|Unlikely friends? Vernon, wife, jurors|
If you’ve been paying attention to the details of Vernon Hershberger’s trial, the bigger picture is completely insane. The final result was a less punitive fine of $1,000 and $513 in court costs that a supporter covered on Vernon’s sentencing day. He was found not guilty on three criminal charges relating to lack of licensing to distribute fresh foods, and guilty on the last count of breaking a food holding order. The jury members, however, are feeling jilted.
Listen to their own words:
Hat’s off to author David Gumpert for always being there when a farmer like Vernon is on the stand – and we can always count on him to pick up all the interesting nuances that often get overlooked in news stories.
He follows up on the trial by documenting the reactions of the jurors now that the State aggression has come to an end – hopefully forever in Vernon’s case. But it’s not over for them, not a chance. They feel lied to and railroaded into potentially jailing and fining a peaceful farmer. The State slight of hand actually succeeded in drawing more attention to food freedom and the benefits of nutritionally dense foods.
The jury has now caught on to the crazy cover-up tactics listed below…
What they didn’t know was that the reason for issuing the holding order was because of Hershberger’s failure to have retail and dairy permits the DATCP [Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection] said were required — the very charges they acquitted him of.
A handful of jurors left unsettled about the verdict. They did tons of research on natural law, nutritionally dense foods, and the details of the case and the 2010 raid. They took off work to be there at his sentencing and were sorry for the guilty verdict – they just didn’t know the full ramifications.
A few of them wrote to the judge, Guy Reynolds, before the sentencing to ask for leniency for the man they voted guilty on the charge with the penalty. They, too, pointed out the contradiction of punishing him for a holding order that was in place because of the licensing issue – for which they acquitted him on three counts. That is the first time Reynolds had ever seen anything like that in all his years.
These are the blurring tactics that some of the jury members did not appreciate:
- Raw milk, health topics, herdshare, and liberty were just some of the language banned from the case. No discussion of reason for raid allowed.
- Criminal intent was not allowed to be discussed! Doesn’t that sort of nullify the reason for having the case to begin with?
- Documents or evidence shown to jury had reasons for the hold order blotted out
- Prosecution didn’t want to allow any photos and facts of the farm, saying it was “irrelevant.” They asked that evidence about memberships not be allowed.
- Jurors were shuffled out of the room many times during the trial especially when the judge thought defense might say a blacklisted term.
- Judge orders jury NOT to vote by conscience saying “(you) must base your verdict on the law I give you.” after defense gives them a crash court on jury rights. Later they figured out that they could have voted by their conscience, especially with the lack of info and evidence. They did not have to abide by listening to the judge talk of LAW when the holding order (not based on law) was null and void to begin with, based on licensing requirements that are null and void in Wisconsin and taking into account that a private buying club is not a retail establishment – nullify!
- The jurors were bused in from a remote location and were made to fear and believe that his supporters would harm them – they saw a truth entirely different from the illusion. The supporters and Vernon’s family were peace-loving and happy to share information after the case. Juror, Michele Bollfrass-Hopp, said: “I was kind of scared. I thought his supporters were possibly dangerous. I found out what nice people they are…Now we are radicalized.”
Vernon never held resentments, always smiled, and invited them into his and his family’s lives. This case and the final results proved helpful to the others privately providing raw milk in Wisconsin as well as opening residents up to more discussion about jury rights.
David Gumpert also notes that this three-year battle waged by DATCP cost untold millions, and great expense to Vernon’s large family, too. When they destroyed his food, poured blue dye into his 2,000 lb bulk milk tank, taped up his food – they were daring him not to feed his family, daring him to let all that homegrown food go to waste. They never reimbursed him or returned his things – they had taken his computer and personal files. The judge declared that the armed raid and seizure of property is not of use of force.
This is not justice, and the jurors know that now. Which is why they want to visit him, join the club, and try some raw milk. Calling it a raw milk trial is kind of a misnomer as raw milk isn’t the only food provided in the club – it’s food freedom that was on trial. And Wisconsin tried to make an example of Vernon Hershberger.
Vernon, in the face of persecution, has a “peace that surpasses all understanding.” The contrast between peaceful farmers who are willing to feed the hungry at no charge if need be and the eclectic supporters versus the lies, bias, and aggressive tactics of the State coupled with a judge who pushed the jury – had to an awesome force to behold.
Check out David Gumpert’s brand new book: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Food Rights: The Escalating Battle over Who Decides What We Eat
Look into donating at Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund to support Vernon and his family through this battering from legal aggression. More help could be used for covering the legal costs of this dragged-out case.
Be empowered. Locate YOUR real food source! 20 Places to Find Local Food and Family Farms Near You
Background stories from most recent to earliest – check these out to better understand peaceful activism, jury rights, food law, and the attacks on food and farm freedom:
- Vernon Hershberger Sentence and Fines are Decided
- DOJ Pushes to Jail Hershberger After Jury Acquittal
- Hershberger Verdict In After Judge Orders Jury NOT to Vote With Conscience
- Hershberger Trial: List of Things You Can’t Say and Wear Gets Bigger
- Breaking: No Mention of “Liberty” Allowed During Hershberger Raw Milk Trial
- Farmer Faces Over 2 Years Jail, $10K Fines for Feeding Community
- Pre-Trial Hearing Begins For Farmer Targeted by Raw Milk Police; Legal Concerns Begin to Mount
- Last Year’s Rally & Hearings for Vernon Hershberger with Footage of Inspections
Read Other Articles by Heather Callaghan