Monday, June 3, 2013

DOJ Pushes to Jail Hershberger After Jury Acquittal

Heather Callaghan
Image: Farm Food Freedom Coalition
Activist Post

Farmer Acquitted by Jury Now Threatened With Jail Time by Wisconsin Department of Justice

Just over a week ago, a heated battle went down in Baraboo, Wisconsin and farmer Vernon Hershberger received a mostly victorious verdict despite major odds stacked against him. A jury found him not guilty for three charges dealing with lack of licensing while distributing fresh foods to herd share members; and guilty for breaking a holding order when he cut the tape to feed his family and continued distributing after a 2010 raid. Agents had ruined his food by pouring blue dye into a giant bulk tank, ruined his personal food, stole his computer and files and left his family with two days' food. This guilty count still holds a penalty of one year in jail and $10,000 in fines

So, within a few days after jury acquittal, Eric Defort and Phillip Ferris, attorneys for the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ), move to have the judge revoke the terms of the original bond and jail Vernon Hershberger before his sentencing is decided. They are standing with Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), the prosecutors, with this move and still trying to twist this into a business license thing.

Let's back up the train a bit because these trials and hearings have been going on for a long time now. In January 2012 Vernon Hershberger was arraigned at the Sauk County Courthouse on four criminal misdemeanor charges for violations of the state food and dairy code; after initially appearing before Judge Guy Reynolds, he was released on a $500 bond after a January 2010 raid with the bond containing conditions he was not to violate. That's the holding order Vernon later decided to break, believing that it would be wrong to stop feeding the people who depended on that supply, including 10 children and his wife.

In March 2012, Defort and Ferris sent a letter to judge Guy Reynolds requesting a revocation of Vernon Hershberger’s release order, based on the state’s contention that Hershberger was violating terms of the release. The judge, in a court hearing in Baraboo, refused to hear the request, telling the prosecutors that he only responded to motions, not to letters. The prosecutors never followed up with a motion . . . until more than 14 months later - just after the jury acquittal. The motion was filed the morning of Friday, May 31, 2013.

The state filed its motion shortly after a Capital Times online article on Vernon Hershberger posted May 29. The motion claims “the article reflects that Hershberger admits that he violated the bail conditions ‘all along’.”

Vernon had said in the interview:
I can tell you the truth now. We never shut down. We continued to feed our community. That’s the way it continued all along.
The main conditions under the terms of Hershberger’s release were that he not:
  • sell food without a retail food establishment license
  • manufacture or process dairy products without a dairy plant license 
  • nor sell or distribute milk produced on his farm without a milk producer license
One of Hershberger’s attorneys, Elizabeth Rich, said:
This action by DATCP is disappointing because we had hoped that the verdict would trigger a re-evaluation at DATCP of its approach to enforcement in the agricultural community. The verdict offered an opportunity to open dialogue and a badly needed mending of the damaged relationship between the Department and family farms. It is unfortunate that the government has instead chosen to pursue more of the same: expensive, heavy-handed enforcement that further erodes trust of the community.
On June 3 at 1:00 p.m. there will be a telephone conference to set a date for sentencing on the hold order conviction. At that time DOJ will request a revocation of the January 2012 order releasing Hershberger, i.e. extra retroactive jail time. (see update below)

It's as though the Wisconsin Department of Justice just tuned in - I think we all knew Vernon broke the holding order, because, uhh..., that's partially why he was on trial. 

Defense attorney Glenn Reynolds (no relation to judge) plans to challenge the holding order conviction, saying:
If the jury found him not guilty on the need to have licenses, there was no legal basis for the holding order.
Does that remind you of a form of double jeopardy in a way? A form of double jeopardy is happening to Alvin Schlangen, whom we've written about and also came to the trial to support Vernon. It looks like Vernon's trials are not over....

This just in from David Gumpert:
Hershberger judge puts off motion to jail WI farmer till June 13, when sentencing hearing will be held.
I thought that this acquittal over licensing requirements would set a precedent and cause the State to back off, but now I am not so sure. Since it was a criminal trial, the results only apply to Vernon, now under further attack, and not Wisconsin herdshares in general. Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, Wisconsin Medical Society and the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation have long lobbied to quash raw milk availability. Three years ago they pressured Governor Jim Doyle to veto a bill that would have allowed limited from-the-farm sales; and three weeks later, lo and behold - Vernon gets raided! (source)

Some people have written us to disagree about juries' rights to vote by conscience in the face of aggressive victimless crime convictions and feel that Hershberger should have followed the holding order. Just a reminder about how "breaking the 'law'" served a purpose, from David Gumpert:
Hershberger holding order guilt irony: if he hadn't violated order, wouldn't have gotten criminal trial & jury that acquitted on licensing.
An interesting take and conversation on the recent developments appears at Gumpert's blog, The Complete Patient.

Look into donating at Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund to support Vernon and his family through this battering of legal aggression.

Also check out Farm Food Freedom Coalition 

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Mark McCandlish said...

