Monday, August 11, 2008

Postville Update: ACLU Uncovers PROOF of Justice Denied in Speedy Cattle Barn Trials!

The truth has come to light and is now before a Congressional Hearing! The ACLU has uncovered the Government "manual" distributed to Iowa defense lawyers to commit their swift cattle barn injustice in Postville. Workers were hauled to Cattle Barns. The judge and the prosecutor agreed to the prescripted hearings and preordained guilty pleas. Lawyers were handed the scripts and told to support dozens of clients, with little to no preparation but the scripts. End Result: Guilty Verdicts and Injustice for All!
The New York Times reports: (summary)
The legal blueprint for those extraordinarily swift proceedings (in Postville) has come to light, and it is raising questions about the close collaboration in the months before the raid between the federal court in Iowa and the prosecutors who pressed the charges. The blueprint is a 117-page compendium of scripts, laying out step by step the hearings that would come after the raid at the Agriprocessors plant in Postville, Iowa, the largest immigration enforcement operation ever carried out at a single workplace. The documents suggest that the court had endorsed the prosecutors’ drive to obtain the guilty pleas even before the hearings began. The scripts included a model of the guilty pleas that prosecutors planned to offer as well as statements to be made by the judges when they accepted the pleas and handed down sentences. This was the Postville prosecution guilty-plea machine,” said Lucas Guttentag, director of the Immigrants’ Rights Project of the A.C.L.U. “The entire process seemed to presume and be designed for fast-track guilty pleas.”
One defense lawyer who received the scripts from prosecutors on the day of the raid said he became convinced that the hearings had been organized to produce guilty pleas for the prosecution. As a result, the lawyer, Rockne Cole, declined to represent any of the arrested immigrants and “walked out in disgust,” he wrote in a letter to a Congressional subcommittee that is scrutinizing the raid and the legal proceedings that followed. Mr. Cole wrote that he was most dismayed to see that the scripts specified the particular plea agreements that would be offered to the defendants. “What I found most astonishing,” he wrote, “is that apparently Chief Judge Reade had already ratified these deals prior to one lawyer even talking to his or her client.” The hearings were conducted in emergency courtrooms set up in the National Cattle Congress, a fairground in Waterloo. Magistrate judges took guilty pleas from immigrants in groups of 10, then the immigrants were immediately sentenced, five at a time. Only a handful of the workers, mostly illegal immigrants from Guatemala, had prior criminal records. The scripts specified that prosecutors would offer a particular type of plea agreement that leaves no discretion to judges to raise or lower sentences. Some defense and immigration lawyers said the inclusion of these plea agreements was a sign of overly close cooperation between the court and prosecutors. “Here you have a court communicating with one side and not the other about substantive issues,” said Robert R. Rigg, a Drake University law professor who is president of the Iowa Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. “The court had bound itself to the agreement before the plea was accepted.” Professor Rigg and other legal scholars said such plea agreements were generally negotiated between prosecutors and defense lawyers after a defendant was charged, and were later approved by the judge. The rule governing the plea bargaining says, “The court must not participate in these agreements.”


dianne said...

I'm sure you read the testimony of the judges and officials in Iowa who say these types of scripts are standard fare in the State. The bottom line is it was the responsibility of the defense attorneys to make sure their clients understood the charges.

One cannot dispute the fact they were here illegally, no matter what the ACLU says.

dianne said...

I mean how hard is are charged with identity theft. Identity theft means you have used a document...blah blah blah...which is well defined according TO THE LAW. You may or may not accept the sentence. If you do not...blah blah blah. If you do blah blah blah.

I'm sick of this catering to someone who pretends he doesn't understand when it suits him but I more angry with defense attorneys who PRETEND they don't understand. It's b.s.

Liquidmicro said...

I think this comment left by a poster on Latina Lista, about this very topic, puts it all into perspective:

juancarodster :

Did you read through this manual? Quite frankly, this is making a mountain out of a molehill. I'm a former federal prosecutor and defendants are routinely given these types of forms (indictment waivers, detention waivers, consent to plead before magistrate, etc.) everytime they walk into magisrate court. The rest of the docs in the manual recite the criminal elements of the offenses with which the defendants are charged. There are also copies of the applicable statutes. Quite frankly, I think the use of this manual is both efficient and fair. It allows the defendant's attorney to have all the information up front about the criminal charges. It also shows eveyone involved what the government position is and where the proceeding is going. There is no hiding the ball from the defendant, so to speak.

