Latest Updates

23
March

Min Hamaitzar Parshas Vayikra

Posted by Emes on March 23, 2012

To download click here.

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15
March

Min Hamaitzar Parshas Vayakel Pekudai

Posted by Emes on March 15, 2012

To download click here.

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15
March

“Someone” Is Lying

Posted by Emes on March 15, 2012

There was a hearing this past week on Capital Hill, someone lied about Postville and I think I know who it was….

From the Des Monies Register (for the full article click here), 

“Stephanie Rose, now the United States attorney for the Northern District of Iowa, has been nominated to be the next federal judge in the Southern District of Iowa.

Federal judge nominee Stephanie Rose stressed today that she wasn’t the lead decision-maker in the Postville raid case, an unprecedented and controversial mass prosecution that has never been repeated.

Rose said she was the deputy criminal chief in the prosecutor’s office, but there were others above her in the chain of command, including Matt Dummermuth, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa at the time.

Rose, 39, is currently under consideration to be the next federal judge in the Southern District of Iowa – a lifetime position.

During a hearing on her nomination today, Rose said she wanted to clarify that she was simply a liaison between the prosecutor’s office and the defense attorneys, court clerks, federal agents and others tied to the prosecution of about 300 illegal immigrant meatpacking plant workers in 2008.

“My role was really as a key problem solver,” she told four senators on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington, D.C. on today.

Many of the Agriprocessors workers were charged with identity theft, a heavy-duty felony. Critics have blasted the way the defendants were sent assembly-line style through the court system, in such a rapid fashion that the workers had little chance to consider their options.

Within 10 days of the arrests, the judge had taken plea deals for 297 people. Eventually, 306 pleaded guilty. Most ended up with charges of using false immigration documents to obtain work, and were sentenced to five months in prison.

“All 306 who we charged during those days did plead guilty. There was not a single trial held,” Rose said.

There has never been a case where so many workers from a workplace raid were prosecuted en masse – and the justice department has not repeated it since.

Asked what involvement Rose had with the planning of the raid, or with the plea agreements, Rose answered: “None.”….”

So, Ms Rose claims she had no involvement (or specific knowledge of) in any “pre” or “post” raid activities.

Well lets take a look at a letter written by Mr Rockne Cole to congress right after the raid describing what he saw as very troubling . As he correctly points out he had nothing to gain only to lose by speaking out against Judge  Reede and the DA’s office, after all he had to face these people in court in order to make a living.

Here are 3 excerpts from his longer 4 page letter, which you should read in its entirety by clicking here.

***********************

************

So, someone is lying and I think I know who it is…

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24
February

Min Hamaitzar Parshas Terumah – We Are Back!!!

Posted by Emes on February 24, 2012

Due to a bit of technical diffeculties we have been away from our site for a bit but we are back and we continue with regular posting IYH.

For this week we have the Min Hamaitzar to read and download (and share) click here

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26
January

State Trial Audio – Special Agent Eric Spalding

Posted by Emes on January 26, 2012

Before we get back to the testimony of the minor workers lets hear from Special Agent Eric Spalding of  ICE.

Many have asked good questions about the motives of the minors and those who supported them.

Questions such as,”why would these kids lie at this point, especially about things such as injury and abuse at the plant” ? ”Why all the questions about things told to the minors by their lawyer and the Church in Postville”? and others.

Well it turns out, as Special Agent Spalding will tell us, by giving such testimony the minors could be eligible for a “U-Visa”.

A “U-Visa” (as he will describe) is a special Visa issued to victims of certain crimes that are in the country illegally that allows them and all their immediate family (a point the state “forgets” to point out) to live in the US for 4 years. While here they, the applicant as well as the family members can work in the country and can legally apply for permanent status to stay in the country forever.

Due to the nature of the Visa (what it allows once granted) it is a very sought after Visa. The government is very picky about giving such Visas. Even though there is a “cap” on how many U-Visas are issued annually (the cap is 10,000) the Government issues only about half  each year.

So by saying that they where the victim of some crime in Agriprocessors and helping the state in its prosecution of Sholom Rubashkin the minors would make themselves eligible for a U-Visa, thereby obtaining the long sought after dream (for themselves and their entire family) of being part of this great country. All they had to do was play the victim and ignore the fact that they had paid money, risked their lives, and lied to anyone they had to in order to get the job!

So by calling Special Agent Spalding the state was trying to get ahead of what they knew would be a tough sell. The fact that each minor who testified had a real good reason to lie.

Once again from listening to just the question and answer posed by the State you will miss out on key issues that the state knew would not be favorable to their case an therefor chose to ignore.

“Never let the facts get in the way of a good story”

To listen to Ms Roan for the State click here (aprox 10:00)

Ed Note: Funny how she doesn’t ask which crimes suffered make one eligible. (I will give you hint as to why, most normal people would never in a million years put those kids in that category) I will post the list in the comments section (WARNING: parts of the list is not kid friendly).

To listen to Mr Weinhardt for the Defense click here (aprox 11:00)

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25
January

State Trial Audio – Brian Griffith

Posted by Emes on January 25, 2012

There were precious few people who testified that while they worked in the plant they knew that minors were employed there as well. One of the few who testified that  he did know was Brian Griffith. Brian ran the “Kosher Boning” department in Agri and claimed to have 2 employees that he knew to be under 18.

Did he tell anyone? What was the reaction he got? Do we finally have a real (not a “he could have/should have seen them”) connection between all this madness and Sholom Rubashkin? What happened when the investigators for the state came to search the plant some time before the raid?

For the answers to all these questions and much more take a listen to his testimony.

Lets just say his answers make for some  interesting listening no matter how you cut it.  I think it also gives a good look into how strong/real a case the state thought they had against Sholom(as this was one of their “stronger” witnesses).

If you enjoy drama this is for you.

To hear Mr Miller for the state click here (aprox 12:10 )

Ed note: Listen to the defense and see if you get the same story or if there are some key details the state “forgot” to ask about….

To hear Mr Weinhardt for the defense click here (aprox 12:12)

Ed note: Amazing how the whole picture changes, pretty cool stuff isn’t it.

One of the most widely accepted lies (sorry for not being PC, just calling it as I see it) spread about Agri by many sources in the (by the) media (the UFCW, Forward just to name a few) was that Agri  did not care about worker safety and didn’t have safety equipment for its employees. As a supervisor, Mr Griffith was a great person to ask in order to get to the bottom of the issue. To listen to the answers and hear a description of  the safety gear click here (aprox 5:30)

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20
January

State Trial Audio – Mark Spangler

Posted by Emes on January 20, 2012

Our next witness is where things start getting a bit interesting.

Meet Mark Spangler.

Mark was the night poultry manager in Agri during 2005 and 2006, he wore a “orange hat” and everyone working at night reported to him. His testimony gets interesting before he even steps foot in the courtroom because of his past and (at the time) current legal issues. Seems Mr Spangler had prior convictions for theft and parole violation among other things (for a complete list listen below) and was in fact coming to the courtroom to testify from jail due to a 2 year old warrant that was enforced when he reentered the state to testify.

Prior to his testimony there was a discussion regarding what parts of his checkered past was relevant for the jury to hear. The state argued that only 2 of his past convictions (both for petty theft) should be allowed to be presented to the jury as a indication of his character and believability. As for the fact that he was coming from jail the state argued that because it was a matter that was already settled (he received 10 days in jail) it was no longer a issue that could be used to impeach him.

The defense argued that what the jury needed to hear about was  his pattern of abusing alcohol, breaking the law and being dishonest with the court, how can the jury trust that he is telling the court  the truth when he is coming from jail for not keeping his word to the very same court?!?! They also pointed out that the “petty theft” that the state had mentioned was actually a plea deal he made on what started as a charge of first degree grand larceny over the theft of $100,000 (I’m sure it just slipped her mind).   But more importantly they argued he had been fired before 2007 and therefor had nothing to do with (and couldn’t know about) anything that may have happened during the time period relevant to the  complaint.

The judge ruled as follows.

  • With regards to what can be told to the jury, he agreed with the state that only the 2 petty theft convictions could be brought up but he would allow the defense to ask him from where he was coming in order to testify.
  • As for the time frame he ruled that if he was going to testify about about a pattern of  overlooking such records ( worker age etc) then we would allow it. But if he was going testify to the tune of “jee, this happened before on a different occasion” then thats something he would preclude.

Take a listen.

To listen to the discussion (that the jury did not hear) about Mr Spanglers past click here (aprox 12:00)

To hear Mr Miller for the state click here (aprox )

Ed note: In the warrant used for the raid the government ”informant” said that the workers had different color hats based on if they where legal or not, if they where paid on the books or not etc. Funny how the state of Iowa knew that but the fedarel Govenment didnt, oh wait……  Loved his use of the word “sometimes” whenever a bit of “stretching” was needed. That “high school gym” comment will come in to play a little later in the trial stay tuned.

To hear Mr Brown for the defense click here (aprox 5:30)

Ed note: He saw Sholom only twice in a year and this somehow supposed to implicate Sholom. We included the recross of Mr Spangler in the defense clip due to how short it is.

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19
January

Min Hamaitzar Parshas Vo’aira

Posted by Emes on January 19, 2012

To download this weeks Min Hamaitzar click here.

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19
January

State Trial Audio – Laura Althouse

Posted by Emes on January 19, 2012

We are going to continue with non-minor testimony and hear from Laura Althouse. Laura ran payroll for the plant and as such worked in the Human Resources department or HR.

The charges against Sholom first and foremost had to do with the fact that the minors worked in the plant and that the hours they worked under Iowa law was excessive for minors (the hazard charges can only be true if they worked there). As is the case with any charge brought against anyone, each charge has to be proven individually. The State sought to establish employment and the hours worked by each minor by going through payroll records.

Just to note, Laura had a procedure done on her neck/throt that effects her vocal cords and her voice is very raspy as a result. Most of her testimony is clear(ish) but I will highlight the major points just in case you cant make it all out.

For the audio of Mr Miller for the state of Iowa click here (aprox 9:30)

Highlights:

  • For the most part she explains her employment background and how the clock in and out system worked at the plant.
  • She also explains what details where kept as part of payroll and how the hours where adjusted for payment.

Ed Note: Because the state has to prove that each minor worked there, the state had to spend close to 10 minutes asking her if packet of payroll documents was for that individual worker. We left in one so you get the idea but cut out the other 33. You can get a idea of the length involved just hearing the judge read the numbers of each “exhibit” .

For audio of Mr Weinhardt for the Defense click here (aprox 6:46)

The defense used the opportunity to debunk a lot of the “misinformation” (I think that’s the PC way to say lies) about Agri.

Highlights:

  • For starters she explains that just because a worker showed up and punched in at 5:30 AM for a 6:00 AM shift that does not mean that he was paid for that extra half hour. The same would apply to the end of the day and punching out. In other words workers got paid only for the time they where hired to work, not for the hours they chose to be at the plant. (ed: I think this is called “Gang Time”)
  • She also explains that everyone was paid overtime (after 40 hours workers where paid a time and half ) and would receive bonuses for good attendance and the like. (This charge was a widely spread “misinformation” (wink wink) in the media about the plant and was till this point excepted as fact.)
  • Lastly she pointed out that supervisors didn’t punch in they had to “sign in” at the security gate. The importance of this will be made clear with a different witness.

Ed Note: After listening to the workers (never mind the press) claiming to have worked 10-12 hours a day it was great to hear them talk a bit about how long each shift was. The one they where discussing here ran from 6:00 AM to 3:00 PM (that’s 9 hours for those keeping count) not factoring in 2 paid breaks (15 min each) and lunch (30 min-unpaid). For that week (in this case 4 days) he had worked 32 and a quarter hours, 32/4=8. So the worker was hired to work 8 to 9+(depending on the shift) hours and if they worked more it was because they wanted to, might have had something to do with the overtime that was paid.

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13
January

State Trial Audio – Don Peddy OSHA

Posted by Emes on January 13, 2012

We will take a break from the minor workers as they did in court (we will try and present the audio in chronological order as best we can) and hear from Mr Don Peddy of OSHA.

OSHA is a government agency that is charge of overseeing safety and health in the workplace. They do regular audits and reports on most producers in the country that include everything from chemicals to electric socket covers (think health inspectors but for worker safety).

In this case, since part of the charges against Sholom Rubashkin where that the minors had been exposed to different dangers, among them dangerous chemicals, the state brought in Mt Peddy to talk about the dangers of the different chemicals found in meat packing plants and as such in Agriprocessors as well. This is also why you hear the state ask each minor if they work around different dangers, but they still needed to prove that these chemicals (like bleach) are considered legal ”dangers”

His testimony is clear (although a bit boring) and makes for a great listen if you enjoy (or understand) chemicals.

State of Iowa Click Here (aprox min)

Mark Weinhardt for the Defense Click Here (aprox min)

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