Archive: Recommended Letter to Send to Officials by Pollard's Attorneys

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20500

Re: United States v. Jonathan Pollard

Dear Mr. President:

I am writing with regard to Jonathan Pollard, now serving his twenty-fourth year in prison. He was arrested in 1985 and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to deliver classified information to the State of Israel. On March 4, 1987, he was sentenced to the maximum penalty, life in prison.

In September 2000, Mr. Pollard's new attorneys Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman of Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP filed a motion for resentencing in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.. Their motion was based upon their discovery, fully documented in their court papers, that Mr. Pollard's original defense lawyer was grossly ineffective before, during and immediately after sentencing. Mr. Pollard's life sentence was the direct result of deprivations of his constitutional rights to due process and effective assistance of counsel.

The Government's sole response to the motion was that Mr. Pollard waited too long, so that the statute of limitations barred relief. The court agreed, and denied the petition on that ground. As a result, if Mr. Pollard must spend the rest of his life in prison, it will be because he should have realized earlier that he has a meritorious basis for vacating his sentence on constitutional grounds. I am distressed that our Government has taken this position, which is incompatible with any notion of justice. As President, you have the power, through executive clemency, to remedy this injustice. We strongly urge you to grant Mr. Pollard executive clemency.

As a separate matter, there are five partially-classified documents in the court's sentencing docket that no one representing Mr. Pollard has been permitted to see since he was sentenced. The publicly-available court records indicate that these sealed materials contain projections, prepared by then-Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger and submitted to the sentencing judge, of possible harm that might arise as a result of Mr. Pollard's conduct. The specific projections were marked classified and were placed under seal. There is reason to believe that many, if not most, of the projections have never come to pass. The passage of over twenty years' time has likely demonstrated conclusively that the anticipated harm to the United States has not materialized and never will. Mr. Pollard's new attorneys believe they can fashion a compelling application for executive clemency on the ground that the projections of harm that motivated the life sentence in 1987 have not come to pass, and that executive clemency is appropriate to remedy the injustice in continuing to require Mr. Pollard to serve the life sentence that was premised, in large measure, on those projections. In order to prepare such a clemency application, Mr. Pollard's attorneys need to gain access to the sealed pre-sentencing docket materials filed with the court.

After a thorough background investigation, Messrs. Lauer and Semmelman were each granted "Top Secret" security clearance by the U.S. Department of Justice. They were determined eligible for the even higher "SCI" clearance upon showing "need to know." They have thus been accorded the security clearance needed to see the sealed docket materials in the Pollard court docket. However, the Government has taken the disingenuous position that Mr. Pollard's lawyers have no "need to know" what is in their client's court docket, and have refused access. Yet, Government personnel opposed to executive relief for Mr. Pollard have repeatedly been afforded access to these very documents, based upon the Government's unilateral, extra-judicial assessment that its own employees have a "need to know." Messrs. Lauer and Semmelman asked the court to allow them access to the docket materials so that they could prepare an effective clemency petition with full knowledge of the court record, including Mr. Weinberger's projections of harm. The court ruled that it did not have jurisdiction to allow access because the doctrine of separation of powers prohibits a court from allowing access to its own docket if the purpose of the access is to seek executive clemency. By refusing jurisdiction, the court placed responsibility for the decision on your shoulders, Mr. President. The disparity in access to the court docket materials is unacceptable. Mr. Pollard's attorneys should be afforded this most basic right. We strongly urge you to direct the Attorney General that justice mandates allowing Mr. Pollard's security-cleared attorneys to have access to the court docket materials.


cc: Eliot Lauer (
Jacques Semmelman (
Fax: (212) 697-1559