Distinguished Individuals, Legal Organizations File Amicus Brief for Pollard

Media Release - October 6, 2004


- 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 by 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.

The amicus curiae brief urges the Court to grant Mr. Pollard's counsel access to the classified portions of Mr. Pollard's Court docket.

Mr. Pollard completes his nineteenth year of a sentence of life in prison next month for delivering classified information to the State of Israel. His sentence of life is unprecedented and disproportionate when compared with all those who have committed similar offenses in the US. It is also harsher than most of the sentences received by those who committed far more serious offenses by spying for enemies of the US. 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 Mr. Pollard's attorneys, who have "Top Secret" security clearance, had sought access to approximately 40 pages of classified material submitted to the Court before sentencing and placed under seal. They needed to see this material 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, and filed their brief with the Court of Appeals on September 14, 2004.

The amicus curiae brief, which strongly endorses counsel's right to have access to the docket materials, was prepared by the law firm of Morrison & Foerster LLP on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union of the National Capital Area (ACLU), joined by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), the American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists (AAJLJ), and fourteen prominent law professors and other distinguished individuals, including Congressman Anthony D. Weiner (D-N.Y.), former Congressman Robert Drinan (now a law professor at Georgetown University), former New York State Attorney General Robert Abrams, former United States District Judge George N. Leighton, and Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, former President of Notre Dame University.

The ACLU, founded in 1920, is dedicated to protecting the principles embodied in the Bill of Rights.

The NACDL is the preeminent organization in the United States advancing the mission of the nation's criminal defense lawyers to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime. Founded in 1958, the NACDL has more than 11,000 members and 28,000 affiliates.

The AAJLJ is the leading professional organization in the United States for Jewish lawyers, judges, and law professors. The AAJLJ represents the American Jewish legal community in seeking to defend Jewish interests and human rights in the United States and abroad. It is affiliated with the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, founded in 1969.

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:
  • Pollard's Lawyers File Brief Challenging Life Sentence - A Must-Read! - Joanne Palmer
  • Legal Doc: Brief for Jonathan Pollard to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
  • The Court Case Page
  • Legal Doc: Amicus Brief in Support of Jonathan Pollard's Legal Brief in Appellate Court