U.S. Attorney Stephanie Rose explained her role in the 2008 Postville immigration raid during a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday for her and others who have been nominated as federal judges.
Rose was nominated by President Barack Obama last month for the federal bench in the Southern District. If confirmed, she will replace Chief Judge Robert Pratt, who will retire July 1.
Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley and other senators on the committee asked more brief, general questions of all four of the nominees, including how they would handle conflict of interest or recusal standards, how being a prosecutor affects their role as a federal judge and how would they ensure every person is treated fairly.
Grassley, chairman of the committee, said he had a lengthy question, about 10 points, for Rose regarding the Postville raid and her role to clear up any misconceptions and submit it into the record for the hearing.
Rose has been criticized for the way the raid was handled or for the fast-track prosecution of the more than 350 illegal immigrants, who worked at Agriprocessors and were charged in the raid.
Rose said Wednesday she was the deputy chief of the criminal division with the U.S. Attorney's Office at the time of the raid. She said that title may be misleading because she was overseeing the "guns and drugs" cases.
She said her role in Postville was limited and she wasn't in charge of the operation. She spent two weeks in Waterloo when the prosecutions took place. She acted as a liaison between the court, defense attorneys, probation, the clerk's office and others.
Most of her time was spent on the phone coordinating, she said.
"I think I had three phones at the time and I was looking at my phone records from then and had 687 minutes in a 12 day period," Rose said.
Rose, who wasn't the U.S. Attorney at the time of the raid, said her role was mostly as a problem solver. She wasn't involved in the planning of the raid, the pre-raid ratified plea agreements or the prosecutions themselves. Most of the decision-making was coming from the U.S. Department of Justice, who had to approve the fast-track prosecutions.
Sen. Tom Harkin also gave some opening remarks regarding Rose and why he recommended her for the position. Harkin said he reviewed an unusually strong field of candidates for the position, and Rose stood out as a person of "truly outstanding intellect and character."
Harkin said Rose is a "superb" attorney, and she has a reputation as someone "unfailingly fair and ethical. It is no surprise she enjoys wide, bipartisan support from the Iowa legal community."Rose, 39, of Center Point, has worked in the U.S. Attorney’s Office since graduating from law school, one of the youngest hired at the time. She worked her way up and was appointed as U.S. attorney in 2009.