Jury and trial skilled says Stewart Parnell’s trial attorneys dropped the ball

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 together with her skilled opinion about Stewart Parnell’s claims of ineffective help of counsel.  The report is now a part of the document within the “Habeas” petition to vacate all or a part of Parnell’s sentence.

She ready the skilled witness report in help of Stewart Parnell’s petition, often known 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, have been permitted to attend their listening to whereas within the custody of U.S. Marshals.

de La Rue is a licensed legal professional 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 crew 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 Decide Ken Hodges.

Hodges was for 12 years the elected District Legal professional for Dougherty County in Albany, GA. When he joined the protection crew, he was practising regulation in Atlanta. He lately gained a statewide election to the Georgia Court docket of Appeals.

Choosing the jury and accepting Albany because the venue have been Decide Hodges duties, protection crew 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 towards him, within the trial venue in contemplation of a change of venue movement,” de La Rue writes.

“There is no such thing as a debate that occasions concerned in his case have been headline information, each domestically and nationally, ” she continues. “Along with the extreme 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 trade locally, and the various lives affected by it. All of those elements make this specific case one which in my opinion helps a possible change of venue challenge.”

de La Rue says with supporting information, Parnell’s protection required a change of venue movement. “I can not consider a strategic motive that this work was not carried out on this case,” she continued.

In her feedback about jury choice, de La Rue opens with a assessment of the 77-question, 14-page questionnaire used to pick 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 plenty 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 have 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 repeatedly use open-ended questions.

“The jurors of main curiosity are, in fact, those that served as petit jurors,” she continues. “Jurors #34 and #83 reported that they’d data of the case and have 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 cope with 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 incontrovertible 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 an alternative of questioning these two jurors as to the main points 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 skilled stated, Alternate Jurors 111,112,115 and 116 “disclosed having data and have 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 possible “contaminated the jury pool in a big manner if that data have been disclosed to different jurors earlier than or throughout deliberations.”

“Folks are inclined to make attributions concerning the behaviors of others based mostly partly on the outcomes of that conduct,” stated de La Rue. “Understanding that there have been deaths related to the occasions of this case alleged to have been attributable to 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 a radical and probing voir dire on this challenge to attempt to set up the premise  for trigger a problem; to problem them for trigger based mostly on the very fact they’d 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’d not sit as jurors on this case.”

The skilled 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 price is $375 an hour.

Parnell was chief govt of the now-defunct Peanut Company of America, which was based mostly in Lynchburg, VA, with peanut processing crops 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 could result in 714 confirmed circumstances of Salmonella in 46 states and Canada and 9 deaths. Additionally, peanut merchandise from greater than 3,900 corporations have been recalled.

A federal investigation lasting greater than 4 years resulted in two prison 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 time months.   After that Decide Langstaff will make his advice.

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