A Note From the Yated Editor
Last week’s Yated cover story about Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin’s state case being expunged from the record electrified the community, triggering an outpouring of congratulatory phone calls and letters. The wave of happiness that engulfed people all over the world at the news testifies to how deeply embedded is the collective concern over Sholom Mordechai’s plight and the abiding quest for justice in the long-running Rubashkin saga.
Many who confused the state case with the federal case still moving forward, rejoiced at the thought that Sholom Mordechai was about to be released. Unfortunately, that is not (yet) the case. He remains incarcerated in federal prison. In another month he will have spent 2340 days behind bars, a small part of his 27-year sentence.
The status of his legal case depends on the outcome of a powerful motion presently before the Court – one of the last avenues of justice available to him in the American legal system. Many of the letters that poured in following last week’s story queried whether the expungement of state case would exert any influence over the federal one.
It goes without saying that a defendant reputed to be a villain does not stand a good chance of eliciting mercy from a judge. The view of Sholom Mordechai circulated at the time of his trial as a chronic lawbreaker who exploited child labor and mistreated his workers undercut hopes of a more lenient sentence than the shocking 25 years prosecutors recommended for financial offenses. As is well-known, his sentence surpassed even that.
As the story behind the expungement of the state case against Sholom Mordechai is revisited, awareness grows in many quarters that the fantastic inventions painting him as a heartless corporate boss presiding over a den of crime were never true. That image, a product of malicious slander and fantasy, unraveled at the state trial.
While Sholom Mordechai’s jail sentence is in the federal case, sentencing rules allow the judge to consider facts and allegations not part of the conviction. As such, this expungement could have a significant effect. If the appeal currently before the court succeeds, it would destroy the underpinning of the draconian sentence – the inflated loss amount – and conceivably lead to a re-sentencing. Were the state allegations of child labor and abuse still on the record, they could have been used in sentencing rationale to justify severity – a possibility now firmly out of the question.
Although prejudice tends to die hard, we hope the truth will gain increasing traction and mobilize efforts to support Sholom Mordechai in his ongoing quest for justice. Due to special sensitivities and ongoing litigation, that subject will be explored at a later date.
This article first appeared in Yated Ne’eman and is published here with permission.