State Department officials submitted to the Soviet Embassy in Washington last week a legal petition written by a third-year student at the Law School seeking the reversal of the criminal conviction of Soviet Jewish dissident Ida Nudel.
Four members of the Harvard Jewish Law Students' Association assisted Donna E. Artz, the petition's author, with the research. Four attorneys from the Greater Boston Lawyers Committee for Soviet Jewry, including Alan M. Dershowitz, professor of Law, provided technical advice, Artz said.
"This is probably the first time that most of the work for one of these briefs was done by law students. It's first-rate piece of work," Dershowitz, the American attorney for Anatole Scharansky and other Soviet dissidents, said yesterday.
A Soviet People's Court convicted Nudel and Vladimir Slepak last June of one count each of "malicious hooliganism" for hanging posters demanding permission to emigrate to Israel in the windows of their Moscow apartments. Nudel is known as the "guardian angel" of Soviet Jewish dissidents for her help to prisoners in Soviet labor camps, Artz said.
The brief seeks to prove that Nudel did not commit a crime under Soviet law, "but we expect the Soviet will be more affected by political considerations than the legal merits of our argument," Artz said. Rep. Robert F. Drinan (D-Mass.) and Rep. Patricia S. Schroeder (D.-Col.) signed the petition at Artz's request because the Soviets will pay more attention to congressmen," she said.
"This brief makes an impressive case that Ida Nudel could not have been guilty of 'malicious hooliganism' under Soviet law," Drinan, who is also a lawyer, said yesterday.
If the Soviets do not respond to her petition, Ida Nudel will serve out the remaining three and a half years of her four-year sentence of exile in the Siberian village of Krivosheyino, where she lives in a house with 30 men convicted of non-political crimes, Artz said. "It's a world we can't even imagine," she added.