Judge denies new trial for slaughterhouse manager

AP News
Posted: Oct 27, 2010 8:23 PM
Judge denies new trial for slaughterhouse manager

A judge on Wednesday denied a request for a new trial for a former Iowa kosher slaughterhouse executive convicted of finacial fraud after an immigration raid at the plant.

Sholom Rubashkin's attorney claimed Rubashkin should get a new trial because Chief U.S. District Court Judge Linda Reade, who presided over the original one, participated in the planning of the 2008 raid at the Agriprocessors Inc. plant in Postville, Iowa.

Reade ruled that Rubashkin's attorneys failed to show that the new evidence they obtained would have affected the trial's outcome or that she should have recused herself.

Rubashkin was convicted on 86 federal financial fraud charges last year and was sentenced in June to 27 years in prison.

Rubashkin's attorney argued evidence obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit showed Reade met with investigators and prosecutors and discussed charging strategies, numbers of anticipated arrests, logistics and other issues related to the investigation. The defense claimed Reade could not have been impartial at trial.

In her ruling, Reade wrote that Rubashkin and his attorneys could have sought her recusal before trial but didn't. She also said the new evidence Rubashkin's attorneys claimed to have has "no bearing on any of the issues raised at trial."

Reade also said her recusal was not required because she was doing the duties she was required to do as chief judge to ensure court proceedings were efficient and that the constitutional rights of the defendants were protected.

"Futhermore, an average person on the street would not question ... impartiality in this case," she wrote.

Rubashkin's attorney, Nathan Lewin, told The Associated Press that Reade refuses to admit she did anything wrong. He also noted Reade issued her ruling without holding a hearing.

"For a judge to brush it all away and say it's not even worth a hearing when there is clear conflict is nothing short of outrageous," Lewin said.

He said he would appeal.

"The law is clear that what she did was wrong," Lewin said.

The Postville plant gained attention after the raid, in which 389 illegal immigrants were detained. At the time, it was the largest single-site immigration raid in U.S. history. The plant eventually filed for bankruptcy and was later sold.

Rubashkin also faced 72 charges for allegedly allowing illegal immigrants to work at the plant, but Reade dismissed those charges. A jury also later acquitted him of state child labor charges.