Statement from actress Kathleen Chalfant

April 26th, 2013

Click here to listen to the statement (M4a).

The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
‘T is mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
Portia “The Merchant of Venice”, Act 4 scene 1

This is the beginning of one of Lynne Stewart’s favorite Shakespeare speeches.  How remarkable that it should so closely fit her current situation.  She has given a lifetime of service to others. Mercy is a quality which she seems to have in unlimited amounts – Mercy for the most put-upon, the most despised, the most in need.  Her mercy, compassion, and indeed her service as an attorney was always freely and cheerfully given to anyone she represented.  She brought hope to those in despair. She brought love to the despised. .

Today, Lynne Stewart is suffering a terrible disease, alone, fifteen hundred miles from her husband, children, grandchildren and friends.  She is undergoing the painful, debilitating effects of chemotherapy without the comforting presence of her loved ones.

It seems only just that this kind and wonderful woman should, at this critical time, be shown the same measure of mercy that she has shown to others.


Kathleen Chalfant, actor
New York City

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