“The government’s own memoranda show that more than six months before the raid, Judge Linda Reade began a series of meetings in which she collaborated with the law-enforcement team that prosecuted the case against Sholom Rubashkin,” said Nathan Lewin, lead appellate counsel for Sholom Rubashkin. “Without disclosing to defense counsel her meetings with the U.S. attorney and the support she expressed for the raid, she presided at Mr. Rubashkin’s trial, and then immediately had him imprisoned, and sentenced him to two years more in prison than the prosecution requested.”
These documents were requested long before the trial and were only now released. To my legally untrained eye this seems to change everything. Based on this - attorneys for Rubashkin have filed a motion for a new trial asking that the verdict be vacated.
I hope they get it. There is no guarantee that they will, but there is at least hope that someone in a position to do so - with a sense of justice - will agree and vacate the verdict allowing Rubashkin to have a new trial.
If that happens it does not mean he will necessarily be acquitted. There was substantial evidence of his guilt. That seems clear. A new trial will still be prosecuted vigorously by the prosecution and they will use all the evidence accumulated at the first trial to seek a conviction. But the hope here is that even if he is once again found guilty - a new judge might mete out a fairer sentence than Judge Reade did.
The one thing that seems to be universally accepted by even his biggest critics is that Rubashkin’s sentence was too harsh. That was the position of many editorials across the nation – including the Chicago Tribune. Many pointed out the tremendous sentencing disparities of white collar criminals convicted of similar crimes. Ranging from a slap on the wrist to 27 years in federal prison.
There is no question in my mind that Rubashkin - guilty though he may be – was set up as an example. Judge Reade is famous for throwing the book at people. She did so here. But based on this explosive press release she was predisposed to do so even before the trial began. That is at least immoral if not illegal.
I hope Sholom Rubashkin gets a new trial with a better result. But I also hope Judge Reade is taken to task for her improper behavior as a Judge. I don’t know what the judicial sanctions are for this kind of behavior but at the very least she ought to be asked to resign from the bench. And if this is somehow determined to be a criminal act, there ought to be a criminal prosecution. Perhaps the book ought to be thrown at her too. Judicial misconduct is no small thing. Maybe she too should be made an example of. We ought to clean house of corrupt judges.
She used her position of power to throw the book at Sholom Rubashkin - without an ounce of mercy. If convicted of a crime - that ought to be her fate as well. That would be a just outcome.
Update: (8:45 AM CDT) A more detailed description of events is now availabe in the Cutting Edge News.