Pollard Petitions DC Appeals Court for En Banc Hearing

For Immediate Release - September 2, 2005


101 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10178(212) 696-6000

September 2, 2005

Statement of Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman
Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP
Attorneys for Jonathan Pollard

Following the deeply disappointing July 22, 2005 divided ruling by the Court of Appeals in the Jonathan Pollard case, Mr. Pollard's American attorneys, Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman of Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP, have today filed a Petition for Rehearing En Banc. The petition asks all of the judges who sit on the District of Columbia Court of Appeals bench to review the divided ruling.

On July 22, 2005, a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals had denied Mr. Pollard's appeal from the rulings of the lower court. The lower court had (a) denied, purely on procedural grounds, Mr. Pollard's motion to vacate his life sentence; and (b) had refused to allow his security-cleared attorneys access to the classified portions of the court's sentencing docket. The ruling did not address the appropriateness of the life sentence.

Mr. Pollard's counsel has been seeking access to the classified court docket since they took on Mr. Pollard's representation pro bono in 2000. Although they have obtained the appropriate security clearances, the Government has refused to allow them to see the classified court docket. Counsel needs to see the docket in order to prepare and submit an effective application for executive clemency.

In a split aspect of the July 22, 2005 decision, two members of the three-judge Court of Appeals panel held that the courts have no jurisdiction to allow access to the court docket materials in this case. In a ten-page dissent, Judge Judith Rogers held that there plainly is such jurisdiction, as the Government had expressly conceded.

The en banc petition seeks to place the jurisdictional issue before the entire Circuit Court bench. It is Mr. Pollard's counsel's view that the dissent correctly analyzed the jurisdictional issue, and that en banc review is necessary and appropriate to correct the erroneous precedent set by the two-judge majority.

En banc review is discretionary with the members of the bench, and is not frequently granted.

In 1992, Judge Stephen Williams of the same Court of Appeals called Mr. Pollard's life sentence "a fundamental miscarriage of justice requiring relief . . ." Jonathan Pollard's attorneys will continue their quest for that relief within the U.S. legal system.

  • See Also: Legal Doc: Petition For En Banc Hearing (filed September 2, 2005)