Rubashkin's lawyers ask for review of testimony
By GRANT SCHULTE, Des Moines Register
A former executive at a Postville slaughterhouse wants an independent review of the grand jury testimony used to indict him on 97 federal charges.
Lawyers for Sholom Rubashkin asked a judge today to open the confidential transcripts to a University of Iowa psychology professor, described in court records as an expert in how juries function.
Defense lawyers plan to call Mollie W. Marti – a psychologist and lawyer – as an expert witness in their effort to dismiss the charges, said Guy Cook, a member of Rubashkin’s legal team.
Rubashkin’s lawyers have argued that “improper testimony and conduct” influenced a federal grand jury’s decision to indict him last year. Their criticism, however, was sealed from the public to protect the private jury hearing.
Federal prosecutors disagreed and said Cook’s description of the grand jury testimony was inaccurate.
Rubashkin, a former vice president at Agriprocessors, Inc., was first arrested in October on immigration, bank fraud and other charges. The indictment, coupled with state and other federal charges, followed a May immigration raid on the kosher meatpacking plant.
In the motion, defense lawyers said they would advise Marti “of her obligation to ensure the secrecy of this material is preserved.”
The request is unusual, because grand jury testimony is almost always kept private. In a response letter, Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Deegan said he opposed the defense motion and had already provided the transcript to Rubashkin’s legal team.
“We maintain that there is no evidence of bias in the grand jury record,” Deegan wrote. “Should the court agree, we believe your proposed disclosure for the purpose of proving prejudice would be unnecessary.”
Deegan also questioned the value of expert testimony from Marti, as it relates to the case.
“This request is quite different,” Deegan wrote. “You are asking to disclose grand jury testimony to someone who would not otherwise be privy to such information.”
Even if a judge agrees to dismiss the charges, Cook said prosecutors may have the option to convene a new grand jury and re-file an indictment.
This is what Chabad's $5 million dollars for attorneys and PR can buy – and it just might work. Why?
Because the US Attorney doesn't seem to have a handle on this case. He has consistently gone for the easy charges, and has – so far, at least – ignored other crimes (and other Rubashkins). And he has done so in a heavy-handed fashion that Rubashkin's team has been able to spin as antisemitism and bias.
The cheap and easy route works in 90% of cases. But it doesn't work in Mob trials and in high profile cases when the defense has a ton of money and legal talent.
For all practical purposes, what the feds have to deal with here is both.
If they do not begin to treat this prosecution like they would treat John Gotti's, they'll probably lose. And it may already be too late for the US Attorney to do anything about it.