Had been the jury and venue again in 2014 sufficiently freed from bias to offer Stewart Parnell and Michael Parnell a good trial or not? Newest to supply a solution is trial scientist Denise de La Rue. She is a jury and trial guide from Decatur, GA.
The Parnell brothers are serving federal sentences associated to a lethal outbreak traced to their peanut butter and peanut paste merchandise.
de La Rue has submitted a written report back to federal Justice of the Peace Thomas Q. Langstaff along with her knowledgeable opinion about Stewart Parnell’s claims of ineffective help of counsel. The report is now a part of the file within the “Habeas” petition to vacate all or a part of Parnell’s sentence.
She ready the knowledgeable witness report in help of Stewart Parnell’s petition, also referred to as a Movement 2255 continuing. A jury in 2014 convicted the Parnell brothers of a number of federal felonies. In a separate 2255 continuing, Michael Parnell seeks to vacate his sentence.
Langstaff final month heard testimony in each Movement 2255 proceedings on the federal courthouse in Albany, GA. The Parnell brothers, carrying striped jail clothes and chains, had been permitted to attend their listening to whereas within the custody of U.S. Marshals.
de La Rue is a licensed lawyer who works solely as a jury and trial guide. She steadily lectures on jury choice and voir dire at regulation colleges and persevering with authorized teaching programs.
The joint protection staff for the Parnell brothers didn’t search a change of venue and determined to not rent a jury guide, leaving the venue and jury choice course of within the fingers of now Choose Ken Hodges.
Hodges was for 12 years the elected District Legal professional for Dougherty County in Albany, GA. When he joined the protection staff, he was working towards regulation in Atlanta. He lately received a statewide election to the Georgia Court docket of Appeals.
Choosing the jury and accepting Albany because the venue had been Choose Hodges duties, protection staff members have testified.
“For my part, trial counsel for Stewart Parnell ought to have investigated the scope and results of pre-trial publicity, in addition to the diploma of bias in opposition to him, within the trial venue in contemplation of a change of venue movement,” de La Rue writes.
“There isn’t a debate that occasions concerned in his case had been headline information, each domestically and nationally, ” she continues. “Along with the extraordinary protection of those occasions, there was protection of pre-trial proceedings about courtroom circumstances. Maybe much more pervasive in most of the small cities and agriculturally wealthy counties within the Albany Division was the ‘phrase of mouth’ concerning the state of affairs with Peanut Company of America, the next closure of the plant in Blakely, the results on the peanut business in the neighborhood, and the various lives affected by it. All of those elements make this explicit case one which for my part helps a possible change of venue problem.”
de La Rue says with supporting information, Parnell’s protection required a change of venue movement. “I can not consider a strategic purpose that this work was not executed on this case,” she continued.
In her feedback about jury choice, de La Rue opens with a evaluation of the 77-question, 14-page questionnaire used to pick out the Parnell jury. Named “skilling,” she stated the “exhaustive questionnaire.” was “one of many measures” to acquire a good jury in trial surrounded by a lot publicity.
For the Parnell jury, she stated skilling was useful however with quite a lot of unrelated open-end questions. de La Rue says potential jurors reveal extra in written questionnaires than talking in courtroom or elevating their fingers.
Parnell’s protection broke down throughout voir dire questioning, particularly with sequestered people, in line with de La Rue. Parnell’s trial attorneys had been “at key occasions” ineffective.
“They did not probe jurors to help them in disclosing what data (or misinformation) they may know concerning the defendants,” she stated. They didn’t recurrently use open-ended questions.
“The jurors of major curiosity are, in fact, those that served as petit jurors,” she continues. “Jurors #34 and #83 reported that that they had data of the case and had been questioned individually by the courtroom out of the presence of different jurors. “Protection counsel requested no questions of juror #34, and follow-up of 83 didn’t take care of probing his data of the case”
“Most remarkably, Petit Jurors #37 and #84 knew that there have been deaths related to the salmonella outbreak on the Blakely plant, a proven fact that was so prejudicial it was deemed not admissible at trial. Counsel didn’t try to discover a problem for trigger for both of them.
“As a substitute of questioning these two jurors as to the small print of their data, counsel requested main questions that amounted to extra of rehabilitation than an exploration of a possible trigger problem.”
As well as, the jury knowledgeable stated, Alternate Jurors 111,112,115 and 116 “disclosed having data and had been questioned individually by the courtroom with “no comply with up difficult on pre-trial publicity or case consciousness by counsel for Mr. Parnell.”
Alternate jurors didn’t deliberate however sat with the jurors who did.
de La Rue additionally says the data of the outbreak deaths held by Jurors #37 and #84 probably “contaminated the jury pool in a big means if that data had been disclosed to different jurors earlier than or throughout deliberations.”
“Individuals are likely to make attributions concerning the behaviors of others primarily based partly on the outcomes of that conduct,” stated de La Rue. “Realizing that there have been deaths related to the occasions of this case alleged to have been brought on by Mr. Parnell might most definitely have an effect on the jurors’ judgment about Mr. Parneell’s conduct.”
“For my part,” she continues, “the one competent method to those two jurors by counsel for Mr. Parnell can be to conduct an intensive and probing voir dire on this problem to attempt to set up the idea for trigger a problem; to problem them for trigger primarily based on the actual fact that they had this data of inadmissible and prejudicial proof, arguing the potential for it to bias not solely their very own choices however that of the remainder of the jury if disclosed, and if the problem for trigger was denied, to make use of peremptory challenges to make sure that they might not sit as jurors on this case.”
The knowledgeable witness report was filed with the courtroom on June 8 by Atlanta’s Amy Levin Weil and Savannah’s Amy Lee Copeland, Stewart Parnell’s attorneys for the Movement 2255 proceedings. de La Rue was paid $10,000 as a retainer for the report. Her billing fee is $375 an hour.
Parnell was chief government of the now-defunct Peanut Company of America, which was primarily based in Lynchburg, VA, with peanut processing vegetation in Blakely, GA, and Plainview, TX. His brother Michael was concerned with PCA as a peanut dealer.
In late 2008, a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella was traced to peanut butter and peanut paste merchandise from PCA’s Blakely plant. It will result in 714 confirmed circumstances of Salmonella in 46 states and Canada and 9 deaths. Additionally, peanut merchandise from greater than 3,900 firms had been recalled.
A federal investigation lasting greater than 4 years resulted in two felony indictments, charging the Parnell brothers and three different former PCA workers with a number of federal felonies. The Parnells’ first appearances in federal courtroom in Albany, GA, got here in February 2013.
A 2014 jury trial convicted the Parnells and PCA’s high quality management supervisor in Blakely, Mary Wilkerson. Stewart Parnell was sentenced to twenty-eight years in federal jail, His brother Michael was sentenced to twenty years, and Wilkeson, who has since been launched, served 5 years.
Two different former PCA managers agreed forward of the trial to plead responsible and testify for the federal government. They served three and 6 years phrases and have since been launched.
Written arguments on the 2 Habeas petitions are more likely to take up the summer season months. After that Choose Langstaff will make his suggestion.
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