We are surprised and disappointed at Judge Hogan's rulings in the Jonathan Pollard case. (See First Ruling and Second Ruling).
Judge Hogan ruled that the motion to vacate Pollard's life sentence is barred by technical obstacles raised by the government. No court, including Judge Hogan's, has ever reached the merits of Pollard's motion, which documents that his life sentence was the direct result of ineffective assistance of counsel, in violation of his constitutional rights. Judge Hogan's ruling did not address the appropriateness of the life sentence, only Pollard's technical right to raise his constitutional challenge.
Judge Hogan also denied Pollard's security-cleared defense attorneys, Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman, access to the classified portions of the court's sentencing docket.
Both rulings of the district court will be subject to review by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The denial of access to the classified portions of Pollard's sentencing docket is appealable as-of-right. As for the ruling relating to the deprivation of Pollard's constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel, we will ask the Court of Appeals to issue a Certificate of Appealability so that they can review this ruling as well.
Today's rulings do not prevent Pollard from seeking executive clemency.
We are perplexed by the district court's reasoning. The sentencing issues in the Pollard case are too important to be dismissed on technicalities. We are disappointed that the U.S. government refuses to address the issues on their merits, and persists in hiding behind technicalities. It is imperative that Pollard's security-cleared defense counsel have access to his entire court sentencing docket.
In 1992, Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Williams called Pollard's life sentence "a fundamental miscarriage of justice requiring relief . . ." We look forward to bringing this case to the Court of Appeals so that it can finally right the injustice.
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