Rubashkin trial underway
BLOG POST BY JENS KROGSTAD • Des Moines Register
Several people from St. Bridget’s Catholic Church in Postville are on-hand to show support for the Guatemalan witnesses expected to testify today.
The prosecution alleges Agriprocessors employed them as minors at the kosher slaughterhouse in Postville, where they worked excessive hours and were exposed to poisonous chemicals and dangerous machinery.
The plant was the site of a May 2008 raid in which federal agents arrested hundreds of workers. It later filed for bankruptcy and now operates under a different owner. The Catholic church played a key role in providing food and shelter to the families of workers arrested in the raid.
Here is the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier's live blog:
Jeff Reinitz: up and running. Waiting for court to start. Jurors are drifting in. Both state and defense teams are in. Sholom Rubashkin entered a few minutes ago.
Jeff Reinitz: Judge Nathan Callan enters. Jury still out.
Jeff Reinitz: CALLAHAN: talking about defense's motion in limini and state response. regarding statements jury can/can't hear.
Jeff Reinitz: DEFENSE ATTORNEY MARK WEINHARDT: elements of offense are clear and simple .... minor workers exposed to 5 conditions.
Jeff Reinitz: WEINHARDT: agree they worked at slaughter house. other charges deal with hours worked, use o hoists or other motorized machinery. these deal with workers under age 16
Jeff Reinitz: WEINHARDT: the only other issue is Sholom Rubashkin's intent.
Jeff Reinitz: WEINHARDT: state is trying to go beyond that. They want to try a case about 389 undocumented aliens. about if the minors had enough training, about if they were paid enough.
Jeff Reinitz: WEINHARDT: The state wants to try an OSHA case. nothing to do with the case. Should be limited to the statutory elements in the charges. No an OSHA, wage case
Jeff Reinitz: WEINHARDT: (going over case law)
Jeff Reinitz: WEINHARDT: We are going to argue that child labor is regulatory offenses, and knowing and willful definition applies, (state would have a higher bar to clear)
Jeff Reinitz: WEINHARDT: The state is trying to say there were all these undocumented aliens in the plant, and it was part of a grand scheme where Sholom R. closes his eyes and ignores the quailty of documents they are using to get jobs. ...
Jeff Reinitz: WEINHARDT: state then argues that if he's closing his eyes to that, he isn't checking their dates of births.
Jeff Reinitz: WEINHARDT: The immigration case is the dog, and the child labor case is the tail. They are trying to use the dog to predominate the tail.
Jeff Reinitz: WEINHARDT: Undocumented alien part of this case has no place in this case.
Jeff Reinitz: WEINHARDT: We think state plans to introduce evidence of injuries, people being called names.
Jeff Reinitz: WEINHARDT: Mr. Rubashkin isn't on trial for how the plant was run, how people got paid, if people got hurt. He's on trial to see if he knew tand allowed children to work in the plant.
Jeff Reinitz: STATE: Evidence shows a common scheme or plan
Jeff Reinitz: STATE: Court can provide jury with instruction on how to use this evidence.
Jeff Reinitz: STATE: these are connected crimes. We believe it is relevant and appropriate evidence.
Jeff Reinitz: STATE: The charged crimes are more hanious
Jeff Reinitz: ... than the immigration case.
Jeff Reinitz: (NOTE: federal immigration case against Rubashkin was dropped after a federal jury convicted him of fraud in connection with loans made to Agriprocessors)
Jeff Reinitz: STATE: This was a corupt business plan that didn't work unless the company employed illegal immigrants.
Jeff Reinitz: JUDGE CALLAHAN: good this motion came up. I'm not interested in what happened in federal court.
Jeff Reinitz: JUDGE CALLAHAN: not interested in having prior jury finding coming up. This case has to live on its own merits.