Lawyers are seeking a new trial for the man convicted of fraud in connection with his management of a kosher meatpacking plant in Postville. Lawyers for Sholom Rubashkin accuse the judge who presided over Rubashkin’s trial of helping to plan the 2008 immigration raid that led to Rubashkin’s arrest. 

“Judge (Linda) Reade engaged in all these meetings with the prosecutors, she expressed support for the raid, she was present at meetings where strategies were discussed, and then she asked for a report on how the operation was going to be carried out,” says Nathan Lewin, Rubashkin’s attorney.  “And, ultimately, she concealed all this.”

Lewin says Rubaskin’s legal team didn’t know of Reade’s role in the raid before he was found guilty on 86 counts of fraud last fall.  According to Lewin, Rubaskin’s legal team discovered Reade played a role in the raid from documents they got in a “Freedom of Information” request.

“Under the legal standards that the Supreme Court has established, she would be disqualified and that means, because she would be disqualified, that the entire trial gets wiped out and we’re back to square one,” Lewin says. 

Lewin says Rubaskin’s legal team may file an ethics complaint against the judge, but for now their focus is on getting their client a new trial.

Judge Linda Reade is the chief judge in the U.S. District Court’s Northern Iowa District.  In June, she sentenced Rubaskin to 27 years in prison and ordered him to pay $27 million in restitution.  He was convicted last fall of 86 counts of financial fraud, including failure to make timely payments to farmers who delivered livestock to the plant.