Judge Rejects Pollard Petition on Parole Restrictions

NEW YORK -
Jonathan Pollard
Jonathan Pollard

A federal judge, repeatedly referring to what she felt was the court’s limited authority to overrule a finding by the U.S. Parole Commission, rejected on Thursday a habeus corpus petition filed by Jonathan Pollard, seeking the removal of broad and severe parole restrictions.

In a lengthy written ruling, Judge Katherine B. Forrest of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, cited earlier court rulings stating that “Federal court review of parole commission decisions is extremely limited, because the commission has been granted broad discretion. …”

In court filing and oral arguments, Pollard attorney Eliot Lauer argued there is no rational basis for Pollard’s parole restrictions, which he said came from the Parole Commission’s vindictiveness against Pollard.

Pollard is currently required to wear a GPS monitoring system that consists of a non-removable transmitter installed on his wrist, and a receiver that is plugged into an outlet in his residence. Whenever he moves outside the range of the receiver, the transmitter — which is three inches long and two inches wide — acts as a GPS tracker and monitors his location. Were Pollard to step out of his tiny studio apartment to daven with a minyan or get some fresh air on Shabbos or Yom Tov, the battery would begin to drain, forcing him to choose between violating Shabbos or facing re-arrest.

“Pollard argues that the Parole Commission’s interpretation of the events … was ‘illogical’ and the result of ‘cynicism,’” Judge Forrest wrote, referring to the arguments regarding Pollard’s employment possibilities.

“But this argument is an invitation for the Court to replace the Commission’s credibility determination with its own, which is precisely what courts are directed not to do in evaluating habeas petitions like this one. The Court cannot conclude that the Commission’s interpretation of the evidence before it on this point was an irrational abuse of discretion,” the judge said.

Pollard has 10 days to file a notice of intent to appeal.