Believe this and we’ve got a bridge to sell you.
The judge who presided over Sholom Rubashkin’s fraud trial did nothing improper when she met with federal agents prior to the massive 2008 immigration raid at Agriprocessors, Inc., prosecutors argued Tuesday.
U.S. District Judge Linda Reade was only told about a planned raid that would involve hundreds of illegal immigrant arrests, Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Deegan Jr. wrote in court papers.
The chief federal judge for Iowa’s northern district was not privy to where the raid would take place, who would be targeted, or other details before the raid was underway, Deegan said.
The federal court filing came in response to defense claims that Reade did not disclose all of her conversations before the May 2008 raid. Rubashkin’s lawyers have asked for a new trial on grounds Reade took an improper role in helping plan the raid.
Reade has said she had limited “logistical cooperation” with law enforcement in advance, to ensure that the detained immigrants were given attorneys and interpreters. The massive raid also required her to move the immigrant hearings to the National Cattle Congress in Waterloo because of the number of arrests.
“In order to plan for hundreds of criminal prosecutions, the Court needed to be contacted at the earliest opportunity to determine whether the Court could handle so many prosecutions at once and, if so, when,” Deegan wrote. “The Court needed several months to plan for its role in the operation. There is nothing about the timing of the notification to suggest anything nefarious.”
Defense lawyers say Reade participated in a series of meetings with immigration agents and prosecutors that went beyond that limited role.
Reade has said she does not comment on pending cases.
Deegan said statements attributed to Reade about her “support” for the operation were taken out of context. Even if she had known that Agriprocessors was the target, he said, the allegations still would not lead a reasonable person to question her impartiality. He noted that the prosecutions immediately after the raid focused on the plant workers and not the management.