on to note:
Don’t get me wrong. I do despise what Lynne represents. To hear the media's "civil rights lawyer" tag monotonously attached to her name is Orwellian to the point of inducing dysentery. In America, we have an ingenious constitutional framework that promotes unprecedented economic and social freedom, not to mention nigh-uninhibited human creativity. It is rightfully the envy of the world. It is the fortress that safeguards all civil rights worthy of the name. And ... it is the system that Lynne Stewart, in her hallucinogenic adulation of bloody revolution for the sake of nothing more than revolution (and its attendant idol worship of monsters like Mao and Stalin and Castro and, of course, Abdel Rahman), would supplant. Thus, it's been impossible to read the fawning pro-Stewart coverage in the New York Times for the past two years and not wonder whether either the newspaper or Lynne understands that if the causes they promote ever actually achieved their ends, the very first thing the new regimes would do is shut down useful idiots like the New York Times and Lynne Stewart.

McCarthy later observes:
I couldn't square the lawyer who so amiably conducted herself within the rules with the rebel who so ostentatiously sought to supplant the rules. All I knew, though, was that when she made a representation to me within the four-corners of a very long and combative trial, I thought I could take it to the bank. In twenty years, I have known too many adversaries about whom that could not be said.

He then goes on to raise a very important point:
…there are lines between proper advocacy and misconduct, and they are well known. Here, Lynne was so far over them that, to be blunt, it is insulting for her and her allies to suggest otherwise. Yet, they thoughtlessly cavil about a Justice Department witch-hunt against lawyers who take on the defense of the most repulsive criminals and terrorists. It's blatant nonsense — and they know better.

McCarthy is exactly right about the proper role of an attorney. An attorney is supposed to be an advocate for their client who protects their rights, NOT an enabler of criminal activity or a co-conspirator in terrorism.

This distinction appears altogether lacking in the minds of some commentators on this case. Even Judge Andrew Napolitano comes to Lynne’s defense in his recent book, Constitutional Chaos: What Happens When Government Breaks its Own Laws. Judge Napolitano would do well to follow McCarthy’s account of the Blind Sheik’s trial and Stewart’s prison visits to the Sheikh after he was convicted. He also could consider the fact that Stewart could have challenged some of the prison regulations put in place concerning the Blind Sheikh BEFORE she broke them.

I am thankful to McCarthy (now at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies) for his work in the Blind Sheik’s case, and also for this profound read.

(Downtown Seattle, WA)

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