Last week’s cover story about Sholom Rubashkin’s state case being expunged from the record electrified the community, triggering an outpouring of congratulatory phone calls and letters. The wave of happiness that engulfed people all over the world at the news testifies to how deeply embedded is the collective concern over Sholom’s plight and the abiding quest for justice in the long-running Rubashkin saga.
Many who confused the state case with the federal case still moving forward, rejoiced at the thought that Sholom was about to be released. Unfortunately, that is not (yet) the case. He remains incarcerated in federal prison. In another month he will have spent 2340 days behind bars, a small part of his 27-year sentence.
The status of his legal case depends on the outcome of a powerful motion presently before the Court – one of the last avenues of justice available to him in the American legal system. Many of the letters that poured in following last week’s story queried whether the expungement of state case would exert any influence over the federal one.
It goes without saying that a defendant reputed to be a villain does not stand a good chance of eliciting mercy from a judge. The view of Sholom circulated at the time of his trial as a chronic lawbreaker who exploited child labor and mistreated his workers undercut hopes of a more lenient sentence than the shocking 25 years prosecutors recommended for financial offenses. As is well-known, his sentence surpassed even that.
As the story behind the expungement of the state case against Sholom is revisited, awareness grows in many quarters that the fantastic inventions painting him as a heartless corporate boss presiding over a den of crime were never true. That image, a product of malicious slander and fantasy, unraveled at the state trial.
Although prejudice tends to die hard, one hopes the truth will gain increasing traction and mobilize efforts to support Sholom in his ongoing quest for justice, specifically regarding the 2255 Motion now before the Court. Due to special sensitivities and ongoing litigation surrounding the Motion at this juncture, that subject will be explored at a later date.