CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Attorneys for Sholom Rubashkin have asked for a new trial after discovering the presiding judge was more involved in planning a 2008 immigration raid at Postville's Agriprocessors plant than previously disclosed.
Rubashkin, 51, is serving a 27-year federal prison sentence in Otisville, N.Y., after being found guilty in court last year of 86 counts of financial fraud. His attorneys say Chief District Court Judge Linda Reade did not admit that she had sat in on raid meetings as early as October 2007.
Attorney Nathan Lewin filed a motion for a new trial Thursday.
Documents were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request filed with the Department of Homeland Security in February 2009 - prior to Rubashkin's federal trial.
Included in their conversations were:
- plans to hold detainees at the National Cattle Congress
- what charges would be filed
Reade also told agents that she was "willing to support the operation in any way possible," the documents said.
Lewin said federal law and U.S. Supreme Court rulings would have required Reade to remove herself from the trial.
Had the information been disclosed, a motion for recusal would have been filed, said Guy Cook, who represented Rubashkin in his criminal trial.
"What this means is that these new secret documents show a blurring of the line between prosecution and the court," Cook said.
Cook and his co-counsel F. Montgomery Brown did not file such a motion because Reade told them she was only involved in logistical planning of the raid, he said.
Lewin said he also considered filing a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice against Reade and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Iowa because they didn't disclose their roles in the raid planning to the defense.
Reade and officials from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Cedar Rapids were unavailable.
Rubashkin was a former manager of the Agriprocessors kosher packing plant, when ICE agents raided the plant. In all, 389 people were detained. The plant later filed for bankruptcy and was sold.