WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A lawyer for Jonathan Pollard, a former U.S. Navy intelligence analyst who admitted spying for Israel, argued on Tuesday his 1987 sentence of life in prison should be set aside because he received ineffective assistance of counsel.
Lawyer Jacques Semmelman asked U.S. District Chief Judge Thomas Hogan to reconsider a different judge's ruling in 2001 that denied a request to set aside the sentence, which Pollard, 49, is serving at a federal prison in North Carolina.
Pollard, wearing dark green prison garb and white yarmulke, sat at the defense table, never addressing the court during the 90-minute hearing. His wife and father were in the crowded courtroom, along with numerous supporters.
The judge took the request under advisement, along with a second request that the lawyers be given access to highly classified government documents from sentencing so they can more effectively pursue clemency for Pollard. It was not known when the judge would rule.
Pollard's lawyer argued he received ineffective assistance of counsel by his initial lawyer who represented him when he pleaded guilty and was sentenced, and then by his lawyer who represented him in his first appeal in the early 1990s.
"He asks only for justice and a fair sentencing," Semmelman said. "He has never had that," the lawyer added, asking the judge to "correct this miscarriage of justice."
Semmelman argued the lawyer's performance during and after sentencing had been "woefully deficient," in that he failed to file a notice of appeal and did not object to what Semmelman called breaches in the plea agreement.
He argued Pollard's lawyer in the first appeal also had been ineffective.
A government lawyer said the court does not have legal jurisdiction to reopen Pollard's claim, and that the request should be denied.
Pollard's other lawyer, Eliot Lauer, asked the judge to give them access to the classified documents, including a declaration by then-Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger filed by the government right before sentencing.
Lauer said the lawyers could better respond to the "innuendo" about the damage caused by Pollard's spying if they could see the declaration.
Pollard's initial lawyer had access to the declaration. Requests for access to it have been turned down by a federal judge in 1990, a U.S. appeals court in 1992 and twice by a federal judge in 2001.
Arrested in 1985 outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, Pollard was sentenced for passing classified U.S. information to Israel.