Court of Appeals Allows Pollard to Continue Appeal - Media Release


101 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10178
Eliot Lauer, (212) 696-6192
Jacques Semmelman, (212) 696-6067


Jim Haggerty, (212) 683-8100, ext. 224
Paul Tarr, (212) 683-8100, ext. 270


U.S. Court of Appeals Will Allow Jonathan Pollard's Lawyers to Argue Appeal of Lower Court's Refusal to Reopen Case

Appeals court orders review of recent 2003 district court decisions in consolidated appeal; first serious look by a higher court at circumstances that led to Pollard's life sentence.

NEW YORK, NY (June 10, 2004) - A U.S. Court of Appeals panel in Washington, DC, has ruled that attorneys for convicted spy Jonathan Pollard can argue the merits of Pollard's case before the appellate court.

In a brief order issued on June 7, 2004, a two-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit ruled that Mr. Pollard's attorneys, Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman of Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP, may proceed to brief and argue the two appeals they have filed with the Court.

"This is a major advance in Jonathan Pollard's quest for justice," said Eliot Lauer, attorney for Jonathan Pollard. "After 18 years in prison, the U.S. Court of Appeals is now committed to taking a serious look at the circumstances that led to Pollard's life sentence. It is apparent that the Court of Appeals believes we have raised serious issues that warrant further judicial scrutiny."

Both appeals are from separate November, 2003 rulings of the U.S. District Court in Washington, DC. One appeal is from a denial of Mr. Pollard's motion to vacate his life sentence on the grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel. The lower court denied the motion on procedural grounds, without reaching the merits. The appeal from that order is by permission of the court, which now has effectively been granted by the Court of Appeals.

The other appeal is from the lower court's order denying Mr. Pollard's attorneys, both of whom have security clearance, access to classified portions of the court's sentencing docket. This appeal was as-of-right and has been consolidated into a combined review of the case.

It is expected that a schedule for briefing and oral argument will be handed down shortly.

Background on the Jonathan Pollard Case

In 1987, Jonathan Pollard pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to commit espionage. Despite agreeing to a plea bargain and cooperating with the U.S. government, on March 4, 1987, Pollard received the maximum sentence: life imprisonment. The U.S. government's aggressive pursuit of the maximum sentence was in direct violation of its plea agreement with Pollard, but the material breach went unchallenged by Pollard's original attorney-who failed to object or even to file a one-page notice of appeal from the constitutionally defective sentence, thereby precluding appellate review.

In addition, the U.S. government has blocked Pollard's new security-cleared attorneys from viewing Pollard's court sentencing file docket, making repeated false statements to the court regarding the attorneys' security clearance and "need to know." No one representing Pollard has seen the file since March 4, 1987, the day he was sentenced.

In September, 2003, Jonathan Pollard appeared in public for the first time in 16 years to attend a rehearing of two 2001 rulings denying his motions for resentencing, and to allow his attorneys access to his complete sentencing file.

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