By Jeff Mackler

Posted on August 9, 2013 by the Communications Committee

Dear Friends of Lynne Stewart,

This brief report is based on my conversation this evening with Lynne's husband, Ralph Poynter, who attended today's (August 8, 2013) hearing before Judge John Koeltl in his Foley Square federal district court in New York City.

Koeltl did not make any decision today. He did not indicate a date when a decision would be rendered.

But he did, roughly speaking, state that the letter of law was on the side of the prosecution while the spirit of the law was on the side of Lynne Stewart. The "law" that Koeltl referred to supposedly prohibits him from considering a request for compassionate release that does not come from the Bureau of Prisons (BOP). The latter rejected Lynne's request and thus the prosecution argued that neither Lynne nor Judge Koeltl had standing to make or consider Lynne's request. But Koelt pointed out or implied that the BOP did not properly consider the  medical evidence, which is constantly changing. He implied that the BOP might have violated this requirement under the law. The BOP, for example, stated that Lynne's condition was improving while Lynne's Forth Worth doctors, following her recent PET Scan, changed her prognosis from 24 months to 18 months. This was based on the fact that the size of the malignant tumors in her lungs had increased. Lynne has Stage 4 breast cancer.

The BOP has apparently been faced with a dilemma. It's record over the past 30 years since the 1984 law providing for compassionate release was passed has been to grant only a handful of requests, thus violating the intention of the law – to grant prisoners relief based on the medical evidence and other extraordinary circumstances.

Lynne's attorney Jill Shellow argued that the BOP had effectively violated the intention of law itself but nevertheless considered itself immune from appeal at the same time – a Catch 22 scenario to say the least. Koeltl is thus faced with making a decision that could open the door to thousands of others to apply for and receive compassionate release. In the view of Ralph Poynter, today's hearing was not a total defeat in that Koeltl seemed to leave the door open to an alternative but still unstated solution. No timeline was set for his decision.
Indeed, Lynne has already filed a second request for compassionate release based on the new medical evidence of her deteriorating condition. At the same time Lynne's appeal for a writ of certiorari (request that the Supreme Court hear her case) is still pending. A terrible tragedy may well be in the making wherein Lynne wins her appeal in court and is formally freed and indicated AFTER she is dead should she be denied compassionate release!

The struggle for every second of Lynne's life continues with full force. Lynne is urging all her supporters and defenders of human and democratic rights everywhere to vigorously renew their letters to BOP director. Write to him or call as follows:

  Mr. Charles E. Samuels, Jr., Director, Federal Bureau of Prisons, 320
  First Street, NW Washington, DC 20534 Re: Lynne Stewart, #53504-054
  Compassionate Release ~ or CALL: 202-307-3250*

This campaign is critical as are your efforts to bring Lynne home to receive the best medical care possible at the Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in NY.

In solidarity,

Jeff Mackler, West Coast Coordinator, Lynne Stewart Defense Committee


WATCH [August 9’s] Democracy Now! segment with Ralph Poynter speaking on Lynne Stewart. Amy Goodman will give a brief update on the case.


  *///*Lynne has filed a SECOND request for Compassionate Release*, so please continue to get signatures on the petition at Justice for Lynne Stewart.

HELP: Call Ralph Poynter (917) 853-9759 if you can help!

Jeff Mackler is West Coast Coordinator of the Lynne Stewart Defense Committee

For more on Lynne Stewart see

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