The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and National Association of
Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) have reportedly filed amicus briefs with
the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, supporting the efforts of counsel for
Sholom Rubashkin to overturn his conviction and sentence for financial fraud
at his Iowa meat processing facility. The kosher plant was raided in 2008, 389
undocumented workers were arrested, and Rubashkin was initially charged
with violating immigration laws. These charges were ultimately dropped, and
a jury acquitted him of hiring underage workers. Prosecutors then aggressively pursued charges that he falsified bank records to inflate sales and
diverted customer payments for personal use, and he was found guilty on 86
counts in November 2009.

The court sentenced Rubashkin to 27 years in prison, a term longer than
recommended by prosecutors. While the ACLU and NACDL reportedly focus
their briefs on accusations that the sentencing court improperly cooperated
with prosecutors before Rubashkin’s arrest, the Washington Legal Foundation,
joined by a number of law professors and former federal judges, argues in its
amicus brief that the sentence was unreasonably harsh and raises “important
procedural and substantive issues that arise in many white-collar sentencings.”

Rubashkin’s counsel apparently discovered after he was sentenced that the
court had undisclosed, ex parte discussions with prosecutors and immigration
officials before the raid. Rubashkin and amici contend that U.S. Immigration
and Customs Enforcement records show that the court, by discussing
charging strategies and raid logistics with prosecutors, was not impartial and
actively participated in Rubashkin’s prosecution. They call for a new judge to
hear his motion for a new trial, calling for Rubashkin to “get his day in court”
with a tribunal that is not an arm of the prosecution. See The National Law
Journal, January 29, 2011.

About The Author

For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.

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