As for the speed of these hearings and the creation of makeshift courts, are you aware that along the southwest border for years it routinely occurred that alien defendants charged with violating the immigration laws were processed through group hearings comprised of 25 defendants or more? What's new is the expansion of these proceedings to areas north of the border.

Furthermore, because they are in the midst of criminal proceeding, all of these defendants were appointed counsel. If they pleaded guilty without adequately understanding the charges, or without actually being guilty, then where are the complaints against the defense attorneys for not doing their job and standing up for their clients' best interests? Where are the ACLU lawyers? Why don't they take these cases pro bono and slow the process down by asking for bail hearings and fighting the charges?

Finally, let me say that I too disagree with this whole process. I think the charges are cowardly and are meant mostly to just garner a quick conviction. That doesn't mean I think that the charges are unfounded. If you read over the elements and law in the manual again, I think it's clear that the government has a case and would likely prevail if forced to prosecute its charges. The intent element that you comment on is not as steep of a burden that you make it out to be.

That these people can be charged with these offenses is a different question, however, from whether they should be so charged. I don't think they should be charged in this manner and think that the charges are chickenshit. Still, it's intellectually dishonest to suggest that the charges are unfounded.

Liquidmicro said...

Your headline is incorrect as usual, it should read as follows:

Postville Update: ACLU Uncovers ALLEGATIONS of Justice Denied in Speedy Cattle Barn Trials!

Dee said...

Justice denied is Justice denied. Your references are purely opinions. The ACLU has provided sufficient evidence to prove their position.

Liquidmicro said...

The ACLU right now has nothing more than allegations, they have proof of nothing. It is their opinion that what was done was wrong. Nothing is proof as of yet, its all mere opinion.

Dee said...

Liquid, The one thing you have, and I like, is the passion behind your OPINION!! Facts lacking.

patriot said...

I would add my two cents worth but liquid you and dianne have already done a fine job of pointing out once again that allegations are not proof. It is always wishful thinking and the usual melodramatics on dee's part and convictions before the total truth is out.

Liquidmicro said...

Dee says:
"Facts lacking."

What facts are lacking? The ACLU has no 'facts'. There whole argument is that these trials were choreographed from beginning to end and that those prosecuted were given the choice of a speedy trial in which they plead guilty and get a sentence of 5 months or if they wish to argue a case they could be here and in jail for up to 2 years before they may even be heard.

"“This was the Postville prosecution guilty-plea machine,” said Lucas Guttentag, director of the Immigrants’ Rights Project of the A.C.L.U. “The entire process seemed to presume and be designed for fast-track guilty pleas.”"

Whats even more amazing is that they were given 7 days to choose what they wished to plead.

"As has been widely reported, the U.S. Attorney’s Office offered seven-day “exploding”
plea agreements to all defendants. Under this practice, each defendant was compelled to decide
whether to accept the offer within seven days. Under the standard plea offer, defendants in the
majority of cases were required to decide whether to plead guilty to knowingly using a false
Social Security number under 42 U.S.C. § 408(a)(7)(B) or knowingly using a false employment
document under 18 U.S.C. § 1546(a), with a possible sentence of probation or five months
incarceration, or be charged with “aggravated identify theft” under 18 U.S.C. § 1028(A)(a)(1)
and face a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison. Under the circumstances of
Postville, with multiple defendants represented by a single lawyer, complex immigration issues,
and significant language, educational and cultural barriers, the extreme time limit made adequate
legal defense, investigation and counseling almost impossible. Within days, defendants routinely
waived all of their rights—including their right to indictment, to court reporters, to review the
pre-sentence investigation report, and to appeal their convictions and sentences—and pled guilty,
the vast majority with a judicial order of deportation, pursuant to Section 238(c)(5) of the
Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), that makes any further immigration relief impossible."

Bob said...

An old adage in law reads, "Justice delayed is justice denied."

These illegal aliens are getting prompt and efficient justice. The ACLU, once again, is attempting to divert justice in favor of their political agenda.

Dee said...

Long time no see.
You know, of course, they put leg bracelets on most of the women arrested and they are delaying the next steps and keeping them in limbo, tied to their houses, caring for their children but No jobs. No money. No food. No prison. No deportation. Justice very delayed.

patriot said...

Don't do the crime if you can't pay the fine or do the time.

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