BREAKING NEWS: New Evidence Shows Judge Reade Unlawfully Presided Over Rubashkin Trial, Participated In Raid Planning

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12:28PM EST: New documents produced in response to a Freedom of Information Act request show that U.S. District Court Chief Judge Linda Reade met frequently with the law-enforcement team that was actively engaged in the planning of the May 2008 raid on the Agriprocessors kosher meatpacking plant and participated in preparations for the raid. On this account, Judge Reade should have been legally disqualified from presiding at the federal trial of Sholom Rubashkin.

Judge Reade was required to disclose these meetings and her participation to defense lawyers, but the judge did not make any such disclosures before presiding over the trial last year. The evidence shows Reade was not only provided with regular briefings on the raid preparations for more than six months before it occurred, but that she expressed her “support” for the raid, and directed that she be briefed on how it was to be carried out.

“The government’s own memoranda show that more than six months before the raid, Judge Linda Reade began a series of meetings in which she collaborated with the law-enforcement team that prosecuted the case against Sholom Rubashkin,” said Nathan Lewin, lead appellate counsel for Sholom Rubashkin. “Without disclosing to defense counsel her meetings with the U.S. attorney and the support she expressed for the raid, she presided at Mr. Rubashkin’s trial, and then immediately had him imprisoned, and sentenced him to two years more in prison than the prosecution requested.”

In light of the new revelations, attorneys for Sholom Rubashkin filed a motion for a new trial Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa. Rubashkin was sentenced in June 2010 to 27 years in prison for bank fraud and related charges. Prosecutors had sought a 25-year prison term.

“Under federal law, as authoritatively interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Reade was required to disqualify herself from serving as the judge in Mr. Rubashkin’s trial or, at least, to make a full disclosure to the defense lawyers so they could decide whether to file a motion for recusal,” Lewin said. “The jury’s verdict must, on this account, be vacated, as well as Judge Reade’s decision to deny release on bail to Mr. Rubashkin.”

The government documents and e-mails were provided to Rubashkin’s counsel after the trial concluded, although their Freedom of Information Act request was filed in February 2009, more than eight months before his trial began. The government did not initially respond to repeated letters and calls from Rubashkin’s counsel seeking the FOIA documents, and Rubashkin’s attorneys eventually sued the Department of Homeland Security to procure the information.

The documents reveal that Reade began meeting with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in October 2007, and advised law enforcement officials of her vacation schedule so that the raid would meet her “scheduling needs.” She also said in January 2008 she was “willing to support the operation in any way possible.” In March 2008, Reade participated in a meeting that discussed “an overview of charging strategies, numbers of anticipated arrests and prosecutions, logistics, the movement of detainees, and other issues related to the [Agriprocessors] investigation and operation.”

According to one e-mail, Reade made specific requests for a “final gameplan” to be submitted to her about one month before the raid took place. She also “requested a briefing on how the operation will be conducted.”

“What can be learned from the redacted memoranda about Judge Reade’s participation in the planning of the raid on Agriprocessors may be only the tip of the iceberg,” Lewin said. “But even this tip is sufficient for an objective observer to doubt the perception of impartiality.”

The documents also show Sholom Rubashkin was the primary focus of the investigation before the raid. In a PowerPoint presentation describing the planned raid – which may well have been displayed to Judge Reade during one of her “briefings” – ICE identified Mr. Rubashkin as the “Vice-President of the company,” and noted its belief “that one or more company officials may have knowledge of criminal conduct on the part of the company and may even be culpable themselves.”  In a separate memorandum written in advance of the raid, ICE explained that on the day of the raid, it would “execute a criminal arrest warrant” against a “corporate official.”  Mr. Rubashkin was not ultimately arrested on the day of the raid, but he is the only “corporate official” arrested, and therefore was probably the subject of that memorandum and discussions with Judge Reade. Under federal standards, those ex-parte conversations would be grounds for recusal of a judge.

Rather than disclosing her attendance at, and active participation in, planning meetings, either to the defendant or his attorneys, Reade rejected a related defendant’s recusal request and claimed she had only been engaged in “logistical cooperation” with Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents who planned the May 2008 raid on Agriprocessors.

“Judge Reade’s apparent attempts to minimize her participation in the raid raise new suspicions and bolster doubts about Judge Reade’s impartiality in circumstances that are particularly worrisome,” said Lewin. “Under federal law a judge is disqualified, whether or not actually biased, if the average person on the street, knowing all the facts, would question the judge’s impartiality.”

