Saturday, June 12, 2010

Charging Many Counts Can Result in Hearing the Words "Not Guilty" Many Times

Sholom Rubashkin, the manager of a kosher meat plant in Iowa, had been unsuccessful in federal court as he was found guilty of bank fraud and related charges resulting from a raid premised on illegal immigration. He awaits sentencing in that case (see background here).  But the same result is not seen on the state side in charges that came from the federal case, albeit different allegations.  Following a five-week trial (yes - five weeks), he was found not guilty of 67 counts (yes - 67 counts) of child labor.   What is particularly noteworthy here is that he was initially charged with 9,311 counts of child labor violations as the state had charged a separate criminal charge for each day of the 31 minors alleged in the case. Prior to trial they reduced this to 67 counts and the judge granted a directed verdict as to 16 of these counts. This was not an easy case for the defense as the court's instructions included a mistake of fact instruction that stated that any mistaken belief in the age of the workers had to "be because of a good faith reasonable belief" and that the defendant "must inquire or determine what is true when to do so would be reasonable under the circumstances." A change of venue had been granted in this case, but it remained in Iowa where jurors may have been aware of the federal case. Despite these obstacles for the defense, the jury returned not guilty verdicts. The defendant was represented by Mark E. Weinhardt and Holly Logan of Belin McCormick, PC (Des Moines, Iowa) and F. Montgomery Brown of Brown Scott, PLC (West Des Moines, Iowa). 
 
 
(esp) (blogging from Marseille, France)

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/whitecollarcrime_blog/2010/06/non-guilty-in-state-court.html

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