Report from South Dakota: Matzav Exclusive Roundup of Rubashkin Trial – Day One

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rubashkin-trial-small1[Exclusive photos below.] The following is a brief roundup of the first day of the Rubashkin trial yesterday in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Jury selection was held and the following are some anecdotes from the reporter on site covering the trial at the US District Court on S. Phillips Avenue off of West 12th Street in Sioux Falls.

As reported yesterday, the trial is being held in the courthouse in Sioux Falls after the federal judge in Iowa accepted a defense motion arguing that potential jurors in the state were unduly influenced by media coverage of the case. 

The trial is expected to last four to six weeks. Reb Shalom Mordechai Rubashkin faces 91 charges in the first of two trials. The second trial on 72 immigration-related charges will start one week after the first trial spoke first to Getzel Rubashkin, Reb Shalom Mordechai’s son, and asked about Reb Shalom Mordechai’s matzav ruach and how he is doing. Getzel once again said that his father is strong and upbeat, with absolute confidence that he will merit a yeshuah.

“My father’s bitachon is nothing less than remarkable,” Getzel told late last night, adding that the continued chizuk provided by readers and others is so appreciated by his father and their family.

When asked by what Reb Shalom Mordechai’s reaction was to the jury selection process, which lasted only one day – considered quick for a case of this kind – Getzel said that his father and the defense team, led by Attorney Guy Cook, were very satisfied.

“It was a long and involved process yesterday,” the reporter onsite related. “But Attorney Cook was methodical, calculated and artful about what he did and how he questioned the potential jurors. It was very interesting to watch. The contrast with the prosecution, who were blunt and tactless, was stark and quite blatant. The prosecution went at it without hiding what they want to accomplish – and with a vengeance. It was easy to recognize what type of jury they wanted to assemble.”

The reporter continued:

“In the process of jury selection, the defense knocked off 11 witnesses and the prosecution 7. The final result was a selection of 12 jurors and 4 alternates. The Rubashkin team was satisfied.

“It was a full day affair, from about 9 a.m. until close to 5 p.m. The judge got the first shot at asking questions of the potential jurors. The judge asked questions, then the prosecution asked questions, and then the defense asked questions. Basically, they were trying to find people who would say things that would disqualify them. Then they had the veto phase during which the jurors went out of the room, and the defense got to veto two while the prosecution got to veto two, and then the defense got to veto two again while the prosecution got to veto two etc.

 “Note that these were regular people who got letters in the mail stating that they are up for jury duty. Most probably did not know what kind of case they might be called for upon arriving at the court to fulfill their civic duty.

“The judge, U.S. District Judge Linda Reade, first asked if anyone has any personal hardships that would excuse them from the case.  She then asked if they had read any media coverage leading up to the case. 4 people were allowed to go due to personal hardship and 1 or 2 due to media exposure. She ended up taking at least one person aside after he said that he had read about the case. They didn’t want the rest of the jurors to hear about that this person had read, so they pulled him out with the lawyers and the judge and this person went to a side room and spoke about what he had read.

The reporter continued:

“Most noticeable to me was that Attorney Cook was looking for who these people are and what they are about. He asking less pointed questions – but questions whose answers he obviously felt would speak volumes about the person. For example, to one potential juror he asked: When you purchase a car, do you make a snap decision or do you deliberate and take your time before buying? Cook was analytical, asking questions to determine the emotional and compassionate levels of the people.

“The attorney did extensive research and found out about these potential jurors. For example, one gentleman he knew to be a Vikings fan, and he thus engaged the person in conversation about the Vikings before asking other questions. This was all part of a strategy to find out more about each potential juror. He asked another individual about who disciplines the children in his home, he or his spouse. Cook obviously felt that there was so much to glean and learn from every answer. As mentioned, the Rubashkins are satisfied with the way the proceedings went.”

As reported yesterdsy, a busful of Yidden from New York travelled to Sioux Falls for the trial and then a van of bochurim arrived as well.

Asked if there will continue to be a presence of frum Yidden after a bus returns to New York today, Getzel Rubashkin told that there are efforts underway to keep a supportive presence in Sioux Falls throughout the trial.

“The court was filled with family, press, and others,” the reporter shared. “About three or four dozen people watched the jury selection on a screen in the spillover room in the courthouse.

“We ended at about ten minutes to 5 with the jury selection. The jurors were called back into courtroom and the judge swore them in as a jury. She also instructed them about who they are and aren’t permitted to talk to during the duration of the case. The judge said she wouldn’t be quarantining or sequestering them, but that all communication has to be guarded and no info about the case may be heard, read or discussed with others. The jurists will spend their days, 9 to 5, in court.

“Tomorrow, the judge will tell the jurors the rest of the jury rules and will then start with opening statements and presentation of evidence.

