U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Q. Langstaff is giving the government until Oct. 22 to reply to a post-hearing brief for Michael Parnell. Speare I. Hodges, Department of Justice (DOJ), is asking for an additional week “due the complexity of these issues and scheduling conflicts
Arguments shall be closed when Parnell’s government replies to Parnells post-hearing statements. Parnell, 62, prepared and submitted his Motion 2255 on Nov. 13, 2019, from his federal prison cell at Fort Dix, NJ. Parnell is asking to overturn his conviction and sentence.
Parnell has a little more than ten years remaining on his 20-year sentence and a projected release date of Sept.30, 2032.
Parnell, Stewart and Mary Wilkerson were convicted by a jury in 2014. They were all associated with the now defunct Peanut Corporation of America and the peanut processing plant of PCA at Blakely, GA. It was the source of a multistate Salmonella outbreak in 2008-09 with multiple deaths.
Michael Parnell was convicted of fraud and conspiracy to introduce adulterated foods into interstate commerce.
Parnell claimed that he was denied effective counsel because he did not request a change in venue for the 2014 jury trials and because he failed to strike for cause jurors, who were aware of the deaths caused by the Salmonella outbreak.
While Parnell started the process by himself, he is not finished. Parnell was able to hire two Virginia attorneys for his case after his in-person hearing in May. These are Elliot M Harding from Charlottesville and William J. Dinkin.
Harding, Dinkin submitted a pre-hearing response that was longer than the maximum word limit or page limit. However, they were allowed to reduce it to 26 webpages.
The government responded to Stewart Parnell’s brief post-hearing reply on Oct. 8. Amy Levin Weil, of Atlanta and Amy Lee Copeland, of Savannah filed his petition. It was filed just a few weeks after the Michael Parnell motion. The Magistrate Judge heard arguments from both motions during hearings held in May in Albany, GA
The hearing record and all written arguments were sent to the Magistrate judge, who made recommendations to the Middle District Court where the jury trial took place and the sentencing took place. Langstazff issued several procedural rulings in the PCA criminal case. W. Louis Sands was the trial judge. He is currently on “senior” status with the Middle District.
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