Pollard And The Law

Hyman Dechter, Esq. - The Forward (NY) - June 17, 1988

This article was prompted by a letter by Carol Pollard, sister of Jonathan Pollard, which recently appeared in the New York Jewish Press. Ms. Pollard writes that it is her understanding that there is "little hope for the Pollards in Court." I disagree with those who are advising her and state that, based on information and belief, there are some areas of law utilized by the United States which are contrary to fundamental jurisprudence and due process. These areas can be challenged successfully, if pursued. It is my belief that much can be done in the courts, as well as in the marketplace of ideas.

First and foremost, by any standards Jonathan Pollard is a Jewish patriot unequaled in his devotion and commitment to Eretz Yisrael. The unbelievable and unbearable pressure put on the Pollards by the U.S. Government in this affair is outrageous and is worthy of a fascist or totalitarian state such as Russia, Chile or North Vietnam. Due to the shocking mistreatment and illegal activities at the Highest levels of their government, this case rates in a category of a Dreyfus case, or even those ignoble communists, the Rosenbergs. Jonathan Pollard did not participate in espionage against the U.S. for the benefit of any enemy, Russia. Simply stated, he illegally passed on to Israel intelligence documents essential to Israel's security which he recognized were being withheld in violation of American policy, and which the U.S. was obligated in the first place to freely give to Israel.

For starters, it is axiomatic and primary that no one, again no one, can be pressured or forced by trickery, deceit, false promises, broken agreements or artifice into taking a forced plea in a criminal case. It does not matter if the charge is disorderly conduct, or conspiracy to deliver defense information to a foreign government (Israel). This could not happen in any court in Brooklyn and no judge or Assistant District Attorney would even try to get away with such illegal tactics. Based on what I already know, it sounds more like Anne and Jonathan Pollard were grilled by KGB agents in the gulag, rather than by FBI agents in an American court or prison. There is an ugliness here of wide misconduct and anti-Semitism, led by ex-Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, and the overly ambitious US Attorney in the case, Joseph DiGenova.

What is most startling and telling is that in cases where vital U.S. military secrets were passed to Russia by such as John Walker, Thomas Cavannaugh and Ronald Pelton, their sentences were nowhere as severe. And unlike Anne Pollard, the wives of these Russian spies, who actively helped their husbands in getting these sensitive materials to Russia, shockingly were not even arrested. The terrible injustice meted out to Anne Pollard is blatant on its face, and in my opinion based on anti-Semitism.

I personally know and admire a Brooklyn Supreme Court Judge who in my presence rebuked and castigated a young Assistant District Attorney who slightly took privileges against a defendant in trying to force a plea. The judge was livid with rage and, on the record, stated his feelings and the illegality of the attempt. Using this case as a small example, multiply it a hundred times and you will understand how the Government forced the Pollards to plea.

In addition to the unheard of coercion in this case, there is the misleading of defendants by those who must come into Court with "clean hands;" the harshness and brutality heaped upon the dangerously sick Anne Pollard; the Constitutional violations of elementary justice, and the continued violations of the 8th., amendment to the U.S. Constitution which protects against "cruel and inhumane treatment;" the unheard of severity of a sentencing second to death against Jonathan Pollard, and the inconsistence of sentences for similar crimes in similar cases 18USC 3553 (n). And this is just the tip of the iceberg. If these were the only violations, they would more than adequately meet the criteria for both reversal, and a review on the full case.

What must be kept in mind is that Jonathan Pollard was not charged with or convicted of treason, the aiding of an enemy of the United States. The Grand Jury in the case never charged him with passing the names of US agents or intelligence operations overseas, or of disclosing US fighting plans. His sole desire as a Zionist was to give limited information absolutely essential to Israel's survival, information Israel was entitled to in the first place.

The government lied to and misled the Pollards into believing that if they cooperated, their sentences would be greatly reduced, or more. Under the terms of the plea bargain the Pollards did give the US a great deal of information, and the names of high ranking Israelis who were involved. And yet the prejudiced judge saw fit to totally ignore their cooperation in his sentencing.

The above is an overview of some of the facts of the case. Much more could be said. I have only tried with what I know to give a picture of the terrible actions by the U.S. Government against a Jew who was desperately trying to save Israel. And against his innocent wife. As an experienced criminal trial lawyer, I believe that much more could and should be done in Court. As a veteran activist Jew, I feel it is incumbent on every Jew to help the Pollards. Their plight is a warning to us all.

Hyman Dechter is a criminal lawyer from New York City. Over the past 25 years he has been an active legal advocate for civil rights and Jewish rights cases.