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Rabbis Call for Release of Jewish CEO

Bernie Madoff should feel fortunate that he doesn't live in Iowa. Yesterday, Southern District of New York Magistrate Judge Ronald Ellis rejected the government's motion to jail Madoff pending trial, merely imposing new restrictions to keep him from mailing any more valuables to family and friends, reports the New York Law Journal. But in Dubuque, Iowa, another Jewish defendant remains incarcerated pending trial because of concerns that he might avail himself of the "law of return" and flee to Israel if released on bail. 

As explained by the Iowa Independent, Israel's Law of Return provides citizenship to any Jew and members of his family who express a desire to settle in the country. Iowa Judge Jon Scoles cited the law of return as a consideration in his decision to keep former Agriprocessors CEO Sholom Rubashkin, who stands accused of bank fraud and immigration charges, locked up pending trial. Scoles' decision has drawn criticism from rabbis and Jewish groups who believe that the judge improperly assumed that Rubashkin was more likely to be a flight risk because, as a Jew, he could take advantage of the Law of Return to flee the country before trial. But prosecutors argue that they presented additional evidence to suggest that Rubashkin was a flight risk, including a suitcase filled with money -- which Rubashkin claims was charity for Purim, a Jewish holiday).

For previous discussion of this issue, see Volokh and Simple Justice.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on January 13, 2009 at 05:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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