Dec 17, 2007 Congratulations to Sami Al-Arian and Abdul Rahman al-Lahem’s client – Speak up for Sean Conway
"I read the news today, oh boy," and it was great news indeed.
On December 4 and 7, I blogged about Sami Al-Arian, including his then-ongoing civil contempt incarceration. This morning, I was welcomed to an e-mail from Line Halvorsen, the director of USA vs. Al-Arian, that Sami has been released from his contempt detention, which now makes hit likely he will complete his prison term for his Florida federal conviction in the first half of 2008. Sami’s lead lawyer in the contempt matter, Jonathan Turley, bluntly sums it up as follows on his very active blog, which I have just added to Underdog’s blogroll:
"Unable to convict Dr. Al-Arian before a jury, prosecutors have sought to mete out their own brand of justice through the grand jury system. It is a tactic used in other cases where the Justice Department where the government creates the perfect Catch-22 for unconvicted citizens: choose between a perjury trap (where the slightest inconsistency or omission is criminally charged as perjury) and a contempt charge for refusing to enter the perjury trap. It has specifically used this approach with other defendants who had the temerity to fight criminal charges and win in federal court."
Professor Turley teaches at my law school alma mater George Washington University. How I wish he were there when I were there, not only to take his classes, but to have another professor willing to stand up against injustice and not to candy-coat his words in the process. This is as opposed to another law professor — who appeared to represent the sentiments of too many of them — who refused to sign a human rights petition that I was circulating, for Amnesty International I believe, not because she did not agree with it, but because she was concerned that doing so would get her on "one of those [black]lists." Maybe she had not received tenure yet.
On December 5, I blogged in support of Saudi lawyer Abdul Rahman al-Lahem, the lawyer representing, pro bono, the woman sentenced to six months in jail and 200 lashes after being gang-raped after not following Saudi Arabia’s prohibition against women being alone with unrelated men, and not staying quiet about it. Very prominently today, CNN News (which provides news feeds to my cellphone) announced that King Abdullah pardoned this woman. I hope this also spells the end to a lawyers’ disciplinary committee actions concerning his publicly criticizing his client’s unfair treatment by the judiciary.
Justice sometimes is done. We just need much more of it done more quickly.
Everyone, please speak out for justice loudly and clearly every day, from your blogposts, on the street, from your pen, and everywhere else. In so doing, at the very least those doing injustice and considering doing injustice will hear our voices in the process, which sometimes will cause them more discomfort than if they were meting out injustice in a vacuum.
Now it is time to get a trifecta by speaking out for lawyer Sean Conway, who faces bar disciplinary action for having exercised his First Amendment right to bluntly criticize a judge, on the JAA Blog. (Consequently, Saudi lawyer Abdul Rahman al-Lahem has company in getting heat from bar disciplinary authorities for criticizing the judiciary; it is easier to understand such sanctions happening in Saudi Arabia, which makes no claim to be a bastion of liberty, but why is it happening in the United States, whose governments make so many efforts to proclaim to the world that the United States is a beacon of liberty?) American society is no place to have judges protected from such criticism as if they were ensconced in thrones. Judges are part of the government, and ours is a government that is present to serve the people, not the other way around. Thrones have no place in the United States. Jon Katz.