NY Times Obituary for Pollard Sentencing Judge
March 1, 2000 - Eric Pace
Aubrey E. Robinson Jr., 77, Judge in the Jonathan Pollard Spy
Aubrey E. Robinson Jr., chief judge of the United States District of
Columbia Court for the District of Columbia from 1982 to 1992, died on
Sunday at his home in Washington. He was 77.
The cause was a heart attack, the Associated Press reported.
In his most notable ruling, Judge Robinson handed down the severest
sentence possible, life in prison, to Jonathan Jay Pollard, for spying
on Israel's behalf.
The sentence for Mr. Pollard in 1987, which he is serving at the Federal
Correctional Institute in Butner, North Carolina, has proven enduringly
Since 1998, the Clinton administration has been reviewing a request
from Israel that Mr. Pollard be released. Supporters of Mr. Pollard argue
that a [plea agreement] deal, under which he was to have received a lesser
sentence, was reneged on.
Judge Robinson pronounced his sentence on Mr. Pollard, then a 32 year-old
former civilian intelligence analyst for the Navy, who had pleaded guilty
to spying for Israel, in a highly emotional session in Federal District
Court in Washington.
While the judge disclosed his sentence, the defendant's [former]
wife Anne Henderson Pollard, then 26, fell to the floor screaming, "No!
No!" Soon afterward, the judge sentenced her to two concurrent 5 year terms
for her role in the espionage conspiracy.
Mr. Pollard had been privy to sensitive papers as a member of the the
Navy's Anti-Terrorist Alert Center in Suitland Maryland.
The Justice Department had not called for a life sentence for him but
for a "substantial" imprisonment. That imprecise request [which relied
on the fact that the median sentence for such an offense is 2 to 4 years]
was an ingredient of a plea agreement under which Mr. and Mrs. Pollard
pleaded guilty and committed themselves to cooperate with the authorities.
But earlier in the proceedings Judge Robinson took issue with the defense's
contentions that Mr. Pollard's criminal activity in providing Israel with
classified information had not hurt the United States because the two countries
were close allies. [In fact, the defense's contention was that the Government
had not provided a shred of evidence that any damage had been done by Pollard,
and indeed Pollard was never indicted for harming the United States. See
Legal Texts Page.]
Mr. Pollard's lawyer, Richard A. Hibey, told Judge Robinson, "The damage
here [if indeed there was any damage] is not serious damage to the United
States. [See Legal Texts 1987, Part I: Damage to US.]
The judge replied, "I fail to see how you can make that claim,"
and he cited a classified affidavit from Secretary of Defense Caspar W.
Weinberger that gave the main points of the damage done. [To this day,
Jonathan Pollard has never been permitted to challenge the Weinberger document
in a court of law. Weinberger has since stated that Robinson privately
solicited Weinberger's last-minute submission without informing the defense
counsel. See new Weinberger Bombshell.]
Judge Robinson was also known for his award of punitive damages to the
surviving relatives of passengers who died in the crash of Korean Air Lines
Flight 007, shot down in Soviet air space in 1983. But his decision was
reversed on the ground that it was not justified under existing law.
A native of Madison, N.J., Aubrey Eugene Robinson, Jr. received a bachelor's
degree and his law degree from Cornell University. After practicing law
in Washington and serving briefly on a juvenile court there, he was appointed
an associate judge of the district court in 1966 by President Lyndon B.
Johnson, who later named him chief judge.
Judge Robinson became a senior judge when he turned 70, in 1992, and
remained on the bench until his death.
He married Sara Payne in 1946, and she died in 1972.
His survivors include his wife, the former Doris A. Washington, whom
he married in 1973; two daughters, Paula Elaine Collins and Sheryl Robinson,
both of San Francisco; a stepdaughter, Jaqueline Washington of Rockville
Md.; a sister and a brother and two granddaughters.
NB [Clarifications in square brackets were inserted by
Justice for Jonathan Pollard]
Legal Texts Page