Earlier this week, a judge sentenced activist lawyer Lynne Stewart to an additional ten years in prison. In 2006, Stewart was sentenced to four years (considered too low by critics) for smuggling messages from a radical leader to his followers in Egypt, but more recently an Appeals Court had suggested she receive more prison time. Judge John Koetl noted on Thursday that Stewart's remarks about her 28-month sentence—specifically how she "could do [28 months] standing on my head"—plus finding that she perjured herself during the trial showed the original sentence wasn't sufficient.
A Washington Post article from 2006 found that Stewart seemed "jaunty" after the 28-month sentence was announced. But she was not so jaunty in court: Stewart, who is being treated for breast cancer and has been serving her sentence since last fall, responded, "I have learned that no one, but particularly this 70-year-old woman, can do 28 months standing on their head. I was wrong." City Room spoke to defense lawyer Andrew Lankler, who explained that when lawyers or clients speak to the media, "You invite the law of unintended consequence."
He added, "There are three occasions where people speak to the media. The first is, you didn’t do it, your client didn’t do it, and it’s important for the world to know your client didn’t do it. The other time you talk to the media is when you totally did it - there’s no ifs, ands or buts. You might as well get out ahead of it and try to poison the jury pool as fast as possible. Every other reason, in my opinion, it’s a mistake because you don’t know how it’s going to spin."