# Postville

Former Postville interpreter makes case against Stephanie Rose as judge

Last month President Barack Obama nominated Stephanie Rose, U.S. attorney for Iowa’s northern district, for a federal judgeship in Iowa’s southern district. If confirmed, Rose would become the first woman to serve as a district judge in Iowa’s southern district. Today the Des Moines Register published an opinion piece urging U.S. senators not to “rubber-stamp” Rose’s nomination.  

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Year in review: Iowa politics in 2009 (part 1)

I expected 2009 to be a relatively quiet year in Iowa politics, but was I ever wrong.

The governor’s race heated up, state revenues melted down, key bills lived and died during the legislative session, and the Iowa Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling in Varnum v Brien became one of this state’s major events of the decade.

After the jump I’ve posted links to Bleeding Heartland’s coverage of Iowa politics from January through June 2009. Any comments about the year that passed are welcome in this thread.

Although I wrote a lot of posts last year, there were many important stories I didn’t manage to cover. I recommend reading Iowa Independent’s compilation of “Iowa’s most overlooked and under reported stories of 2009,” as well as that blog’s review of “stories that will continue to impact Iowa in 2010.”

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Senate confirms new U.S. attorneys for Iowa

Yesterday the U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed Stephanie Rose and Nick Klinefeldt to be the U.S. Attorneys in Iowa’s northern and southern districts, respectively. Senator Tom Harkin recommended Rose and Klinefeldt for those positions in March, and President Barack Obama nominated them in September.

Some defense and immigration attorneys criticized Rose’s nomination because of her role in last year’s Postville prosecutions. Harkin and Senator Chuck Grassley defended Rose’s qualifications for the U.S. attorney position.

I still think the Senate Judiciary Committee should have thoroughly examined the treatment of Postville detainees before voting to confirm Rose. The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in May that “federal prosecutors have inappropriately used aggravated identity theft laws to prosecute undocumented workers.” Most of the fast-track Postville prosecutions were identity-theft cases. I sincerely hope that under Rose’s leadership, the U.S. Attorney’s office in the northern district will treat alleged illegal immigrants more fairly in the future.

Main Justice posted a short bio of Klinefeldt here and a short bio of Rose here. Those pages include links to the nominees’ full Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaires (pdf files).

Iowa's U.S. attorney nominees move to Senate floor

Iowans Nick Klinefeldt and Stephanie Rose were among three U.S. attorney nominees the Senate Judiciary Committee approved today by unanimous consent, the Main Justice blog reported. Their nominations still need to be confirmed by the full Senate, but that is likely to be a formality. In March, Senator Tom Harkin recommended Klinefeldt for the U.S. attorney position in Iowa’s southern district and Rose for the position in Iowa’s northern district. President Barack Obama nominated the two last month.

Main Justice posted a short bio of Klinefeldt here and a short bio of Rose here. Those pages include links to the nominees’ full Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaires (pdf files).

A Bleeding Heartland reader who watched today’s committee meeting tells me that Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy asked if there were any objections to the nominations, and none were raised. Senator Chuck Grassley told his colleagues that he “had interviewed both Iowa nominees –he praised Harkin’s selections and both nominees–he asked that a statement he prepared be made part of the record but did not read the statement.”

I expected the Senate Judiciary Committee to question Rose about her role in last year’s prosecutions of hundreds of undocumented workers from Postville. Harkin has defended her on the grounds that officials senior to Rose made the key policy decisions. Even so, Rose should have been asked about the cases and how they might have been handled differently. As things stand, I agree with critics who say promoting Rose without asking serious questions “would constitute a stamp of approval on the Postville debacle.”

Professor Erik Camayd-Freixas, a Spanish-language court interpreter, has spoken and written at length about injustice he observed in the aftermath of the Postville raid:

Professor Camayd-Freixas wrote that the immigrant defendants whose words he translated, most of them villagers from Guatemala, did not fully understand the criminal charges they were facing or the rights most of them had waived.

In the essay and an interview, Professor Camayd-Freixas said he was taken aback by the rapid pace of the proceedings and the pressure prosecutors brought to bear on the defendants and their lawyers by pressing criminal charges instead of deporting the workers immediately for immigration violations.

He said defense lawyers had little time or privacy to meet with their court-assigned clients in the first hectic days after the raid. Most of the Guatemalans could not read or write, he said. Most did not understand that they were in criminal court.

Click here to watch a video interview of Camayd-Freixas or download his 14-page essay about his experience with the Postville detainees. Rose may have the skills to be a good U.S. attorney, but it bothers me that the Senate Judiciary Committee has just indicated that they have no concerns or objections about last year’s events in Iowa. That’s a bad message to send to U.S. attorneys everywhere.

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Obama nominates Rose, Klinefeldt for U.S. attorney posts

A full six months after Senator Tom Harkin recommended Stephanie Rose and Nick Klinefeldt for the U.S. attorney positions in Iowa’s northern and southern districts, President Barack Obama sent Rose’s and Klinefeldt’s names to the Senate for confirmation. Radio Iowa posted the September 25 press release from the White House.

I don’t know when the Senate Judiciary Committee will take up these nominations. Some advocates have objected to Rose’s nomination because of civil liberties and due process violations in the wake of last year’s immigration raid in Postville. Senators should thoroughly explore Rose’s role in the Postville prosecutions during her confirmation hearing. Harkin’s office has defended Rose’s record and her work with the detainees from Postville.

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