Rubashkin Judge Rules on Her Own Conflict of Interest-Draws Rebuke as “Arrogant”


rubashkin2By Martin Barillas

U.S. District Judge Linda Reade issued a ruling on October 27, 2010 denying a motion for new trial forRabbi Sholom Rubashkin – a former meatpacking executive who was convicted in 2009 of financial fraud following an immigration raid on his family’s Postville, Iowa company, known then as Agriprocessors.

Rubashkin’s attorneys, led by Nathan Lewin of Washington, D.C., have called the judge’s conduct “arrogant.”

Reade, in essence, self-ruled on charges of her own misconduct. She found that there was not sufficient new evidence presented to the court to warrant a new trial based on her judicial misconduct. The 50-year-old rabbi is currently being held in a federal prison in Otisville, NY. Rubashkin, who belongs to the Chabad-Lubavitch movement of Judaism, was found guilty of 86 financial fraud charges in 2009. He was sentenced to 27 years in prison and was ordered to pay $27 million in restitution. Numerous legal and judicial experts, among them six former U.S. Attorneys General, have questioned the severity of the sentence.

Attorney Lewin has argued that new evidence shows that Judge Reade, who presided over the trial, actually participated in planning the 2008 raid by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents at Agriprocessors. Some 400 undocumented foreign workers were arrested and then deported. Rubashkin’s defense argued that Reade could not be impartial in her finding against the rabbi, arguing that she should have recused herself from the case, and that the court’s involvement in the raid was illegal. Their contention was supported by affidavits from the chairman of the American Bar Association’s Committee on the Code of Judicial Conduct and by a NYU law professor who is the country’s leading expert on legal ethics. They concluded that the judge had committed judicial misconduct and the prosecutors had committed prosecutorial misconduct. Attorney Lewin vowed to appeal Reade’s decision and rejected the Judge’s reasoning.

“Judge Reade took a leisurely 49 days (from September 8 to October 27),” Lewin stated, “while Sholom Rubashkin is languishing in jail, to issue a brief ‘Order’ in which she totally fails to address the serious allegations of judicial misconduct that were made against her. It was unprecedented judicial arrogance for her to rule on her own guilt – to assess herself the serious charges against her that are proved by the government’s documents. And the case she presented for herself is woefully inadequate.”

Rubashkin’s defense acquired documents through a Freedom of Information Act request, which they say showed federal agents met 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 planning purposes. In her self-ruling, Judge Reade denied that the internal Immigration and Customs Enforcement memoranda discovered under the FOIA request constitute “newly discovered evidence,” and held that there is nothing in the documents that would be admissible on any issue relating to Rubashkin’s conviction of bank fraud and other charges. Reade said Rubashkin failed to make any arguments based on the documents that he could not have raised before trial. Rubashkin claims the FOIA documents report that Judge Reade “supported” the enforcement action, but she ruled that this misstates and mischaracterizes her role. 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 that a federal statute directs that a judge must be recused if her/his impartiality might reasonably be questioned. Passing judgment on her own involvement, Judge Reade said, “Based on the facts and ignoring all rumor and innuendo, the court finds that recusal was not required in this case.” Reade claims that she had to ensure court proceedings are efficient and to provide all constitutional guarantees for defendants arrested in the raid. According to the judge, 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.” Saying that there was no Eighth Circuit Court precedent for referring the motion to another judge or requiring discovery, as Rubashkin had requested, Judge Reade said that the motion was “totally devoid of merit.”

In a scathing rebuke, Lewin stated, “Her ‘Order’ addresses none of the specific events that prove the bias that led her to impose a 27-year jail sentence on a first-time, non-violent offender who was found guilty of overstating the security for his bank loan. She does not disclose or explain (1) how often or why she met repeatedly with the prosecutor on many occasions beginning six months before the raid; (2) whether and why she requested a meeting with “many attendees” from law enforcement, at which there were “discussions about numbers, potential trials,” and during which, she stated she was “willing to support the operation in any way possible;” (3) whether and why she attended a March 17, 2008, meeting with prosecutors at which “parties discussed an overview of charging strategies;” (4) whether and why she demanded from the prosecutor a “final game plan” on the anticipated raid in the weeks preceding it; and (5) whether and why she had weekly meetings with the prosecutor in the weeks preceding the raid. These events – proved by the government’s own internal memoranda – are probably the tip of the iceberg. We have sought discovery for additional and redacted documents related to Judge Reade’s participation in the raid, but Judge Reade summarily dismissed the notion that the public be given the chance to see the full extent of her biased actions.”

