This past week the criminal defense legal community lost two legends: Lynne F. Stewart and William J. Genego.
Lynne F. Stewart, a former teacher in Harlem, mother of seven and librarian, described by Democracy Now! as a “people’s lawyer who represented the poor and revolutionaries. Many considered her a political prisoner herself when she was given a 10-year sentence for distributing press releases on behalf of one of her clients, Omar Abdel-Rahman, an Egyptian cleric known as the “blind Sheikh.” “I was never happier than walking into court,” she said.
Attorney Leonard Weinglass said Stewart’s sentence would “mark this era as the era of the war on terrorists, which includes the war on lawyers who defend those who are accused of terrorism. To put her behind bars when no one was injured, no one was harmed, when those who produced the torture memos, those who produced the war are going free and even prospering is really the irony of our time.”
Attorney William J. Genego was described by the LA Times as a prominent trial and appellate attorney who successfully fought to overturn the wrongful murder convictions of at least five people serving life sentences. His former law partner said, “He liked to represent the underdog and righting a wrong.” Another lawyer and friend, said, “He had an indefatigable passion for justice for the disenfranchised…He wanted to be there for people who had nobody.” U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Reinhardt said Attorney Genego was “a model of what a lawyer should be: a really good person.”