Attorneys for the government and defendant Stewart Parnell have agreed on a date for a “Daubert hearing” to determine the viability of an expert witness ready to testify that the former peanut company executive suffers from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
A “Daubert hearing” is an evidentiary proceeding held by a federal judge to determine the admissibility of expert scientific testimony. It was named for the plaintiff in the 1993 case of Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals.
The government and defense attorneys have agreed that Dr. Joseph C. Conley, Jr., Parnell’s clinical psychologist from Lynchburg, VA, will testify at such a hearing on March 13, 2014, before federal Judge W. Louis Sands. The government also has the right to call its own expert witness.
Parnell, his brother Michael, and two other former managers of the now-defunct Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) are together charged with a total of 76 federal felony counts in a complex criminal case involving conspiracy and fraud. The indictments followed PCA’s involvement as the source of a deadly Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak in 2008-2009 that resulted in nine deaths and 700 people being sickened.
If recognized by the judge as an expert, Conley is prepared to say that Stewart Parnell’s ADHD means, according to his attorney, that “the tragic events at PCA (Peanut Corporation of America) were not the result of a complicated, concerted scheme, but rather the result of inept daily plant management and negligent employees.”
Also pending is a motion by the Parnell brothers for separate trials. Stewart Parnell’s attorney wrote to the court on Jan. 15 to say that he had nothing more to offer on the issue.
The scheduling order puts the federal criminal case on track for this coming July and August, possibility beginning as early as July 7. The case is being tried in U.S. Court for the Middle District of Georgia in Albany.© Food Safety News