New Legal Brief for Jonathan Pollard Filed Today

Media Release - September 14, 2004

NEW YORK - Jonathan Pollard's pro bono attorneys, Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman of Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP, 101 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10178, have filed a brief on Mr. Pollard's behalf in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, in connection with the appeal of their motion to vacate Mr. Pollard's life sentence based upon ineffective assistance of counsel, and their motion to gain access to the classified portions of Mr. Pollard's court docket.

Mr. Pollard is in his nineteenth year of a sentence of life in prison for delivering classified information to the State of Israel. Mr. Pollard was arrested November 21, 1985, and has been incarcerated since. He pleaded guilty in 1986 to conspiracy to commit espionage. His sentence was imposed March 4, 1987.

In 2000, Messrs. Lauer and Semmelman took on Mr. Pollard's pro bono representation and filed a Motion for Resentencing in the United States District Court, on the ground that Mr. Pollard's sentencing counsel was ineffective, in violation of Mr. Pollard's constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel. Mr. Pollard's sentencing attorney had failed to perform even the most basic tasks, such as objecting when the Government breached its written plea agreement not to ask for a life sentence, and did not even file a one-page Notice of Appeal from the life sentence, which would have preserved the right to direct appellate review of the sentence and the Government misconduct that led to it.

The Government offered no response on the merits to the Motion for Resentencing, but successfully opposed the Motion on the ground that the statute of limitations had expired. Messrs. Lauer and Semmelman asked the Court of Appeals to grant discretionary appellate review of the statute of limitations issue.

In addition, in 2000 Mr. Pollard's attorneys had sought access to approximately 40 pages of materials submitted to the Court before sentencing. They needed to see these materials in order to be able to submit an effective application for executive clemency with full knowledge of their client's Court record. The District Court denied access, finding that Mr. Pollard's attorneys have no "need-to-know" the contents of their client's Court record. Counsel appealed that determination.

On June 7, 2004, the Court of Appeals consolidated both issues for appeal and effectively granted discretionary review of the statute of limitations issue.

The brief filed September 14, 2004 addresses both issues: (1) whether the Government is entitled to invoke the statute of limitations as a bar to Mr. Pollard's Motion for Resentencing, despite evidence that the Government had lied in writing about sentencing counsel's performance, thereby misleading the Court and misleading Mr. Pollard into not bringing a claim for ineffective assistance earlier, and (2) whether Mr. Pollard's attorneys have a "need-to-know" the contents of their client's Court record to make an effective clemency application, where the evidence shows that Government personnel have repeatedly accessed that very same Court record for the purpose of opposing executive clemency.

Oral argument has been scheduled for January 13, 2005 before a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals at the United States Courthouse in Washington, D.C.

See Also: