By Marvin Greisman
The Jewish Press
January 10, 2003
Two Orthodox lawyers, Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman of Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP, are vowing to bring justice to the case of Jonathan Pollard. Pollard is currently serviing his seventeenth year in prison for “conspiracy to deliever classified information to the State of Israel.”
In 1987, Pollard was sentenced to the maximum penalty of “life in prison”. Both Lauer and Semmelman, who in 2000 took on the pro bono prepresentation of Pollard, spoke on the topic of “Current Legal Initiatives for Jonathan Pollard” last week at a pack meeting sponsored by the Yeshiva College Alumni Associaiation at YU’s Stern College.
The two lawyers filed with habeas corpus motion in Federal District Court in Washington D.C., seeking a new sentencing hearing on the grounds that Richard Hibey, Pollard’s original attorney, appeared to not have been aware that Pollard had the constitutional right to appeal his unjust sentence. “He (Pollard) is in jail because of the way he was represented in court,” Semmelman told the Y.U. audience.
Semmelman argued that, “if Pollard is forced to spend the rest of his life in jail, it’s going to be because he missed the statute of limitations…. The new court papers filed on behalf of Pollard are based upon recent revelations, fully documented in the court papers, that 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 eneffective assistance of counsel.”
Semmelman stated that the Jewish community, which is strongly supportive of commuting Pollard’s unjust sentence, should know that he remains in prison today “not because of what he did, but because a statute of limitations ran out in 1997 and we (the two lawyers) didn’t come along until 2000.” The Orthodox lawyers stressed the sad fact that “it would certainly be tragic if a person had to spend the rest of his life in jail because he missed the statute of limitations.”
Continuing to show his strong displeasure with the government’s action against his client, Semmelman said, “Yes, that is the position of our great United States government has taken in this case.”