Lewin added, “Judge Reade’s failure to disclose facts regarding her own conduct repeats her failure to disclose the details of her involvement in the planning for the raid to Mr. Rubashkin’s lawyers in November 2008, when she set a deadline for the filing of a motion to recuse her from further participation in the case. She ignores in her ‘Order’ the sworn affidavits of Mr. Rubashkin’s lawyers, that had they known what has now been disclosed by the ICE documents, they would have moved to disqualify her. And under governing standards set by federal law and U.S. Supreme Court decisions, she would have been disqualified and could never have made the dozens of rulings in Mr. Rubashkin’s trial that harmed him and resulted in the jury’s adverse verdict.”

Vowing to rigorously pursue the case, Lewin stated, “We are confident that the Court of Appeals will not tolerate these violations of fair and due process, and that Mr. Rubashkin will be vindicated in the appellate process.”

Cutting Edge senior correspondent Martin Barillas is editor of Speroforum.

{The Cutting Edge/}


  1. Attempting to put my feelings for another yid aside and look at this from a strictly legal point of view; I cannot understand how the conduct of this judge is permitted. She should have recused herself.

    Former Supreme court justice Thurgood Marshall refused to be involved in any case involving the NAACP b/c he once worked for them as a lawyer. He did this even though the cases had no connection to his work there.

  2. She must be gettting an awful lot of money to be willing to hang herself like this. The unions are powerful if they can force a judge to commit professional suicide.

  3. she and their whole team of fools are going to fall. This is undemocratic and corrupt, and they are making a deeper hole to collect more mess. They should just get out as soon as they can before they really bring themselves to an even lower state. It is a very serious mistake and they are covering up. This judge must be petrified of the consequences, because she must know how much she did to have to cover over.

  4. Who was it last year who left the comment, “Linda Reade has been rated among the ten worst federal judges in America”?. The comment needs more publicity.

  5. Unfortunately it’s not professional suicide if no one outside of the frum community seems to care that there’s a gross miscarriage of justice taking place. Mrs. Reade is clearly a wicked wicked soul and how she can be so blind to the hurt that she has caused is extremely disconcerting. Keep up your prayers for R’Sholom and his family!

  6. what a mockery of Democracy. This was such a great land, look what they’re doing to it.
    This judge is a dangerous woman who is not out for America’s best judicial system. Neither is she capable of being among the best of the US Judicial system. She will be further exposed. Lies and injustice do not go on forever.

  7. Judge Reade is exactly what the Republicans who appointed her wanted. A “hanging Judge” who is tough on crime.

    She has not given SMR a stiffer sentence than she gives non-Jewish convicts. She gives harsh sentences to everyone who is convicted in her court.

    That’s what “tough on crime” politicians look for in a Judge.

  8. Sholom Mordechai’s defense team filed their reply memorandum (to the government’s response to the motion for a new trial) on September 7th. I was wondering all this time what is taking the judge so long to respond. At first I thought she was trying to issue her ruling very close to the Nov. 17th deadline for the defense to file their appeal with the Court of Appeals- to prevent the defense from including the denied motion in the appeal. But ultimately, she gave them a few weeks leeway. So what took her so long? I think that this motion, along with 2 prominent judicial ethics experts’ affidavits, opining that she clearly violated the judicial code of ethics, and deprived Sholom Mordechai of his constitutional right to a fair trial, really put her in the hot seat. She was at a total loss how to respond to this, without looking like a total idiot. Having read her ruling, I thing she did the best she could, but anyone with half a brain can see through her self-serving excuses for continuing to hide the truth from the world. With Hashem’s help, she will ultimately be exposed to the world (even those with less than half a brain) for what she is, and Sholom Mordechai will have a yeshua. Let’s keep davening.

  9. I think that Eric Holder the anti-semite who refuses to investigate this, needs to be publicly confronted. Keep writing to your senators on this, eventually even a racist like Holder will be forced to respond.