It's Easier to Get Juries to Convict When You Don't Let Them Understand What's Going On, Raw Milk Division

Followup on the "raw milk" prosecution against Wisconsin farmer Vernon Hershberger I blogged about last week from the Daily Isthmus [link fixed]:

every time the words "raw milk" are about to come up during the proceedings, the jury is ushered out of the room. It happened Monday morning and again Tuesday afternoon.

It would be funny if conviction for Hershberger didn't mean jail time -- for a father of ten children....

The state is arguing that Hershberger violated the law by selling milk (raw) while he was not licensed. But here's the problem: licensing requires that milk producers sell to a licensed processing plant. If you don't sell to a plant, you aren't licensed. At issue is not the fact that Hershberger failed to obtain a license, but that he cannot get a license, period, to sell milk because he was no longer shipping to a plant. Instead, he was attempting to sell raw milk directly to buyers or buying club "members" who had purchased shares in cows. But no one is allowed to say that.

Judge Reynolds ruled in the prosecution's favor before the trial started that there will be no discussion of whether Hershberger had criminal intent in not obtaining a license, no discussion of the safety of raw milk and no discussion even of why his farm was raided in 2010.......

A telling moment during Tuesday's testimony was when Teresa Butterworth, witness for the prosecution and employee of DATCP's Bureau of Food Safety & Inspection whose responsibility it is to license and maintain dairy farm records, could not tell the defense what dairy plants do. Lead defense attorney Glenn Reynolds (no relation to the judge): "What do dairy plants do?" Butterworth: "I don’t know." Later she stated: "I just process the paperwork."

By circumscribing so narrowly the rules of engagement before the trial even began -- despite the defense attorneys' best efforts -- the state is counting on the jury to also just process the paperwork.

The Madison Capital Times reports on the mass public support for Hershberger.

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  • ||

    Mother fuckers. I just read the autistic kid selling pot story! WTF, Reason? Stop finding these isolated incidents of state assholery so close together. Ruining my fucking lunch break.

  • anon||

    I'd argue the incidents are hardly isolated, and Reason probably only finds a very very small fraction of such incidents.

  • Andrew S.||

  • Andrew S.||

    WTF happened to my comment there?

    What I was trying to type was a simple

    thatsthejoke.jpg

  • anon||

    Ah, sarcasm wasn't translated well.

  • db||

    It's far simpler to assume all comments here spring from sarcasm.

  • Juice||

    You put html tags in it.

  • db||

    I put HTML tags in this.

  • prolefeed||

    You SF'd the link.

  • Almanian!||

    Well, having read this, there's nothing to do but kill myself. Whatever small, pitiful, withering will to live that existed in me was extinguished by the douchtardedness of that judge.

    Good bye, cruel world!

    Also, I wonder what Roger Clemens thinks about this...

  • ||

    Ok, now I KNOW I just heard someone say Roger Clemens!

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Who? The Rocket? Man, too bad he never draws a mention around here.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Yeah this is fucking ridiculous. The DATCP, on behalf of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board is just punishing this guy because the trend of local producers, small farms, direct sales to consumers is starting to erode the monopoly the WMMB has over dairy prices. Fuck them. Fuck Wisconsin. Fuck Michigan!

    Roger Clemens.

  • Rights-Minimalist Autocrat||

    Shit like this exposes the lie that trials are fair because they are done by a jury of your peers. Fuck that. The government prosecutes the case, and also controls what evidence can and cannot be heard. Fair trial my ass.

    This is why I'm against the death penalty. I get that some assholes deserve to die, but I do not for one second trust the government to do that sorting.

  • Rich||

    "What do dairy plants do?"

    Butterworth: "I don’t know."

    *Mrs.* Butterworth?!

  • ||

    But does she only snitch on dairy farmers?

    You Butter Believe it!

  • Almanian!||

    I can't believe it's not Butter...worth...

    *returns to dying*

  • BakedPenguin||

    Cheryl: I don't know what that means, Pam. I wasn't raised on a cheese farm..
    Pam: OH FOR THE LOVE OF... It's called a dairy.

