Restrictions against Pollard are ‘vindictive and retaliatory,’ his lawyers claim


The strict parole restrictions placed on Jonathan Pollard are “vindictive and retaliatory,” his attorneys said in a brief filed with a U.S. federal court.

According to the brief filed Thursday with the District Court for the Southern District of New York, the U.S. Parole Commission failed to prove that Pollard continues to carry classified information in his head 31 years after he was jailed for passing classified documents to Israel while working as a civilian employee of the U.S. Navy.

A court filing on behalf of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in June said the U.S. intelligence community favors continued restrictions on Pollard, arguing he could still damage U.S. interests by revealing methods and identifying characteristics of U.S. assets.

The Parole Commission’s decision not to file any of its documents on a classified basis “also demonstrates that the only reason it imposed the onerous Special Conditions on Mr. Pollard is out of a vindictive and retaliatory motivation to punish Mr. Pollard for voicing his desire to live lawfully in Israel upon his release after 30 years in prison,” the Pollard brief reads. “Retaliation is not, however, a rational or lawful basis for special conditions of parole.”

The brief also addresses each of the special conditions and explains why they are not warranted.

Oral arguments on the case to remove the restrictive parole restrictions during Pollard’s five-year parole will be heard in U.S. District Court on July 22.

The conditions include wearing an electronic ankle bracelet with GPS tracking and surveillance of his and any employer’s computers. He also is confined to his New York home between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. — a condition, Pollard’s attorneys argue, that has precluded him from holding a job.

Pollard also is not permitted to join his wife, Esther, who he married while he was in prison, in Israel. He is restricted in his computer and internet use, which has prevented him from accepting a job offer to become a senior analyst at a financial firm, according to his attorneys.

Pollard was released from jail in November on mandatory parole after serving 30 years of a life sentence. He reportedly was a model prisoner.

‘Son of Sam’ denied parole for sixth time


David Berkowitz, the New York serial killer known as “Son of Sam,” was denied parole for a sixth time.

A New York prison parole board made the decision on Tuesday to deny Berkowitz, 58, who has spent 35 years behind bars. He will be eligible for another parole hearing in two years.

Berkowitz admitted to killing at least six people and injured others during a crime spree in 1976 and 1977 that terrorized New York City. He is serving a sentence of 25 years to life in the maximum security Sullivan Correctional Facility in New York State.

He has expressed remorse for the shootings and runs a prison ministry.

Berkowitz became a born-again Christian in 1987 and now calls himself “Son of Hope.” On a videotape message last week to a prayer breakfast in Virginia, he said God can forgive anyone, according to the Virginian-Pilot.

Dad Fights to Keep Child’s Killer in Jail


Armed with stacks of petitions and fueled by the anger and sadness he’s carried ever since his daughter, Robbyn Sue Panitch, was brutally murdered by a deranged, homeless man, 81-year-old Allan Panitch returned to Los Angeles recently to gather signatures for his campaign to block her killer’s parole.

“The pain is not so immediate,” said the Seattle resident. “But every time something triggers those memories, I start to hurt all over again. I just don’t think there’s any such thing as closure.”

These days, the trigger that re-ignites his grief is the thought that his daughter’s slayer, David Scott Smith, could soon be paroled as a result of hearings scheduled next week in San Luis Obispo. In February 1989, Robbyn Panitch, a 37-year-old psychiatric social worker, was stabbed 30-plus times by the psychotic Air Force veteran at her county Health Department office in Santa Monica.

The divorcee had been aware of Smith’s violent temper and had him committed for an evaluation. But L.A. County, facing heavy budget cutbacks in 1989, started closing facilities, and released Smith days before the attack.

Panitch was murdered at her desk, while talking on the phone to her fiancee, recounted her father.

“He heard the attack,” Panitch said of the fiancee. “He heard her shout, ‘No, David, no.’ And he heard her screams as Smith stabbed her. I can’t even imagine what he felt.”

At the time, the county’s mental health clinics had no meaningful security protocols. But after the murder, the county installed metal detectors and panic buttons and assigned guards. When Panitch was in Los Angeles handing out petitions to block the parole, he said he saw clinic security measures that would have saved his daughter.

Her former boss confided to him: “There would still be no security if your daughter had not been attacked.”

Smith pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, but was found competent to stand trial and convicted of murder in February 1991. His sentence was 26 years to life.

Panitch said he and his wife, who died in 2003, went to court every day during the two-month trial.

“I felt so angry,” he said. “I was just glad I didn’t have a weapon with me.”

The murder and subsequent trial generated a great deal of publicity. The family’s suffering escalated, when the parents started receiving anti-Semitic hate mail at their Palos Verdes home.

One piece featured a swastika superimposed over Robbyn’s face and a picture of Smith in uniform. Under his picture it read, “David Scott Smith is an American hero the Aryan race can be proud of.”

The hate campaign continued for more than a year, and the Panitches finally moved to Seattle. The FBI opened an investigation; Panitch bought a gun for protection.

Ironically, the Panitches may have moved closer to the perpetrators. The hate mail ended after a bloody shootout between the FBI and an Aryan gang in Washington sate.

Smith’s first parole hearing is scheduled for Aug. 25. He’s being held at the California Men’s Colony, a medium-security prison in San Luis Obispo. Under state law at the time of his conviction, Smith must serve at least two-thirds of his minimum 26-year sentence, making him eligible for release in 2006.

The L.A. County District Attorney’s Office will oppose the parole.

“I believe that based on his crime, which was a particularly vicious, heinous and bloody murder, this individual is far too dangerous to be allowed back into society,” said David Dahle, head deputy of the District Attorney’s Office Lifer Hearings Program.

Dahle added that Smith has been receiving medication and attention by psychologists, but “he is still a real threat to kill again.”

Dahle said the hearing process is likely to be lengthy, explaining, “It’s broken into two parts. First, they will review the crime and his criminal record, his personal history and they will probably question him about those issues.”

In addition, he said, the board will review Smith’s institutional record, reports by staff and a mental health evaluation.

“They will also want to know what kind of plan he has to live, work and continue therapy on the outside, should he be paroled,” Dahle said.

Panitch has forwarded his petitions to the parole board. He’s also ready to appear in person.

“I’m going to tell the board how her murder changed our lives,” Panitch said. “I still see Robbyn’s ghost everywhere.”