Representatives of the Department of Justice and ICE also concealed Judge Reade’s participation in the raid planning to members of Congress. In a hearing in July 2008 before the Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Zoe Lofgren asked law enforcement officials what information was provided to the federal court in Iowa and “what measures were taken to ensure that the court’s view of the cases would not be affected and that judicial neutrality would not be compromised?” Deborah J. Rhodes, a senior associate deputy attorney general, responded that Judge Reade was only given a “heads up” for “logistical reasons.” She did not acknowledge that Judge Reade was given briefings and “updates” on various substantive matters, as well as the fact that the raid was coordinated around Judge Reade’s “scheduling needs” and that Judge Reade had expressed her willingness “to support the operation in any way possible.”

As part of its motion for a new trial, Rubashkin’s attorneys have requested that Judge Reade transfer the motion to another judge for determination, “in order to preserve public confidence in the impartiality of the judicial system.”

Members of the Rubashkin legal team will participate in a media conference call this afternoon to discuss the new information. Details are forthcoming.

(YWN Desk – NYC)




51 COMMENTS

  1. And i thought this kind of stuff only happens in Beis Din.

    B”H, at least in the secular system, there’s a Freedom of Information Act and other options to allow the truth to be discovered and an appeals process to hold the judges accountable.

  2. BH BH BH!!!!!!!BH BH BH!!!!!!!BH BH BH!!!!!!!BH BH BH!!!!!!!BH BH BH!!!!!!!BH BH BH!!!!!!!BH BH BH!!!!!!!BH BH BH!!!!!!!BH BH BH!!!!!!!BH BH BH!!!!!!!BH BH BH!!!!!!!BH BH BH!!!!!!!BH BH BH!!!!!!!

  3. Let’s keep davening!
    Is this not clear proof that afilu cherev chado munachas al tzavoroi shel odom al yimna atzmo min horachamin…

  4. raboisai we all knew all along that this was an anti-semitic act now its just proven but lets not forget to keep on davening untill he is home cuz till he’s home he is not home right now he is still in jail with a 27 year sentence keep davening

  5. Boruch Hashem!!!!!!!!! Rubashkin’s legal team should see only Hatzlacha from now on!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    This beginging of the redemption should not stop by Rubashkin, It should end with the redemption for all of Klall Yisroel!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. @y2r says:
    kudos to you for your comment. I agree with you, a Yid should be ashamed to make a comment like that against a Beis Din – even if he doesn’t mention any specific B”D . It’s especially interesting that appears to have thought that the US justice system is better than b”d. I hope he no longer thinks that.

  7. Rabbosai – we seem to be looking at Cnasdei Hashem at work.
    “Tefilla oseh mechtze” – our Tefillos for Rubashkin are helping. Surely the huge sums of tzedaka given for this worthy cause, are helping too. Now, we have to daven for the other half – that he be freed on bail ASAP, and home for ROsh Hashana iy”H.
    Maybe Lewin & team can go after that Judge personally and give her a taste of her own medicine. Same for the prosecution team. Then the liberal disgusting media.
    The chodesh of rachamim is coming…

  8. #8 you can always move to china or how about saudi arabia or _____ ________ _______ .you fill in. plenty of ‘meciful etc etc countries

  9. If the reports about this judge turn out to be all true, the American judicial system that some of you disrespect so highly, and unddr which a great many people in foreign countries wish they could live, will sanction the judge and give Rubashkin a new trial.

  10. This is actually very bad news. That the lawyers are now attacking the process and not the conviction means that the merits are against Rubashkin. These types of motions almost always fail because the defense has a responsibility to bring these motions pre-trial. Judges regularly rule on subpoenas and warrants long before trial, this is very common. It is part of the process and Lewin’s comments are so taken out of context, along with his very poorly thought out Jewish Press article, that as a long time supporter I am seriously doubting the veracity of the defense.

  11. Smartcookie you ain’t. There’s a heckuva lot more corruption in most countries. That said, it should be interesting to see Reade’s reaction to this revelation.

  12. Just an additional comment to #16:
    Wouldn’t it be sweet justice to have Judge Reade disbarred,
    sent to prison without bail before her trial for criminal judicial misconduct and then sent away for 27 years. Kashaer Zomom! v’lo kashaer osoh. This episode is not over yet, so keep the tefilos and support coming.

  13. The just should be taken off the bench for this and the U.S. attorney general should declare a mistrial. What she did is unethical. Basically, she should be fired!!!!

