A federal judge is weighing a request by the assistant U.S. attorney representing the government to submit a classified, ex-parte submission to the court in the legal battle over Jonathan Pollard’s broad and unusually severe parole restrictions – one that Pollard’s attorneys will not be permitted to see and respond to.
In a letter to Judge Katherine B. Forrest of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Pollard’s lawyers expressed their strong opposition.
“The Government should not be permitted to justify substantial deprivations of Mr. Pollard’s liberty with ex parte submissions. Mr. Pollard’s attorneys have security clearances specifically issued by the Department of Justice in connection with their representation of Mr. Pollard. The Government articulates no basis to deny Mr. Pollard’s security-cleared attorneys access to the very materials the Government says it intends to use to justify the onerous Special Conditions.”
In their own letter to the judge, the prosecutors refer to Judge Forrest’s April 12th order instructing the government to respond to Pollard’s latest legal filings challenging the restrictions, in which she said that the government “may deem it appropriate to address whether information at issue remains “Secret” or “Top Secret,” and whether the government “should/must support their position on this motion with reference — in camera — to specific examples of “Secret” or “Top Secret” information deemed to be at risk.”
“In Camera” is a legal term for a hearing held in the judge’s chambers, and is closed to the public and the press.
However, there was no mention in the judge’s ruling of an “ex-parte,” or a filing that the other side would not be permitted access to.
A legal observer who has been following the Pollard case for many years and spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, told Hamodia that the government’s approach “indicates that the prosecutors are struggling to come up with a way to defend” the restrictions.
“There doesn’t seem to be any logical explanation for why Pollard is permitted to leave his apartment during the day, but is under house arrest from 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m., why he is permitted to freely walk the streets near his Manhattan apartment, but is prohibited from visiting nearby Brooklyn. There is no restrictions to whom he is permitted to speak to in person or by phone, but must wear a GPS bracelet and has a computer-monitoring requirement that prevents him from getting a job. So the prosecutors are trying an old-fashioned and very un-American tactic: filing secret claims that Pollard’s lawyers – who know the case better than anyone – can’t see and refute.”
The judge agreed to give the prosecutors more time to submit their public part of their response, but declined to give an immediate ruling regarding the ex-parte request.
The government has until June 10 to file its response, and Pollard’s lawyers have until June 30 to submit a rebuttal. Oral arguments are now scheduled for Friday, July 22.