The federal criminal trial of Peanut Corporation of America executives allegedly responsible for a deadly salmonella outbreak is scheduled to begin in Georgia on July 28, 2014.
Last year, Peanut Corporation of America executives Stewart Parnell, Michael Parnell, and Mary Wilkerson, were federally indicted for their role in causing the 2008-2009 salmonella spate that sickened 700 and killed 9 people. The executives face 76 criminal counts, including allegations of fraud and conspiracy related to the distribution into interstate commerce of misbranded and adulterated food.
In the last two months, Judge Sands has issued several pretrial rulings that greatly impact the scope of this case. In June, Judge Sands decided to exclude evidence relating to Stewart Parnell’s defense theory that he suffered from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The evidence was excluded because Judge Sands determined that the testimony of Dr. Joseph Conley, Jr., the defense’s proposed expert witness, did not satisfy Daubertrequirements. In another pretrial hearing on July 7, 2014, Judge Sands concluded that quality control test results were admissible as records kept in the ordinary course of business (thereby holding that the tests indicating that the peanuts were positive for salmonella were not testimonial statements) and permitted the government to mention in trial the injuries and deaths caused by salmonella-tainted peanuts.
Most recently, Judge Sands denied the defendants’ 20-page motion to dismiss based on prosecutorial misconduct. Defense attorneys argued for dismissal because federal prosecutors designated a new expert and provided the defense with several thousands of pages of new documents mere weeks before trial was scheduled to begin on July 14, 2014. Instead of dismissing the case, Judge Sands ordered a two-week delay and rescheduled jury selection for July 28, 2014.