Tuesday, June 08, 2010

A Just Verdict

The anti-Semitic prejudice of the American system of jurisprudence keeps on raising its ugly head. The Rubashkin trial just concluded is yet again another example of this prejudice.

Oh… wait! Sholom Rubashkin was acquitted on all 67 counts of child labor violations in connection with underage workers at Agriprocessors.

Never mind.

OK. I said this in jest. Unfortunately however I have presented an attitude that is all too familiar in some Orthodox Jewish circles: The idea that anti-Semitism guides the American mindset with respect to the Jewish people - especially highly visible Jews like Sholom Rubashkin.

Aside from constantly proclaiming his Tzidkis (righteousness) the one thing I heard the most from Rubashkin’s supporters about his 26 million dollar bank fraud trial was a cry of anti Semitism. Even for those who didn’t use the word anti-Semitism – the rhetoric showed that it was an obvious thought in the back of their minds. It never occurred to any of them that he was convicted of that crime because he was actually guilty.

After his conviction there was barely even any lip-service paid to that fact. The accusations of anti-Semitism continued with claims that the sentencing recommendation was grossly out of proportion to the crime. But to claim it was based on anti Jewish bias is itself a biased view.

I’m not going to rehash my view that anti Semitism had little if anything to do with that verdict or harsh sentencing requests. But I do want to emphasize how wrong it is to drop the ‘anti-Semitism bomb’ every time an injustice happens to a Jew. There is no systematic anti-Semitism in the courts. Nor can any assumptions of anti Semitism be made about non-Jews who serve on juries even if they have never met another Jew.

This was clearly shown in yesterday’s jury verdict. It was reached based on the evidence. Not on anti… or even pro-Semitism. People who constantly cry anti-Semitism at the drop of a hat ought to take a good look at what happened here.

There are some people who are asking for an apology about negative attitudes expressed against Rubashkin. I part company with them. He is not an innocent man.

The state child labor law charges were but a few of the many accusations made against him. There is evidence that he was negligent of other illegalities going on right under his nose – either out of pure ignorance of them or just plain not caring. Like the 9000 counts of immigration law violations.

Just because these charges have been dropped doesn’t mean he is innocent. If I am not mistaken they were dropped by federal prosecutors because the sentencing guidelines in the fraud trial more than covered any guilty verdict coming out of a trial on those charges. Those charges were dismissed without prejudice. That means the government can re-file them if they want to.

And let’s not forget the deliberate fraud he was convicted of. So I am personally not about to apologize for my criticism of him. The Chilul HaShem did not go away.

That man is no Tzadik – despite the many good deeds that are constantly brought up about him. Good deeds in one area do not make up for the bad ones in another. We would do well to remember that.

That said, I think this verdict is worth celebrating. For the record, I’m glad about it. Like I have repeatedly said, this man and his family have suffered enough. He already got what he deserved for what he did. Any additional punishment would be excessive in my view.

The fact that he was acquitted here might impact the sentencing in his fraud trial. The way I see it, the protests of all those attorneys general and other prominent legal experts about the excessive prosecutorial sentencing recommendations combined with yesterday’s verdict can only help.

I’ve read that the judge in that case is a pretty tough one and generally goes along with sentencing recommendations. I hope she surprises people and does not carry out what would be a gross miscarriage of justice. Let her sentence him to time served. That would be a fair and just outcome.