“The judge said that the burden of proof is on the government which claims that Reb Shalom Mordechai broke the law.

“Based on those intimately involved in the case,” continued the reporter, “we should expect the prosecution to go crazy these first few days and weeks, throwing everything at Reb Shalom Mordechai and accusing him of everything under the sun. They will hold nothing back. There will be witnesses – plenty of them – who will then be cross-examined by the defense.

Assistant U.S. Attorney C.J. Williams has named about 80 witnesses that prosecutors might call for their case.

“We can only hope for the best,” concluded the reporter.

Following the long and tiring day, the group of frum people went back to their hotel, The Country Inn, where they davened Minchah in the conference room and then ate supper. A minyan for Maariv was held and the group farbrenged together with Reb Shalom Mordechai, who inspired them with his positivity and simcha.

“This man is so unique and inspiring,” said the reporter. “I cannot put it into words for readers what an adam choshuv this is. You have to meet him to see what a special individual Reb Shalom Mordechai Rubashkin is. He is a true maamin in the One Above.”

The group arose early this morning, at about 6:30 a.m., for Shacharis at 7 a.m. Reb Shalom Mordechai was to be heading right to the courthouse to be there by about 8 a.m. “The rest of the olam will eat a breakfast and then head over to the courthouse to be there by 9 o’clock or so,” we were told.

We asked if the judge seems to be strict or leaning in any direction.

“She seems fair and balanced – so far anyway, for the most part,” the reporter says. “She made sure that Reb Shalom Mordechai’s wife, Leah, had a seat in the courtroom yesterday morning. She runs a tight courtroom, however. She has banned all cell phones in the courtroom. According to the rules of her court, all cell phones are collected, marked with a person’s name, and later returned after exit from the courtroom. There are no exceptions and the rule is strictly enforced.”

For exclusive photos taken yesterday, see below:

[slideshow id=36]

Read‘s previous stories on the Rubashkin case at the following links: here, here, here, here, here, and here.  

Please continue to daven for Shalom Mordechai Halevi ben Rivkah.

Tens – actually hundreds – of thousands of dollars are still needed to pay for Reb Shalom Mordechai’s legal team. The help of Yidden across the globe is severely needed.

 You can easily donate by clicking on one of the following links.

Alternatively, you can mail contributions to:

Pidyon Shvuyim Fund

53 Olympia Lane

Monsey NY 10952

{Noam Amdurski & Dovid Bernsteiun, The Staff and Matzav’s reporter in SD}


  1. The major issue here is why is Mr Rubashkin charged with employment violations that no-one in the industry was charged with. On Dec 12, 2006, Federal ICE agents raided Swift beef and pork facilities arresting almost 1300 illegals.
    1) The illegals were not charged with the criminal aggravated identity theft as were the 389 illegals arrested at Rubashkin. (The convictions were all overturned later.)
    2) The CEOs were not personally charged with employment violations as Rubashkin was.
    3) No corporate criminal charges were filed as in the case of Rubashkin.
    4) After the Swift raid the authorities did not continue to look for other charges as in the case of Rubashkin.
    5) All information regarding the Dec 12, 2006 “operation wagon train” raid on Swift was deleted from the ICE.GOV website and replaced with the “Rubashkin… …the largest raid of it’s kind” Even though ICE press releases had previously referred to the 6 facility multi-state Swift raid as “the largest raid of it’s kind.” The information is still available on
    6) Original complaint made allegations about drug production and weapons dealing at the plant, yet no drug sniffing dogs nor BATF agents took part in the raid, demostrating the Govt knew such charges were false in the first place.
    7) The orignal complaint states the informant (informant #7) was denied employment numerous times because he could not provide a valid SSN. He was only hired after presenteing an ICE supplied SSN.

    Readers are urged to write their congressmen to ask why the Jew Rubashkin is being treated differently than the CEO’s of Swift or IFCO, both which had almost 1300 illegals arrested at their respective facilities in 2006, no criminal charges were filed against the corporations or the CEO’s, they paid fines vizehu.
    Find your congressman’s names at:

  2. I can’t decide if having busloads of bochirim generally distrubting what’s otherwise a sleepy town will be helpful, hurtful or inconsequential to the defendent. Discuss.

  3. I agree with #4 even more because they were probbely showing up with there. second why do we need to have pics. of people eating in the park.dont get me wrong i also hope he wins lman kidush hashem

  4. If Rubashkin is innocent, his lawyers have their work cut out for them. As for the busloads of bochurim showing up in Sioux Falls, people in that part of the country are pretty fair-minded and are likely to be impressed by the support Rubashkin is getting. But they are not stupid. If Rubashkin is guilty, they will send him to jail.


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