Appeals Court to Hear Pollard Oral Arguments

Justice4JP Release - March 11, 2005

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will hear oral arguments in Jonathan Pollard's case on Tuesday, March 15, 2005.

A U.S. federal appeals court will hear oral arguments on motions to overturn Jonathan Pollard's sentence and to grant his attorneys access to their client's file. These motions were previously dismissed by the District Court on technicality, not substance. The merits of the case have never before been heard. Pollard attorneys appealed the District Court's rejection of the motions; the Appeals Court agreed to hear the merits.

Pollard's pro bono attorneys Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman of Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP, 101 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10178 will be presenting oral arguments on two separate motions next Tuesday.

Firstly, the attorneys will be asking the Court to allow them access to the classified portions of Pollard's own sentencing docket - access which has until now only been permitted to opponents of clemency for Pollard. Since Pollard was sentenced in 1987 none of his security-cleared attorneys has been permitted to access the classified portions of his sentencing docket to challenge the false allegations and misinformation that was used to sentence him to life.

A roster of distinguished individuals and legal organizations - including the ACLU, the NACDL and the AAJLJ - have submitted an amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in support of the appeal filed on behalf of Jonathan Pollard by Lauer and Semmelman. The amicus curiae brief urges the Court to grant Mr. Pollard's counsel access to the classified portions of Mr. Pollard's Court docket.

Secondly, Lauer and Semmelman will be asking the Court to grant Mr. Pollard an evidentiary hearing in support of his claim of ineffective counsel which resulted in the disproportionate and unjust sentence of life which he is serving. Pollard is in his 20th year of a life sentence for passing classified information to Israel. He is the only person in the history of the U.S. to receive a life sentence for espionage on behalf of an ally. The median sentence for this offense is 2 to 4 years.

An evidentiary hearing would allow the truth about Jonathan Pollard's sentence to finally be heard in a court of law. It would permit his attorneys to demonstrate for the first time that Pollard suffered enormous prejudice as a result of his original attorney's deficient performance; damage which was exacerbated by the attorney who then took over the case. As a result Pollard was deprived of the benefits of his Plea Agreement, sentenced to life in prison without evidentiary hearing on the basis of rebuttable allegations of harm, and then deprived of a direct appeal from the sentence.

Jonathan Pollard will not be attending the oral arguments. His wife, Esther, will attend. She will be accompanied by Pollard's American rabbi, Rabbi Pesach Lerner.

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