  14. sounds about right. this big conspiracy cant be repaid to the jewish community. so it will pave the way for special rights in the judicial system that are required for repetitive systematic abuses that continually occur. we have the right to defend ourselves against unjust systematic persecution from simple bigots that control localized governments.

  15. May H’KBH grant Mr. Lewin and all his team to be matzliach in all that they do for Reb Sholem Mordechai ben Rivka!!! Please all yidden everywhere we are benching Rosh Chodesh Elul this coming Shabbos I’YH, and we should all continue to daven that R’Sholom Mordechai is freed quickly to his wonderful family and that Judge Reade should be in prison and stripped of her title.
    Besuros tovos to all Klall Yisrael!!!

  16. Re kishmich (#20)

    We have allegations of judicial, and probably prosecutorial, misconduct derived from newly released records, evidence unavailable to the defense until now; the misconduct, it is alleged, is exacerbated by misleading comments by both judge and prosecution during the time the trial was proceedings. In that context, I don’t understand the point of your comment about rulings on subpoenas and warrants.

    Also, any competent defense counsel would use the alleged facts to go full guns for a new trial…doing so does not in any way reflect on the merits of the underlying criminal case.

    And lastly, this IS an attack on the conviction…if a defense motion is successful the conviction will be tossed out and a new trial ordered.

  17. kishmich – I am not a lawyer but this is more then just ruling on a subpeona. It seems like she was involved from the beginning to really get Reb Shlomo.

  18. “The just should be taken off the bench for this and the U.S. attorney general should declare a mistrial. What she did is unethical. Basically, she should be fired!!!!”

    Unfortunately you are wrong, this is not a critical comment, just as someone aware of the process, what the judge did is how the system works. This is not a new revelation, Lewin and Cook always were aware of the judge’s role in signing warrants, etc… think about it, why didn’t they bring this motion before the trial? The same public records available now were available then. Unfortunately this is a clear sign that the actual conviction may in fact stand.

  19. She knowingly mislead the court. I hope he is release on bond immediately but it is more than this. She destroyed a community of Jews and immigrants.He should win and sue for the default of the loans of meat packing company. She was responsible for the down fall of the company, and she continue to call harm to Rubashkin. He must sue her personally and attach all of her assets and tie her in knots like she did to him, his family and the whole community.Either she is a big big antisemities,very pro union or a peta freak.Lets all daven for him

  20. Kismich (#30) – According to the news accounts, your comment that “…[t]he same public records available now were available then…” is simply incorrect. They were released post-trial pursuant to a FOIA request; “…The government documents and e-mails were provided to Rubashkin’s counsel after the trial concluded, although their Freedom of Information Act request was filed in February 2009…”

    Furthermore, your comment “…unfortunately this is a clear sign that the actual conviction may in fact stand…” makes no sense legally. See my comment #28

  21. HaLeiVi (#31) – Only if the there was gross prosecutorial misconduct that put a serious taint on the merits of the government’s case – evidence supporting acquittal being suppressed, tampering with witnessses, knowingly presenting perjured or otherwise tainted evidence – things like that

  22. “Lewin and Cook always were aware of the judge’s role in signing warrants”

    Lewin was not the lawyer – but what makes you think they new she was signing warrants?

  23. The documents actually show that the judge was involved with the logistics of bringing hundreds of people into court and facing arraignment, nothing substantial and no indication she knew anything other than hundreds of people were going to be arraigned. Read the FOIA releases online. She is the chief district judge. It was her job to agree to holding the hearings offsite, make sure space was leased, staff was available, com lines installed, and all the cases fit into the calendar. If I’m wrong so be it but clearly the defense is going to show this in the best light possible and presuming on the merits there is an issue here I have stopped believing this hook line and sinker. That the judge was involved in logistics is nothing like what Lewin is going to portray which is that she was involved in some conspiracy. Enough is enough.

  24. HEre is just one example, Lewin says that the judge said she is “willing to support the operating in any way possible.”

    But Lewin left off the end of the sentence “to include staffing and scheduling”. He is making it seem like this is a direct quote from judge Reade when it is a memo from ICE about the raid that mentions the court’s stance.

    The entire sentence actually reads, “The court made it clear that they are willing to support the operating in any way possible, to include staffing and scheduling.”

    So Lewin has misrepresented this entire segment.

  25. There’s an interesting blog in the Des Moines Register that says that the prosecutors got an award from the Secretary of Agriculture “for their work on the Packers and Stockyards violations.” That’s the old law under which no one had ever been prosecuted before. If this case is thrown out because of judicial or prosecutorial misconduct, it’ll be a huge embarrassment to the administration.

