Update: WSJ's Law Blog has weighed in with links to other news sources and to the underlyiing "new trial" request. Note this from a spokesman for the local U.S. Attorney's office: “The only thing I would note is, any reference to (Rubashkin’s) guilt or innocence is noticeably missing.” What is that supposed to mean? "Better the US government should violate the rule of law in 87 ways than that one kosher butcher should violate securities law in 87 ways"? Perhaps that could become a new slogan for law students to parrot.
This is so absolutely astonishing that I am just going to reprint some of the AP story, with some bold-face added. More stories about the Reade/Rubashkin case as they become available
"DES MOINES, Iowa — Attorneys for a former Iowa kosher slaughterhouse executive filed a motion Thursday seeking a new trial, claiming the judge that presided over his trial participated in the planning of a May 2008 immigration raid that led to his arrest.
"Sholom Rubashkin was found guilty last fall of 86 federal financial fraud charges and was sentenced in June by Chief U.S. District Court Judge Linda Reade to 27 years in prison and ordered to pay $27 million in restitution.
"His attorneys filed a motion and more than 100 pages of documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit that they say show Reade met with immigration officials and prosecutors beginning as early as October 2007.
The documents show prosecutors coordinated the raid so it wouldn't conflict with Reade's vacation schedule. They also show that as early as November 2007, Reade and prosecutors discussed holding court proceedings after the raid at the National Cattle Congress exhibition area in Waterloo. Other documents indicate Reade "surveyed" and approved of the location.
"A telephone message left Thursday for Reade was not immediately returned, and U.S. District Clerk of Court Robert Phelps said judges do not comment on pending cases. Bob Teig, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office declined comment, saying the office would respond in a motion answering the allegations.
"The motion also alleges that a later meeting was held where "the court made it clear that it was willing to support the operation in any way possible."
"Rubashkin's lawyers argue that the documents also indicate that a meeting was held on March 17, 2008, where Reade and prosecutors "discussed an overview of charging strategies, numbers of anticipated arrests and prosecutions, logistics, the movement of detainees and other issues related to the ... investigation and operation."
"Affidavits show Immigration Custom Enforcement records during the preplanning period that included communications with Reade, which indicated that Rubashkin was the focus on the investigation.
"Rubashkin's attorneys claim that federal law requires judge to disqualify themselves if their impartiality might be reasonably questioned and that Reade illegally presided over Rubashkin's trial and sentencing.
"'This motion alleges that Judge Reade acted improperly by participating in repeated ... meetings with the U.S. attorney's office and that she concealed this impropriety by failing to disclose those meetings or their content to counsel for Mr. Rubashkin at any time during the criminal proceedings," attorneys Nathan and Alyza Lewin wrote in the motion. "Hence she is not 'sufficiently distanced from the fray as to permit an objective consideration of the evidence.'"
"They went on to ask that a "neutral and disinterested" judge be assigned to rule on the motion."