A Georgia federal court has upheld the convictions of Stewart Parnell, Michael Parnell and Mary Wilkerson, former Peanut Corp. of America (PCA) executives, after an investigation into the defendants’ claims of jury misconduct. United States v. Parnell, 13-cr-12 (U.S. Dist. Ct., M.D. Ga., Albany Div., order entered May 28, 2015).
The three were convicted on charges related to a 2008-2009 Salmonella outbreak that sickened hundreds of people nationwide and was linked to nine deaths. After a jury convicted them, the defendants argued that some jury members had conducted outside research, based on allegations made to them by Juror 34. The court rejected their argument, noting, “Throughout the sealed proceedings held on alleged juror misconduct, the court only uncovered one juror who could be termed biased: Juror 34.” Further, “the evidence against the Defendants was overwhelming,” the court said. The defendants’ attorney told media that it planned to appeal the ruling. Additional details about the motion for a new trial appears in Issue 540 of this Update. See Associated Press, May 30, 2015.