    Here’s a link: http://tinyurl.com/33u6tdm

  26. YonasonW, you seem to have legal expertise, can’t they at least sue for recovery of legal expenses, since if the judge and prosecutor had disclosed information they were seemingly required to disclose the trial would have proceeded in a very different direction, and they would have avoided a lot of expenses?

  27. The 2 provisions in the appeal that seem to warrant at least a hearing into the judges impartiality are:

    The courts have ruled that if a reasonable person would feel the judge is biased (actual bias is not a factor) it is grounds for recusal (the judge to remove him/herself from the case)

    The judge seems to have gone out of her way to hide pretrial meetings with ICE officials, indeed ensuring the raid did not coincide with her traveling.

    In reading the appeal I think they made a stronger argument for hearings into the pretrial meetings than an outright dismissal.

  28. kishmich is correct, she was doing her job as chief judge.

    And in any case these kinds of procedural arguments almost never result in reversals of conviction thanks to our Lock ‘Em Up And Throw Away The Key federal judiciary. Mark Levin will disagree, but we need federal judges who care about the rights of everyone, including criminal defendents, and don’t automatically give everyone the maximum sentence. Hopefully new Justice Kagan will help knock some sense into the system.

  29. #1 you are correct all to often b”d are involved in the “investigations” and act as judge prosecutor and jury without giving the other side even a chance and when you open your mouth to complain your the one getting in trouble
    Talk about corruption lets look in our own b”d first

  30. I’m not sure about “the government”, but one can certainly sue an overzealous prosecutor who oversteps the legal bounds or an judge who does the same. If I’m not mistaken, in the famous “Duke Lacrosse Players” case, the players went after the prosecutor after it was found that he acted improperly.

    While I wish the entire case is thrown out, and a new trial in front of a new judge in a new jurisdiction is held, a part of me actually wants a hearing into the matter held where the jude and her actions are held under a microscope and subject to questioning, unfortunately, in such a process R’ Sholom would likely remain in jail.

  31. To #18
    I live on this “Planet!” (G-d’s Planet)
    Didn’t you learn that a Yid may NOT go to a Goiyish court because it may appear that their laws & justice system are more superior to the torah’s? (It applies even in a case where you don’t believe that to be the case. )
    Kal V’Chomer, to openly come out and say/suggest that their court is superior or even the same as ours (Especially in a public place) is wrong & a big chillul hashem!!!!!!!! Shame on You!!!!!

    I suggest go back to law school (Torah law school that is)

  32. I’ve read the entire thread. There are some great questions and some foolish assumptions… assumptions that in the end will make you more upset than most of us already are, but only because you were running down the wrong path to begin with.

    1. whereas, Judge’s are active in warrants etc, it would seem that Judge Reade acted within duties as the Chief Judge of that Court. And remember its a one horse court, not like those in NYC for example where there are 100’s of Judges.

    2. having said that, from the article, it would seem that Judge Reade overstepped her bounds, thus making it an appeal-able issue.

    3. But then one of the posters did us a favor and read the entire sentence, something Attorney Lewin failed to do… that disturbs me more than the possibility that Judge Reade erred in her discretion.

    All Lewin did was stir all of us up by way of not sharing all the pertinent information.

    We are saddened by all that has happened, there seems to me to be parts of the overall that were out of line… However, “our team” must not join them in lying, manipulating, creating issues they know do not exist, in an attempt to gather public support. Emis sets Rubashkin free, nothing less.

    I have extensive experience with goyisha attorney’s… the basic premise is, if your client is obviously innocent, then you base your arguments on their innocence. However, if your client’s hands are not clean… this does not make them guilty, but it suggests improprieties, then you begin by making arguments of law and if your client is guilty, you scream racism, argue the case in the newspapers, hoping that the public likes your client, thus supports them no matter the truth.

    To me it seems as though Judge Reade could have used better discretion. Meaning, she was intimately involved in the process leading to the raid and arrest and even though it was not a violation of law, she had a duty to recuse herself because a normal person would see her duties to have created an prejudice.

    And the issue of the Judge recusing herself… that Motion was filed, heard and answered… the problem I see is, that Rubashkin was not party to that Motion, therefore, Rubashkin has no legal standing in an appeal on that issue.

    May Rubashkin and all other Yiddin who are being unfairly held in prisons around the world be released posthaste.