By Heather Callaghan
24 May 2013
Hopefully, you already know what's going down in Baraboo, Wisconsin. It's one of the biggest, precedent-setting food freedom cases in history that's got even conventional dairy industries watching. Raw milk is the smallest part of this trial - Vernon is fighting for you and he didn't have to. A large, mostly eclectic group has been gathering since Monday and a verdict is expected Friday.
The judge, Guy Reynolds, is essentially directing the jury how to vote and what they are allowed to hear....The whole case hinges on these words that are banned.
Vernon Hershberger is facing over two years prison time and $10,000 in fines for four criminal misdemeanor charges aimed at him for providing fresh food to his community through members in agreement. Some background here. Prosecution from the State is having a hard time proving that Vernon is running a "retail establishment". He's not, unless you consider horse boarding, co-ops and Craigslist storefronts with retail transactions requiring business licenses to use. Government would love to eradicate "herd share" type agreements and so it's no surprise that there is NO discussion of herd share memberships allowed in the courtroom - see how they are keeping the jury in the dark below.
Streaming Live. Follow the caption link to view archives:
Let it be known that the jury has been frequently shoo-ed from the room anytime the judge felt that something truthful was about to be uttered on the stand. I bet they wondered what they were missing and why they weren't allowed to hear it.
List of things struck from the trial - this stems from the judge's agreement with prosecution before the trial began. He has sided with the State every step of the way:
- Defense is not allowed to talk of defendant's personal liberty - no talk of liberty allowed
- The words “raw milk” are not allowed to be spoken during the trial.
- No talk about safety or health reasons - this made it impossible for witnesses to talk about why they went to his farm.
- According to Josh Tolley, talk of "natural foods" was not allowed.
- No talk of whether there was criminal intent in not obtaining a license - Note: shouldn't that right there be cause for jury nullification? Can't talk about criminal intent - then where is the crime? Also, you can't obtain a license for fresh food or memberships in Wisconsin!
- Photos from the farm were argued against and called "irrelevant."
- No discussion of why his farm was initially raided in 2010.
- No talk of herd shares or memberships - how did the witnesses discuss? Very carefully, see below
- A woman wearing a "Got Initiative?" shirt was told to remove it before entering because it hinted at a reference. A picture of her appears on one of the Facebook updates I'm watching.
- Mark McAffe was ordered to cover his shirt because it said: "get raw milk."
- A teenager wearing a "Raw Milk Me" button was asked to remove it before entering.
This courtroom conversation came from the court room on Thursday from David Gumpert's status update. See how the witness must mince his words following the guidelines above:
Defense testimony from one of Vernon Hershberger's buying club members since 2004, Joseph Plasterer, as to how he came to seek out farm's food.
Plasterer: We were looking for some natural milk sources, in early 2004.
Defense lawyer: Did you come and meet the Hershbergers?
Plasterer: Yes. We asked if we could be part of the farm…
Defense: Did you have a reason?
Plasterer: My son was not thriving…"
Judge Guy Reynolds: Sustained
Plasterer: We wanted access to unproc food that was higher qual that would not be available from the stores.
Judge Reynolds: Sustained. Strike the answer. The jury is to ignore that.
Okay, so what cat left the bag during the trial?
Inspector Jackie Owens admitted on the stand that it is not illegal to have a farm, grow your own and consume those goods. That did not stop her from barging in while Vernon was away, without a warrant, to do a sneak-attack inspection that led to destruction of his food. One investigator admitted that she knew they were destroying his family's personal food stores, but did it anyway.
It is also clear what ignorance the state and paid agents have about farming and dairy. In some cases, agents have asked: "On what days do you milk your cows?" One court official (possibly the judge) did not know what kefir was and then it couldn't be discussed.
Live update from Derrick J Freeman:
State: Nobody forced you to work on the farm? Kissero: I'm a part owner. It's my job.S: I move to strike from record. Kissero rolls eyes. — Derrick J. Freeman (@derrickjfreeman) May 24, 2013
No matter what, Vernon is painted as a lawbreaker - that's the message they want to drive home to the jury. If there was ever a time we needed jury nullification and informed jurors - it's now.
This is far from over, regardless of the verdict and it's not about raw milk - it's a coordinated, deliberate act of warlike aggression to keep you in control, and unhealthy. First they came for the raw milk drinkers...
David Gumpert (Raw Milk Revolution), Mark Baker of Baker's Green Acres, Liz Reitzig, Alvin Schlangen (another farmer facing persecution), Michael Badnarik, Mark McAffe, Eusatce Conway, Derrick J, Weston A. Price Foundation leaders and many more are out there lending their support.
Popeye from FederalJack.com and I had an exciting discussion and we even had a surprise call in from food freedom warrior Liz Reitzig at Baraboo. Listen HERE.
Vernon told Liz to tell us that you can support him best by supporting your local farm and co-op.
Also listen to Josh Tolley's archive from this morning and hear Vernon's dad and others at the Ringling theater across from the courtroom.
Get live Tweeted updates from the courtroom from Derrick J Freeman of PeaceNewsNow.com
Donate on Vernon's behalf at Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund and Vernonhershberger.com - All proceeds go to help him.
For those in the area, there are still events planned today:
LOCATION: Baraboo Court House, 515 Oak St, Baraboo, WI 53913
Updates from - Liz Reitzig, Weston A. Price, Farm Food Freedom Coalition, David Gumpert at The Complete Patient
Farmer Faces Over 2 Years Jail, $10K Fines for Feeding Community
Pre-Trial Hearing Begins For Farmer Targeted by Raw Milk Police; Legal Concerns Begin to Mount
Last Year's Rally & Hearings for Vernon Hershberger with Footage of Inspections
Read Other Articles by Heather Callaghan