IMRA Interviewed Esther Pollard, wife of Jonathan Pollard, in English on 13 August 2003.
IMRA: Jonathan Pollard has a new court date, September 2, 2003. You must be very excited about it.
Esther Pollard: [silence].
IMRA: But tell me, Esther, it has to mean something that Jonathan will finally get to testify. Jonathan will finally get to tell his own story.
Esther Pollard: No, Aaron, Jonathan will not get to speak at all. He will not testify, nor will anyone else.
IMRA: Isn't this the evidentiary hearing that Jonathan has waited so long for?
Esther Pollard: No. It is not an evidentiary hearing.
IMRA: So it's an appeal?
Esther Pollard: No it is not an appeal either.
IMRA: Well then, what is it? A retrial?
Esther Pollard: Unfortunately the September 2 court date is not the evidentiary hearing we were hoping for; nor is it an appeal, and it is certainly not a retrial. It is simply another round of oral arguments.
IMRA: What is the difference?
Esther Pollard: At an evidentiary hearing, or an appeal or a retrial, the merits of Jonathan's case would be heard and his release might be obtained. Witnesses can be called; Jonathan could testify if his attorneys want him to. But this upcoming round of oral arguments does not even look at the merits of Jonathan's case.
Esther Pollard: In the simplest possible terms it is just more discussion. The court will hear only from the lawyers, and briefly at that. And all that the court will look at is whether or not his attorneys have the right to continue to argue the cases they filed nearly 3 years ago.
IMRA: You mean the two cases they filed in 2000?
Esther Pollard: Yes. The first case is a Motion for Resentencing. It asks for an evidentiary hearing so that our attorneys can demonstrate that the Draconian sentence Jonathan received was unjustly obtained as a result of ineffective assistance of counsel and in violation of Jonathan's constitutional rights.
The second case asks the court to order the Government to allow Jonathan's security-cleared defense counsel access to the secret portions of Jonathan's own court docket, so that they can effectively represent him, particularly in regard to clemency proceedings.
IMRA: Those two cases were filed about 3 years ago. How were they decided?
Esther Pollard: That's just it, Aaron, they never were decided.
IMRA: You mean to tell me that they are still sitting on the judge's desk waiting for a decision, nearly three years later?
Esther Pollard: Yes. Exactly. We had hoped that we might get a decision but instead....
IMRA: How would that help?
Esther Pollard: A decision - even a negative decision on those two cases - would allow us to move forward either to a real hearing which would bring Jonathan's release, or to Appeal. But as long as there is no decision on those two cases we remain in a legal No Man's Land, stuck in neutral gear.
IMRA: Let me understand; in other words, no matter what goes on at this hearing on September 2nd, it still does not give you a decision that will allow Jonathan's case to go forward to appeal any time soon.
Esther Pollard: That sounds about right.
IMRA: So is this just a stalling device? The court can appear to be handling the cases, while in effect avoiding making any decision that would allow Jonathan to move forward?
Esther Pollard: Let me put it this way, Aaron: both sets of attorneys have long since gone on record that the cases have been fully briefed and that all that is needed is a decision by the court one way or another.
Esther Pollard: And instead of getting a decision, what we got was a court order for the attorneys to appear for yet another set of oral arguments.
IMRA: Is standard procedure?
Esther Pollard: No. Usually oral arguments belong to an appeals phase, but this is not an appeal.
IMRA: So why doesn't Jonathan appeal?
Esther Pollard: Catch-22. He can't appeal until a decision on the cases is made. And the court still has not made any decision. We would welcome any decision on the cases that have been gathering dust for the last 3 years.
IMRA: Even a negative decision?
Esther Pollard: Yes! Of course! Then we could go to Appeal!
IMRA: So again, this new hearing just gives the appearance of progress, without actually moving Jonathan's case forward one iota. That a real decision can be stalled again for - who knows - maybe even a few more years?
Esther Pollard: True. Remember - and I know that this is hard for most people to understand - but all that this is, is a date for oral arguments. It is NOT an appeal, and it is not a trial. It is just more discussion about the cases that have ALREADY been "fully briefed".
IMRA: So why are they bringing Jonathan all the way to Washington - at considerable tax payer expense, not to mention the danger and trauma to Jonathan considering his health?
Esther Pollard: That is a good question, Aaron. I wish we knew.
IMRA: Is there any chance that this hearing could set Jonathan free?
Esther Pollard: No. It is not a trial. Not even a hearing. Just more talk.
IMRA: Esther what is the best you and Jonathan can hope for out of all of this?
Esther Pollard: A miracle!