I'm only guessing, but I would not be surprised to discover that Vernon Hershberger's tribulations stem not from any legitimate public food safety issue, but the market share wholesome, organic food growers represent to the big corporate farm organizations, their well-connected friends at the state and federal levels and of course GMO producers like Monsanto, whose products have been clearly shown to harm livestock and people, and according to one German study of a little less than ten years ago, are the underlying cause of honey bee colony collapse disorder.

Anonymous said...

The DOJ can't find a reason to go after bankers who forged court documents to take families' homes, can't prosecute John Corzine who stole $1.6 billion of depositors money at MF Global, can't even hear citizen's demands for the guy sitting in the president's office to show a REAL birth certificate like the law requires,


They have time and money to prosecute farmers selling milk, to prosecute people collecting rainwater on their own land and to prosecute citizens following the US Constitution.

No wonder the world is laughing at us. We deserve the ridicule. The US has become a big joke.

John C Carleton said...

We are from the government, we are here to help you.

Anonymous said...

Look at the 3-4 articles in a row at this site.

They have a glaring commonality.

The people running the system are dong all they can to convince us that up is down and right is wrong.

How obvious does it have to get for people to see that they are not in their right minds.

These people should not have positions of power.

Do they have to start executing people in the streets before people wake up.


Jehu said...

The jury made a classic error of nullification. If you're going to nullify---if you think that ANY of the charges against the defendant are unjust, you nullify ALL of them. Otherwise the government will just throw the book at him on whatever you did convict him of. Even if his guilt for the charge you did convict him of is glaringly obvious, you still vote not guilty on it. You can vote however the hell you please on a jury and you don't have to explain your decision. Who...Whom in the jury room. Why does Monsanto ever win in any case involving a jury? Or Disney?

goldhoarder said...

Jehu is exactly right. They couldn't bring themselves to embarrass their masters and threw them a bone probably thinking they would give him a slap on the wrist. People want to think the best of their masters. Sadly our masters just want to rule us with an iron fist.

Heather Callaghan said...

All great points guys - thank you!

Anonymous said...

Everyone needs to understand that the criminals that pretend to be your government are just that, criminals! Criminals cannot represent government. Extortion is a crime.

A man and his family have a right to survive. It is a right that cannot be taxed, i.e. regulated/ licensed. It is a god-given right, unless you have sold your soul to the state to acquire limited liability (escaping personal responsibility) or a perpetual lifetime as in the form/ act of incorporating. These are tricks of the master counterfeiter/ deceiver.

Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and render unto God that which is God's is just another way of saying that if you sold your soul to the devil to get what you've got give the devil his due. The state cannot force one to give up a right for a privilege, especially one's right to survive and one's right to contract.

You need to realize that government is satanic, government is organized crime. They will do everything they can to convince you that you are in the wrong. They never admit to any wrong-doing on their part.

We all need to wake up, come together, and remove these criminals from office. Educate your neighbors. The assassination of Abraham Lincoln was a regime change. Your 'government' was overthrown way back when.

Henry said...

Yes Jehu and goldhoarder are spot on! The people of the jury had a sense of fairness and projected that value onto the government, DOJ, and court system. WRONG! You must NEVER project YOUR values onto someone, especially the government. Just because you are a decent person does NOT mean that everyone else is too! But people like to think the “best” of others.

You must NEVER assume that government has values. It has only goals. Absolute control, at any price, is the main goal. The only hope is for the people to quickly learn and understand jury nullification. Jury nullification won’t last long because the government will counter it by going to secret proceedings with no jury, as they already do in Britain. Most people will applaud and cheer this move, - at least until they are the subject of a secret proceeding. But too late then.

There is a cycle of freedom. Apathy and Dependence lead to Tyranny and Slavery, which after enough suffering, finally leads to Courage and Rebellion. That yields Liberty and Freedom which creates Abundance, but only for a generation. Abundance is soon followed by Complacency, which leads right back to Apathy and Dependence.

It seems our people must suffer slavery and tyranny for several generations, until they learn to value freedom once again.

Anonymous said...

this is disgusting. the DOJ should be sued. leave this man alone. he grows food. better food than what you find in our supermarkets. we all know what this is truly about and it will stop NOW! YOU CANNOT CONTROL OUR FOOD SUPPLY! charging people money to have a 'permit' to grow and sell food goes against everything we believe in. Since our forefathers days we have grown our own food including HEMP! the greed of these times is at the end of days. this kind of behavior from our government is not acceptable. the jury told them to f off basically and they are insisting on double jeopardy which you cannot do in a 'criminal' case. absolutely shameful.

Anonymous said...

There are a lot of decent farmers in Wisconsin, and having the government single out this family indicates that there is another untold story here. Like, someone wants his property, someone wants his wife, etc. This concentration of government resources to destroy a person and family needs to be curtailed. Let the jury speak out. Let those in Wisconsin speak out. Stop the government from further harming these folk!

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