The U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling in the case of Sholom Rubashkin. The former Agriprocessors manager was convicted of 86 financial fraud charges in 2009 and sentenced to 27 years in prison. His arrest followed an immigration raid at a Postville plant the company once owned.
Immigration charges against him were later dismissed, and a jury acquitted him of violating child labor laws.
Rubashkin claimed, among other issues, that U.S. District Court Judge Linda Reade, who presided over his trial, couldn’t be impartial because she participated in planning the raid.
Reade met with investigators and prosecutors and discussed charging strategies, number of anticipated arrests, logistics and other issues related to the investigation, according to evidence obtained through a Freedom of Information lawsuit brought by Rubashkin’s attorney.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa filed a brief with the federal appeals court saying Rubashkin should get a new trial because Reade could be biased.
But the federal appeals court said Friday that Rubashkin’s lawyers didn’t ask for the judge to excuse herself during the trial and didn’t object to deadlines set for that type of request.
The court noted that Rubashkin didn’t get the records requested under the FOIA for nearly a year. They came in around the time of his sentencing, but it wasn’t until two months after sentencing that he filed a motion asking for a new trial. Reade rejected that request, and he appealed.
“After studying the lengthy record we find no evidence that the district court’s decision to remain on the case prejudiced Rubashkin’s verdict. We conclude that the district court did not err by denying Rubashkin’s motion for a new trial,” the court said in a 32-page ruling.
Rubashkin’s attorney, Guy Cook, said they would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“This is not justice by any measure,” Cook said. In an email to The Associated Press, he said the appeal court’s opinion “ignores obvious flaws.”
Ruling here PDF