A federal judge denied a motion today for new trial for R’ Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin, saying there was no new evidence discovered to produce an acquittal. The Rubashkin defense team requested the new trial based on the claim Chief Judge Linda Reade unlawfully presided over his trial and should have recused herself. Rubashkin’s attorneys claim Reade was involved in the planning of the 2008 raid at the meatpacking plant where nearly 400 illegal workers were arrested.Rubashkin’s attorneys acquired documents through a Freedom of Information Act request, which they say showed federal agents were in contact with Reade regarding the raid.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said there was nothing illegal about the court’s involvement in the raid planning, in light of the fact there were going to be so many arrests and prosecutions. The court needed to be aware for it’s planning purposes.
Reade said in her ruling the internal Immigration and Customs Enforcement memoranda, the defendant argues is “newly discovered evidence,” isn’t evidence. There’s nothing in the documents that would be admissible on any issue relating to Rubashkin’s conviction of bank fraud and other charges, she said.
Reade said Rubashkin fails to make any arguments based on the documents that he couldn’t have raised before trial. Rubashkin claims Reade supported the enforcement action but that misstates and mischaracterizes the information, she said.
Reade said her “support” was clearly in the context of the court’s duty to logistically prepare for the arrest of hundreds of persons.
As to the issue that Reade should have recused herself from the case, she said according to statute a judge must be recused if her/his impartiality might reasonably be questioned because of bias or prejudice.
“Based on the facts and ignoring all rumor and innuendo, the court finds that recusal was not required in this case,” Reade said.
Reade said she had to ensure court proceedings are efficient and provide all constitutional guarantees for defendants arrested in the raid.
If she had recused herself it would provide incentive to defendants to “advance rumors and foster speculation in the media in an effort to judge shop. The court declines to do so,” she said.
Reade also said there wasn’t any Eighth Circuit Court precedent for her to refer the motion to another judge or to permit discovery, as Rubashkin had requested. There is nothing to discover that would support the motion.
She said it was “totally devoid of merit.”
A federal jury in November convicted Rubashkin of 86 counts of bank, mail and wire fraud, money laundering and failure to pay livestock providers in a timely manner. The charges came after a May 2008 raid.