Blog post by Jens Krogstad • Des Moines Register
4:05 p.m., Waterloo, Ia. — Prosecution has finished its rebuttal. Miller ended with this.
“We all want to live in a country in which our laws are obeyed, in which children to work in slaughterhouses, in which children out of poverty aren’t exploited for profit.”
“I urge to find the defendant guilty on all counts.”
4:00 p.m., Waterloo, Ia. — Jury is back. One of the jurors is ill, but is toughing it out.
Deputy Iowa Attorney General Thomas H. Miller said said there’s no direct evidence that Sholom Rubashkin allowed minors to work at the plant. However, he said the plant managers’ actions suggested an orchestrated effort to conceal minors from labor investigators in April 2008.
He said the defense made an offensive argument when it said Caucasians have trouble determining the ages of native Guatemalans.
“It was disappointing that in the year 2010 in an Iowa courtroom that it would be suggested to you that a white adult cannot gauge the ages of a brown child,” he said.
Miller said he’s never seen anyone more nervous in on the witness stand than Gary Norris, a former Agriprocessors manager who is still employed at the plant under new ownership.
The two controversial supervisors, Matthew Derrick and Mark Spangler, weren’t alone in their testimony that minonrs obviously worked at the plant, Miller argued.
Miller pushes back on the credibility, or lack thereof, of some of the alleged child laborers, who repeatedly lied about their identities.
“You can choose not to believe a word that they said. I’ll ask you to believe your own eyes. These were a bunch of kids,” he said.
He noted most of the kids were rounded up during a day shift on the day of the raid. That left many more child laborers unaccounted for during the night shift, according to witness testimony.
“Where they are, how many they are – we cannot know,” he said.
“This defendant was all too willing to exploit their culture and poverty to keep his business running. It may not be true in Guatemala or southeast Asia, but in Iowa we have a law against that,” he said.
3:00 p.m., Waterloo, Ia. — The judge has called a break during the prosecution’s rebuttal to the defense’s closing argument. Here’s a summary of what’s been said in the last hour:
Sholom Rubashkin was on notice that his plant was filled with illegal minor employees, the prosecution argued.
In rebutting the defense’s closing argument this afternoon, Deputy Iowa Attorney General Thomas H. Miller said the former Agriprocessors executive repeatedly shrugged off accusations of minors in his plant instead of investigating them. And when he was caught, Miller said, Rubashkin passed the buck.
“Sholom Rubashkin was the CEO,” he said. “There’s a phrase, ‘The buck stops here.’”
“With that title, there’s a responsibility for what transpires in that facility.”
Miller said the defense attempted to cast blame on unions, PETA, liberal Jews and conservative Jews. Quite the conspiracy,” he said.
Miller conceded that an underground illegal immigration railroad existed. He argued the slaughterhouse was the terminal and “everybody at Agriprocessors knew it.”
Miller argued that while Rubashkin isn’t responsible for the poverty in Guatemala, he exploited the culture and poverty of those who came to work at the plant.
“It’s ironic that the Mexican and Guatemalan communities knew Postville was where illegal minors could go to work, but nobody in Postville knew,” he said.
A Jewish mother and a young man testified they tried to get jobs for minors, but were refused, sometimes by Rubashkin himself, Miller reminded the jury.
“I do think that it is less than coincidence that no one from the yeshiva was employed underage, and yet the 8th and 9th grade classes in Postville were a feeder to that plant,” Miller said.
Miller did not address the controversial testimony of Matthew Derrick. Instead he concentrated on the one supervisor without a rap shett who offered incriminating evidence.
He reminded the jury Brian Griffith testified when he raised concerns about minors he was told that was how things worked and “these people come here to do a job and we expect them to do it.”
“That’s how you run a slaughterhouse. It’s not an easy place to work. You don’t mollycoddle the workers, but you also don’t hire children,” he said.
Miller detailed a game between Rubashkin’s lawyers at Nyemaster Goode lawfirm in Des Moines and the Iowa Department of Labor in April 2008. The prosecution argues Agriprocessors resisted a subpoena by stalling for 31 days before the May 12, 2008 immigration raid.
Here, courtesy of the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, are the instructions the jury will use during deliberations. These are all PDF files: