Judge denies change of venue request for Agriprocessors trial

by Bryan Salvage
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DES MOINES, IOWA — On March 18, a federal judge denied a request by Agriprocessors Inc. and its former manager to move their trial out of Iowa because of pretrial publicity the manager's lawyer has called "inflammatory, accusatory, and one-sided," according to The Associated Press. U.S. District Court Chief Judge Linda Reade said that, for now, Agriprocessors Inc. and former manager Sholom Rubashkin are able to get a fair trial in Iowa.

The judge said there is a substantial gap between the bad press in the case and the trial scheduled for September. But she added the company and Mr. Rubashkin presented some media reports that "are troubling and bolster" their arguments and she acknowledged pretrial publicity could intensify as the trial approaches.

Ms. Reade said she will allow the change of venue issue to be raised again when jury questionnaires are returned.

Mr. Rubashkin, the former manager of the Agriprocessors plant in Postville, Iowa, had asked that his trial be moved from the Northern District of Iowa in Cedar Rapids to Minneapolis or Chicago. He faces approximately 100 charges, including immigration violations along with bank fraud and money laundering charges. Agriprocessors, which also faces nearly 100 charges, joined in the motion for a change of venue last month.

Charges against the company, Mr. Rubashkin and others followed a May 12, 2008 immigration raid at the plant, then the nation's largest kosher slaughterhouse. Agents arrested 389 people.

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