Last September, Alvin Schlangen was acquitted in Hennepin County, Minnesota of the following three charges: selling raw milk, operating without a food license, and handling adulterated food.
But in January he was brought up on six charges in his home county of Stearns, including the same three that were just dropped against him. Each side had a few weeks to submit letters, one of which was Alvin’s attorney requesting to have the same three charges dropped.
Alvin is arguing that this is serial prosecution – I’m guessing a less severe form of what we might call Double Jeopardy. But Judge Thomas Knapp disagreed and said they were different “crimes,” although similar, happening 10 days apart and involving separate foods. Schlangen argued that both county allegations “were from the same behavioral incident or continuous course of conduct,” but the judge is moving forward and another trial will take place with Alvin on the defense.
As stressful as this dragged-out battle has been for Alvin and his supporters who rely on him for fresh food drop-offs — there is plenty that we can do to help….
Just to clarify something first – Wikipedia quotes the fifth amendment and describes Double Jeopardy:
[N]or shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb . . . .
The Double Jeopardy Clause encompasses four distinct prohibitions: subsequent prosecution after acquittal, subsequent prosecution after conviction, subsequent prosecution after certain mistrials, and multiple punishment in the same indictment. Jeopardy “attaches” when the jury is empanelled, the first witness is sworn, or a plea is accepted.
But in another case which is the default, Blockburger v. United States (1932) — the government may separately try and punish the defendant for two crimes if each crime contains an element that the other does not. (Source) That’s probably the judge’s touchstone.
Schlangen, however, was only asking that the three same charges he was acquitted of be dropped – not all six. It was defense attorney Nathan Hansen’s wish that the charges be dropped as “one continuous indivisible court of action motivated by a unity of purpose.”
The three additional misdemeanors include: failing to maintain proper temperature for organic eggs, selling meat that should not have been possessed (?), and removing or disposing food embargoed by state food safety inspectors.
It is very important to point out here that his method of distribution is not a retail food establishment as government agencies like to assert. He provides it along with other fresh food options to his members through his farm club called Freedom Farms Co-op.
Food Farm Freedom Coalition explains:
Alvin Schlangen is a peaceful farmer who connects people with the food sources that meet their high standards for health by providing private access under lawful ownership of farm animals. the member owners pay the Amish farm family for labor to milk the leased 100% grass-fed cows, manage the pasture, store the feed, etc….The balance of food options are purchased by the club, for the members. The group has multiple farm sources providing real food to member families – very efficiently, with lots of volunteer effort. [emphasis added]
Still no trial date, but there is plenty that we can do to help. What saved him in the courts last time was jury nullification when he was tried for “crimes” that harmed no one. Informed jurors can look at the evidence, but say “so what?” and let him go free. This is how bad laws are evaporated in the face of constant persecution – because this WILL keep happening. Please read and distribute information about jury rights and additional guidelines in the Citizen’s Rule Book.
Defense and pro-liberty attorney Nathan Hansen advised that supporters of Alvin Schlangen contact Governor Mark Dayton – a contact form appears here. We can voice complaints about the MDA’s ongoing (lengthy and expensive) persecution of people who want to eat the food they want to eat.
Also recommended as a direct way to help Alvin is donating to Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund on his behalf. FTCLDF is a non-profit organization set up to directly help persecuted farmers like Alvin with their legal battles.
Alvin’s battles have been raging for more than two years now with threats of fines and imprisonment and he has been the target of multiple raids, inspections and trials. His many supporters have flocked to help him at rallies which Alvin attends and speaks, even signing a food declaration of independence. Although the Minnesota Department of Agriculture is aggressive towards its small farms and farm clubs, Minnesota has a trove of liberty to combat that with informed jurors.
We will update on upcoming rallies in support of Alvin Schlangen. Any suggestions for help or info on rallies are welcome.
Activism & Jury Nullification:
Fully Informed Jury Association
Read other articles by Heather Callaghan Here