Were the jury and venue encourage in 2014 sufficiently free of bias to present Stewart Parnell and Michael Parnell an even trial or no longer? Most up-to-date to present an resolution is trial scientist Denise de La Rue. She is a jury and trial advisor from Decatur, GA.
The Parnell brothers are serving federal sentences linked to a deadly outbreak traced to their peanut butter and peanut paste products.
de La Rue has submitted a written file to federal Magistrate Thomas Q. Langstaff along with her expert thought about Stewart Parnell’s claims of ineffective support of counsel. The file is now portion of the file within the “Habeas” petition to vacate all or portion of Parnell’s sentence.
She prepared the expert look file in toughen of Stewart Parnell’s petition, in overall identified as a Circulate 2255 proceeding. A jury in 2014 convicted the Parnell brothers of a pair of federal felonies. In a separate 2255 proceeding, Michael Parnell seeks to vacate his sentence.
Langstaff closing month heard testimony in both Circulate 2255 court cases at the federal courthouse in Albany, GA. The Parnell brothers, carrying striped detention heart garments and chains, were permitted to attend their listening to while within the custody of U.S. Marshals.
de La Rue is a licensed licensed skilled who works exclusively as a jury and trial advisor. She continuously lectures on jury desire and voir dire at law colleges and persevering with good education capabilities.
The joint protection team for the Parnell brothers did no longer gaze a change of venue and determined now to no longer hire a jury advisor, leaving the venue and jury desire job within the fingers of now Purchase Ken Hodges.
Hodges used to be for 12 years the elected District Authorized skilled for Dougherty County in Albany, GA. When he joined the protection team, he used to be practicing law in Atlanta. He no longer too long within the past won a statewide election to the Georgia Court of Appeals.
Picking the jury and accepting Albany because the venue were Purchase Hodges duties, protection team participants have testified.
“In my opinion, trial counsel for Stewart Parnell have to have investigated the scope and results of pre-trial publicity, besides to the stage of bias against him, within the trial venue in contemplation of a change of venue motion,” de La Rue writes.
“There is no longer any debate that events desirous about his case were headline news, both locally and nationally, ” she continues. “To boot to the intense coverage of these events, there used to be coverage of pre-trial court cases about complaints. Even perchance more pervasive in plenty of of the small cities and agriculturally rich counties within the Albany Division used to be the ‘note of mouth’ relating to the dilemma with Peanut Corporation of The United States, the subsequent closure of the plant in Blakely, the results on the peanut commerce within the neighborhood, and the reasonably a pair of lives tormented by it. All of these factors have this particular case one which in my survey helps a potential change of venue dilemma.”
de La Rue says with supporting recordsdata, Parnell’s protection required a change of venue motion. “I will no longer take into consideration a strategic cause that this work used to be no longer performed on this case,” she persevered.
In her feedback about jury desire, de La Rue opens with a overview of the 77-assign a query to, 14-web page questionnaire extinct to acquire the Parnell jury. Named “skilling,” she acknowledged the “exhaustive questionnaire.” used to be “one in every of the measures” to have an even jury in trial surrounded by much publicity.
For the Parnell jury, she acknowledged skilling used to be actually useful but with a quantity of unrelated open-discontinuance questions. de La Rue says potential jurors present more in written questionnaires than talking in court or raising their fingers.
Parnell’s protection broke down for the length of voir dire questioning, especially with sequestered folks, per de La Rue. Parnell’s trial attorneys were “at key instances” ineffective.
“They did no longer probe jurors to encourage them in disclosing what info (or misinformation) they may perchance perchance perchance know relating to the defendants,” she acknowledged. They did no longer continuously spend open-ended questions.
“The jurors of main ardour are, for optimistic, those who served as petit jurors,” she continues. “Jurors #34 and #83 reported they’d info of the case and were wondered personally by the court out of the presence of alternative jurors. “Protection counsel requested no questions of juror #34, and apply-up of 83 did no longer take care of probing his info of the case”
“Most remarkably, Petit Jurors #37 and #84 knew that there were deaths linked with the salmonella outbreak at the Blakely plant, a truth that used to be so prejudicial it used to be deemed no longer admissible at trial. Counsel did no longer are attempting to explore a dilemma for cause for either of them.
“In its build of questioning these two jurors as to the small print of their info, counsel requested leading questions that amounted to more of rehabilitation than an exploration of a potential cause dilemma.”
To boot, the jury expert acknowledged, Alternate Jurors 111,112,115 and 116 “disclosed having info and were wondered personally by the court with “no apply up keen on pre-trial publicity or case consciousness by counsel for Mr. Parnell.”
Alternate jurors did no longer deliberate but sat with the jurors who did.
de La Rue additionally says the information of the outbreak deaths held by Jurors #37 and #84 doubtless “infected the jury pool in a fundamental approach if that info were disclosed to other jurors before or for the length of deliberations.”
“Other folks are inclined to have attributions relating to the behaviors of others essentially based in portion on the outcomes of that habits,” acknowledged de La Rue. “Gleaming that there were deaths linked with the events of this case supposed to were attributable to Mr. Parnell may perchance perchance perchance most actually have an impact on the jurors’ judgment about Mr. Parneell’s conduct.”
“In my opinion,” she continues, “essentially the most efficient competent means to these two jurors by counsel for Mr. Parnell may perchance perchance perchance be to conduct a thorough and probing voir dire on this dilemma to investigate cross-take a look at to assign the foundation for cause a dilemma; to dilemma them for cause essentially based on the truth they had this info of inadmissible and prejudicial evidence, arguing the potential for it to bias no longer most efficient their very own choices but that of the leisure of the jury if disclosed, and if the dilemma for cause used to be denied, to spend peremptory challenges to ensure that they may perchance no longer take a seat as jurors on this case.”
The expert look file used to be filed with the court on June 8 by Atlanta’s Amy Levin Weil and Savannah’s Amy Lee Copeland, Stewart Parnell’s attorneys for the Circulate 2255 court cases. de La Rue used to be paid $10,000 as a retainer for the file. Her billing rate is $375 an hour.
Parnell used to be chief govt of the now-defunct Peanut Corporation of The United States, which used to be essentially based in Lynchburg, VA, with peanut processing crops in Blakely, GA, and Plainview, TX. His brother Michael used to be alive to with PCA as a peanut dealer.
In tiresome 2008, a multi-bellow outbreak of Salmonella used to be traced to peanut butter and peanut paste products from PCA’s Blakely plant. It would consequence in 714 confirmed cases of Salmonella in 46 states and Canada and 9 deaths. Also, peanut products from better than 3,900 companies were recalled.
A federal investigation lasting better than four years resulted in two criminal indictments, charging the Parnell brothers and three other mature PCA staff with a pair of federal felonies. The Parnells’ first appearances in federal court in Albany, GA, came in February 2013.
A 2014 jury trial convicted the Parnells and PCA’s quality modify supervisor in Blakely, Mary Wilkerson. Stewart Parnell used to be sentenced to 28 years in federal detention heart, His brother Michael used to be sentenced to 20 years, and Wilkeson, who has since been released, served 5 years.
Two other mature PCA managers agreed sooner than the trial to plead responsible and testify for the govt. They served three and 6 years terms and have since been released.
Written arguments on the 2 Habeas petitions are inclined to select within the summertime months. After that Purchase Langstaff will have his recommendation.
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