Equal and Fair Justice for Sholom Rubashkin

Hamodia Editorial

Justice Has Yet
To Make an

JUNE 22, 2010

The picture on the front page of
Hamodia two weeks ago said it all
— Sholom Rubashkin smilingly
hugging his lawyer under the banner
headline, “Sholom Rubashkin
Acquitted,” after his acquittal in
the child labor trial — and evoked
hopes he would still be acquitted
on the federal bank fraud charges
as well.
Yesterday we found out that we
may have some time before we can
report some good news in this case.
After a delay of two months and then some, U.S. District Court Judge Linda
R. Reade yesterday surprised the Orthodox
Jewish world by announcing ahead of time
her intention to sentence Mr. Rubashkin
today to 27 years in prison — which is
essentially a life sentence for the 51-yearold
father of ten.
The recent spate of asifos organized to
call attention to Ms. Reade’s intentions —
appropriately bannered “Gevald und
Geshrigen” — has drawn tens of thousands
of people who are outraged at what they
consider an overzealous prosecution taking
advantage of Ms. Reade’s conflict of interest
to get Mr. Rubashkin an outsized sentence.
That outrage has now been given a number:
When Mr. Rubashkin was acquitted in
state court last month, a source close to the
defense told Hamodia that they were worried
the exoneration might prove to be devastating
for Mr. Rubashkin in the federal
The source stated that with the dismissal
of immigration charges late last
year, and now with the jury’s finding that
Mr. Rubashkin was not guilty on all child
labor charges, all charges arising from the
federal immigration raid on May 12, 2008,
have been rendered moot.
A judge signed off on the raid that
brought tens of black SUVs, hundreds of
gun-toting ICE agents and army helicopters
circling over the sleepy town of
Postville; it seems that the judge had badly
It turns out that it was Ms. Reade herself
who provided the government with the
legal imprimatur it needed to conduct the
raid that shut Agriprocessors for weeks.
The closure caused the kosher slaughterhouse
to teeter at the brink of bankruptcy
until Mr. Rubashkin took action to save his
father’s company. It was those actions that
he was charged with and eventually convicted
Is it not legitimate to ask if the judge
who approved the largest immigration raid
in U.S. history can objectively rule on a tertiary
charge when the two main charges —
immigration and child labor — were dismissed
either by the government or by a
Does Ms. Reade not have a vested interest
in proving that the internationally-publicized
raid uncovered some measure of
Valid questions. But when the defense
attorneys filed a motion at the beginning of
the trial last year, Ms. Reade rejected the
argument that her conflict of interest
would deny her the ability to rule in an
unbiased manner.
The issues that will be brought up on
appeal are many.
􀂄 The existence of the so-called “No
Rubashkin Edict,” in which the courtappointed
trustee was quoted by several
potential buyers as saying if any
Rubashkins would be given senior positions
in the company, they would foreclose
on it. Many buyers held off because of that,
since it is the Rubashkins who have expertise
in the plant.
􀂄 The government stands accused of
removing millions of dollars worth of meat
and poultry from Agriprocessors’ freezers
and placing it outdoors so that it would be
unsalable, ruining Mr. Rubashkin’s chances
of paying back the banks.
􀂄 Mr. Rubashkin was convicted on 16
counts of paying cattle ranchers late, a
quirk in Iowan law that has never been used
since its 1921 enactment. Legal experts
have said that lack of enforcement of a law
in 50 years automatically cancels it.
􀂄 Accountants have testified that the
bank’s actual loss was less than 40 percent
of what the government claimed.
On the instructions of Ms. Reade herself,
these issues will be brought out in appeal in
front of a new judge, who will hopefully recognize
the absurdity of imprisoning for life
a man who even witnesses for the prosecution
agreed — under oath — is a “good person,”
“forthright,” “well-intentioned,”
“hard-working,” “dedicated,” “kind,” “good
to his word,” “a problem-solver,” “honorable,”
“honest” and “religious.”
From the many conversations Hamodia
has had with Mr. Rubashkin and his family,
we are able to agree with that.
The tens of thousands of Jews who
packed large halls over the past month in
Monsey, New Square, Lakewood, Kiryas
Yoel, Flatbush, Boro Park and cities across
the United States, and the nearly 40,000
people who signed a petition that they are
following the case closely, make it obvious
that Jews from many walks of life agree as
The broad support for Mr. Rubashkin,
coming as it does from Satmar Chassidim
in Kiryas Yoel, bnei Yeshivah in Lakewood
and homemakers in Boro Park and
Flatbush, shows that concern for him is a
heartwarming bridge that spans divisions.
Mr. Rubashkin deserves his day in court
— yesterday’s shameful announcement
indicates that he has yet to see that day.

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