Scholars Support New Rubashkin Trial Because Judge Should Have Stepped Out of Case After Coordination with Prosecutors


rubashkinIn a major turning point in the effort to vacate the conviction of Sholom Rubashkin, two of the country’s leading experts on judicial and legal ethics filed sworn opinions that said both U.S. District Court Chief Judge Linda Reade, who presided at Rubashkin’s trial, and the federal prosecutors who brought and tried the case against him had committed judicial and legal misconduct. Under binding Supreme Court law, the failure of the judge and the prosecutors to disclose to Rubashkin’s trial lawyers that they had met privately numerous times to plan the May 2008 raid on the Agriprocessors kosher meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa requires reversal of his trial and sentence.

The opinion of the experts was filed in Rubashkin’s reply brief last Wednesday supporting the motion his lawyers had filed for a new trial based on the newly discovered evidence of collaboration between law enforcement, prosecutors and Judge Reade.

Mark I. Harrison, who chaired the American Bar Association’s committee that revised the ABA Code of Judicial Conduct (adopted unanimously at an ABA national assembly in 2007), found that Judge Reade violated the Code by “initiating and/or authorizing and participating in numerous ex parte meetings with prosecutors and other law enforcement personnel in connection with an impending matter,” as well as by “failing to disclose the nature, substance and extent of the ex parte communications to all parties at the earliest practicable time” and “failing to recuse herself from presiding over the trial of the principal individual responsible for managing the business that was the subject of the ex parte proceedings.”

Professor Stephen Gillers, one of the most frequently quoted authority on legal ethics, who teaches at New York University Law School, found in his sworn expert opinion that the prosecutors “violated rules governing ex parte contact with the judge who presided at the trial of Mr. Rubashkin and in failing to inform Mr. Rubashkin’s defense counsel at the inception of the criminal proceeding against Mr. Rubashkin.” Gillers found that prosecutors should have communicated with court administrative personnel, not with the chief judge personally, and should have kept a detailed record of all communications with the chief judge. Failure to inform defense lawyers of the meetings with the judge violated prosecutors’ constitutional obligation to criminal defendants.

Rubashkin’s attorneys contend that beginning more than six months before the raid, Judge Reade of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa had off-the-record meetings with prosecutors during which she received briefings on the raid preparations. She also cleared the date of the raid with her vacation schedule, participated in meetings at which “charging strategies” were discussed, expressed to prosecutors and immigration officials her “support” for the raid, and directed that she be briefed privately by prosecutors on how the raid was to be carried out. Rubashkin’s defense counsel swore in affidavits that they would have filed a motion to recuse Judge Reade if they had been made aware of the full extent of her participation.

Proof of Judge Reade’s participation in the planning of the raid continues to emerge from recently produced government documents. One e-mail contained in the Rubashkin lawyers’ recent filing indicates that prosecutors viewed her as a “stakeholder” in the raid, and a second e-mail refers to her presence at “weekly” meetings held for several weeks before the raid.

“It now seems clear from the most authoritative juridical experts that Sholom Rubashkin’s trial was conducted in violation of American legal and constitutional principles,” said Rabbi Pesach Lerner, executive vice president of the National Council of Young Israel. “Mr. Rubashkin is entitled to due process of law, like all American citizens, and we call on the Justice Department and the courts to treat him fairly and equitably.”

Rubashkin’s lawyers have asked that Judge Reade transfer their new-trial motion to another judge from a “distant district” for determination, “in order to preserve public confidence in the impartiality of the judicial system.” They are also seeking fully unredacted documents that relate to the coordination of the Agriprocessors raid, as well as discovery and an evidentiary hearing on the motion for a new trial.

{Noam Newscenter}


  1. Sholom Mordechai, for whatever reason, was plainly railroaded. He sould get a etrial which, most likely, will end like his immigration charges and underage labos charges – dismissed !!!!!

  2. people should learn from this story that the u.s.court system ,while protecting some,has literally ruined others.and continues to do so…when one person drags another to court,and the stakes involve family(or theloss of it)one is forced to come up with unheard of amounts of money for one’s defense…sholom rubashkin fully deserves every penny…but remember not to look down upon others(lesser known cases)who may have been falsely slandered just the same.

  3. If you want to send a letter to Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin.
    but you want to make it fast via email
    you can email to
    but you must enclose your real name and full listed address. you can write in Yiddish and in English.
    Volunteers will print your letter put in in envelope and address it/ but it must contain your name and address otherwise the prison will not allow delivery.
    all letters are confidential

  4. To #2 -and in response to #6 – It is staggering how many pseudo-experts the Jewish people have who try to undermine independent experts’ analysis – I’ve come across it not just on the blogs -when the information gleaned from the Defense’s FOIL requests about Judge Reade’s ex parte communications with the prosecution was exposed – everybody from real estate lawyers to individuals who dropped out of law school – nu – another “expert” had an opinion – – “Eh – it’s not like the defense makes it – it’s just irrelevant filings – it’s not gonna go anywhere” – Number 1: Who made you an expert – and why are you klerring shailos when some of the foremost constitutional experts and legal minds of our generation confirm the legitimacy of the issue?
    Enough – It is wrong and it is destructive.
    Number 2: Reading a legal brief in your spare time does not make you a constitutional scholar. If you can’t help with a case that clearly has implications for all of klal yisroel then stay off the blogs and keep your opinions to yourself.

  5. Prosecutors viewed Judge Reade as a “stakeholder” in the raid. Wow! If this doesn’t ultimately get Sholom Mordechai a new trial, then we will know without a doubt that the entire judicial system of the U.S. is corrupt & a total sham. Hopefully, for Sholom Mordechai’s sake, Judge Reade will be made to feel the pressure to grant the new-trial motion, or to forward it to a judge who will. I hope he does not have to wait for the Court of Appeals to weigh in on this. Let us all daven for Sholom Mordechai. Yeshuas Hasem K’heref Ayin!

  6. I’ve noticed (albeit from the “posting name),that for whatever reason, has a penchant for making inflamatory comments… Isn’t there a way for Matzav to curtail it?