Big Government's Capitol Confidential column has a hit piece on Chief Judge Linda Reade of the Northern District of Iowa:
A federal judge conspired with the Bush Department of Justice to plan the largest immigration raid ever in the United States, and then presided over the trial of the plant’s manager, eventually sentencing him beyond even prosecutors’ recommendation.
New documents show Linda Reade, the chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa, was involved in the planning of the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement raid on the Agriprocessors kosher meatpacking plant at least six months before it occurred in May 2008. She asked for briefings from law enforcement and went as far as to ensure the raid was conducted around her vacation schedule.
But the judge never said a word of this to the defense lawyers for Sholom Rubashkin, the Agriprocessors manager, when she presided over his trial on bank fraud. She didn’t recuse herself from the case, either.
Rubashkin was convicted of causing $20 million in loses to a bank because he overstated Agriprocessors’ assets to get a larger loan. The raid destroyed Agriprocessors and the bank then called the loan. Reade sentenced Rubashkin in June to 27 years in prison. That’s more than Jeffrey Skilling, convicted of causing $80 million in losses from Enron, who got 24 years. And Dennis Kozlowski, the former CEO of Tyco, got 8 ½ to 25 years in prison for a $150 million fraud.
Rubashkin’s sentence is extreme, especially for a first-time, non-violent offender. After all, six former U.S. attorneys general sent Judge Reade a letter arguing against a multi-decade sentence for Rubashkin before she announced her decision. And prosecutors asked for 25 years.
“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,” Rubashkin’s attorney, Nathan Lewin, said in a press release Thursday.
Judge Reade told the defense lawyers that she engaged in “logistical cooperation” with law enforcement officials for the raid, which included prosecuting more than 450 illegal immigrants who worked at Agriprocessors. The Justice Department set up a temporary courthouse at the National Cattle Congress in Waterloo, Iowa, to process the immigrants.
But Reade clearly did more than coordinate moving her office. She told law enforcement officials she was “willing to support the operation in any way possible.” She participated in a meeting that discussed “an overview of charging strategies, numbers of anticipated arrests and prosecutions, logistics, the movement of detainees, and other issues related to the [Agriprocessors] investigation and operation.”
And just before the raid, she asked for a “final gameplan” from prosecutors and “requested a briefing on how the operation will be conducted.”
And Bush Justice Department officials concealed the truth about Reade’s involvement to Congress as well.
The new documents are just coming to light because of a Freedom of Information Act request that has just been fulfilled for Rubashkin’s defense team, even though it was filed before the trial began. Rubashkin’s attorneys say they had to sue the Department of Homeland Security to get all the information.
Rubashkin’s legal team has asked for a new trial, and want a different judge to rule on whether Judge Reade should have disqualified herself from the case. They are also appealing the conviction and sentence Reade handed down.
This case has gotten a lot of media attention recently, with former Rep. Bob Barr calling on the Justice Department to investigate concerns about sentencing disparities. But now it seems we have a better understanding of why that is.
A much too breathless article written in the gotcha Watergate style of journalism, it has no knowledge of how federal courts operate. Beside presiding over trials, hearings, sentences, etc. The Chief Judge of a district has the responsibility to see that the court operates efficiently. That necessitates working closely with the United States Attorney's Office of the district, law enforcement agencies, the United States Probation and Pretrial Services. In the Postville case, Rubashkin knowingly employed hundreds of illegal aliens, including minors. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Department of Labor and other law enforcement agencies decided to target Rubashkin's company, Agriprocessors, for the criminal acts associated with employing illegal aliens. Since hundreds of illegal aliens would be arrested and, instead of processed for deportation, charged with criminal acts involving misuse of Social Security Numbers. Since there were hundreds of subjects, that information had to be brought to the attention of the Chief Judge because her district's criminal docket would be impacted by adding almost 500 cases in addition to the normal criminal cases. This necessitated a high level of coordination with the Chief Judge to arrange everything from temporary court rooms, additional public defenders, custody space, transportation, etc. Normally all this is handled with little input from the Chief Judge as in the course of events those duties are handled by the U.S. Marshals Service, the Public Defender's Service, the court administrator, the arresting agencies, etc. However adding 450 cases would overwhelm those agencies. The work had to be coordinated. And the Chief Judge had to approve most activity.
Now, the interesting part, is that nothing in the article mentioned any allegation that there was not proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Rubashkin was guilty. The whole thrust of the article was that Rubashkin's sentence was too long, 27 years, even more than the government asked for, 25 years. And there is certainly no reason to be so sympathetic to Rubashkin. Unlike, say, perhaps, Stacey Koon, a long serving and heroic police officer who was railroaded by the elder Bush Department of Justice for the arrest of Rodney King.
But why has Big Government gone postal on this issue? They even resurrected the annoying Bob Barr who is endlessly crying about the allegedly overly long sentences drug dealers and corporate fraudsters are receiving. Well, perhaps other corporate criminals should get longer sentences, but 27 years is not enough for Rubashkin who's business model was based on illegal aliens or Muslim immigrants. Instead of paying living wages to white and black Americans, he and his ilk will only hire immigrants, legal and otherwise, in an effort to increase profits, and local and national taxpayers will be stuck with the accounting for welfare, food stamps, and free healthcare for those aliens.
I, for one, am glad to see that a Chief Judge was working closely with law enforcement, and, I might add, defense counsel, to see that those hundreds of illegal aliens were judiciously process and convicted for their crimes. It gave a minor pause to employers of illegals everywhere, though, obviously, it should have been followed up by similar raids and prosecutions elsewhere. But now we have Obama's Amnesty of non-enforcement. I don't think whining about a crook will do anything but help gain sympathy for other employers of illegals and the illegals themselves. Chief Judge Reade is a credit to her profession especially in the light of the other judges in the news recently for there outrageous misinterpretation of federal law and the Constitution. Lets not confuse a dedicated judge with a Clinton hack and a homosexual activist.