LAWRENCE D. GERZOG
251 East 61st Street
New York, New York 10021
Letters to the Editor, Magazine
New York Times
229 West 43rd Street
New York, N.Y. 10036
Re: "Left Behind" September 22, 2002
To the Editor:
I have been practicing law in the courts of New York for over twenty years. Virtually every criminal defense lawyer I have spoken with, and many others practicing primarily civil law, believes the prosecution of Lynne Stewart is misguided and politically motivated.
At a forum held on the Stewart case at Cardozo Law School not long after the indictment was made public, over 300 people - mostly lawyers - attended. There were "leftists" lawyers to be sure, but many others as well who would not identify with that label. What seemed to unite the group was support for Ms. Stewart, not only as a "movement" lawyer but as the dedicated, well respected advocate she is.
Two years ago, I had the privilege of trying a case with Ms. Stewart and others in the Bronx. Our clients were all alleged to be members of a Latino group characterized by the government as a gang. The charges were serious, and had political overtones. The prosecution fizzled after jury selection when the District Attorney had to acknowledge that key government evidence had been tampered with. (New York Times, 4/12/00, p.B4). Without the dedication of Lynne Stewart and other attorneys like her, the government would have unbridled discretion to run roughshod over the rights of the unpopular. Anybody who questions the importance of a vigorous defense for any accused person puts all of our liberties at risk.
Now that Lynne Stewart has been cast in the role of defendant, we in the defense bar will insure that she is not "Left Behind." We will instead champion her cause.
Lawrence D. Gerzog