  • anon||

    It's like that time the farm flooded! :(

  • Jordan||

    Needs moar jury nullification!

    /lights Tulpa signal

  • Matrix||

    is the Tulpa signal the shape of a turd?

  • Brandybuck||

    Look! Up in the sky! The Butt Signal!

  • ||

    Hey!!

  • some guy||

    If I were on a jury where it was clear that we weren't getting the whole story, I'd nullify on principle. I'd rather let one guilty person go free than encourage the state in this bullshit.

  • E. Zachary Knight||

    How can the jury nullify a law when they are not allowed to be present when said law is being discussed?

  • ||

    Considering that the law at hand concerns LICENSING OF MILK SELLERS, I have no problem voting no guilty on principle alone.

    I could probably vote no guilty on almost any case involving licensing.

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    retrospectively speaking, the fact that he hates it makes me even more sure we need more of it

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Judge sure gave the defense plenty of appellate ammo, God Bless his shriveled soul.

  • ||

    Daily Isthmus link goes to the other Reason post.

  • Brian Doherty||

    Thanks, link should be fixed now.

  • Zeb||

    It seems to me that anything that seems relevant to the defense ought to be admissible in court. They need to at least be able to make the case that the law is unjust.
    What would be really nice would be a requirement that the prosecution not only have to show that the law was violated, but also that some harm was done by the violation.

  • anon||

    It seems to me that anything that seems relevant to the defense ought to be admissible in court.

    You obviously have no sympathy to all those willing buyers of milk. THEY COULD BE DRINKING MILK THAT THE FDA HASN'T APPROVED! How heartless of you, fucking child rapist.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    What do dairy plants do?

    They give us that delicious butter fruit.

  • db||

    You think milk just grows on trees?

  • UnCivilServant||

    Isn't that where you get coconut milk?

  • db||

    Huh huhhuhuh. You said " nut milk."

  • ||

    Jacob, could we get a link to the actual article? Both your links before the excerpt just go to your previous article. Thanks.

  • ||

  • db||

    Dude, dairy comes from cows, which are animals, not plants.

  • UnCivilServant||

    Or sheep, or goats, or yak... oh wait, you mean the stuff that gets to our limited grocery stores.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Teresa Butterworth, witness for the prosecution and employee of DATCP's Bureau of Food Safety & Inspection whose responsibility it is to license and maintain dairy farm records, could not tell the defense what dairy plants do. Lead defense attorney Glenn Reynolds (no relation to the judge): "What do dairy plants do?" Butterworth: "I don’t know." Later she stated: "I just process the paperwork."

    Behold the face of the bureaucrat. See's nothing, hears nothing, thinks nothing, knows nothing, just processes the paperwork and takes the money.

  • Juice||

    Milk is above her pay grade. Mrs. Butterworth only knows syrup.

  • Raston Bot||

    "I just process the paperwork."

    So this case is entirely about red tape. 30 months in jail and $10,000 fine for violating red tape. A farmer who already operates on paper thin margins could sit idle for 2 1/2 years while his bank note goes delinquent and his family's food fund is diminished by $10,000.

    Brilliant job, Wisconsin residents. You must be proud having defeated this scourge of bureaucracy.

  • Whahappan?||

    This is deliberate malfeasance by the judge, even if he's "following precedent." He know's it's wrong, and whoever is responsible for the precedents knew they were wrong, too, morally as well as legally. The only possibility that makes any sense is that our legal system is run by deliberately, intentionally evil people.

  • JW||

    Judge Reynolds ruled in the prosecution's favor before the trial started that there will be no discussion of whether Hershberger had criminal intent in not obtaining a license, no discussion of the safety of raw milk and no discussion even of why his farm was raided in 2010.......

    Rope.

  • Juice||

    *sigh* All you can do in cases like this is appeal.

  • Robert||

    "Did somebody...do something?"
    "Yes."
    "Can you identify the person in this room who...did something?"

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