09 Feb 2005 00:17:20 GMT
By Gail Appleson

NEW YORK, Feb 8 (Reuters) – Two jurors in the closely watched terrorism trial of a New York defense lawyer met privately with the judge in the case on Tuesday in an indication there may be serious issues affecting deliberations.

The jurors’ request to meet with the judge came during the panel’s 11th day of deliberations in the case against leftist attorney Lynne Stewart, who is charged with supporting terrorist activity. The Manhattan federal jury is scheduled to resume deliberations on Wednesday.

Although the jurors’ conversations were not made public, legal experts began speculating late last week that the length of deliberations could indicate that there were deep divisions among the panel’s members. If there are problems, the judge could instruct the jury, which heard seven months of evidence, to keep trying to reach a verdict.

At issue is whether Stewart, a feisty New York defender of the poor and unpopular, intentionally helped a jailed militant Muslim communicate with violent followers. Prosecutors say her actions could have led to renewed violence in Egypt.

Stewart, 65, denies any wrongdoing and insists she was doing her job by zealously representing her client.

The charges against Stewart stem from her actions in representing Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, who was convicted in 1995 of conspiring to attack U.S. targets — a plot prosecutors say included the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.
The case has attracted attention from U.S. lawyers, some of whom believe Stewart is the target of vindictive prosecutors and others who say she willingly broke the law.

In a separate development on Tuesday, the militant Jewish Defense Organization posted flyers outside the Manhattan federal courthouse, on Stewart’s front door, and in her Brooklyn neighborhood calling her a traitor.

The flyers urge readers to call a phone number to “find out what you can do.” Callers hear a message that accuses Stewart supporting terrorism against Jews, Israel and America. It states that she should be put out of business and gives her home address.

Jeff Klein, who identified himself as a spokesman for the group, confirmed that the group had posted the fliers and the purpose was to “drive her out of town.” He said that while the phone message says that the group wants the jury to understand “what she is,” he told Reuters the organization has not tried to contact any of jurors.

Stewart’s lawyer, Michael Tigar, informed U.S. District Judge John Koeltl of the fliers and the phone messages. The lawyers in the case did not think the jurors, whose names are secret and who are driven to the courthouse in unmarked government vans, had seen the flyers. However, Koeltl said he would order the U.S. Marshal Service to take extra precautions in protecting the jurors.