Judge's light term for terror lawyer Lynne Stewart ripped


Wednesday, January 30th 2008, 4:00 AM

Radical lawyer Lynne Stewart got only "a slap on the wrist" because her sentencing judge failed to consider that she'd aided the work of terrorists, a Manhattan federal prosecutor told an appeals court Tuesday.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Barkow urged the three-judge panel of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan to toss Stewart's 28-month sentence for helping a client, Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, communicate with his terrorist followers from prison. Prosecutors want her resentenced to a longer term.

Barkow accused the sentencing judge, John Koeltl, of an "abuse of discretion."

"She was sentenced as if she was not convicted ... of a crime of terrorism, which she was," Barkow said.

Stewart attorney Josh Dratel reminded the three-judge panel that no one was ever killed as a result of a message that Stewart shuttled to Islamic militants, withdrawing the blind sheik's support for a ceasefire in Egypt.

"There is no case quite like this one," appeals Judge Guido Calabresi said. "This case is a very difficult case."

His colleague, Judge John Walker, appeared to back federal prosecutors, who had urged Koeltl to sentence Stewart, 68, to a 30-year term in October 2006.

Walker said Koeltl failed to consider how Stewart abused her trust as a lawyer when he departed from established sentencing guidelines to lessen her punishment.

"We don't want total freewheeling judges just to make decisions as they choose," Walker said.

Stewart has been free on bail, pending her appeal of her conviction.

Abdel-Rahman is serving a life term for plotting to blow up the United Nations and other city landmarks.