Federal courts in Georgia have a number of important criminal trials this fall, and it seems that Athens attorney Edward D. Tolley is involved in all of them. Tolley, who represents defendant Michael Parnell in the criminal trial of four former Peanut Corporation of America executives, filed a motion last week suggesting that the U.S. District Court hold a Sept. 4 status conference because of his crowded schedule. Federal Judge W. Louis Sands agreed with the suggestion, but not the date. Instead Sands set Aug. 14 at 4:30 p.m. as the date and time for a telephonic status conference among parties in the case. And perhaps because Tolley is so busy, Sands gave the attorney the assignment of notifying the parties and setting up the conference. “When everyone is connected, please telephone chambers and we will proceed with the conference,” says Sands’ order to Tolley. In addition to defending Parnell, PCA’s vice president and peanut broker, Tolley is the lead defense counsel for Ray Adams, a man charged with distribution of the poison “ricin” to the public, who goes to trial Sept. 23 in the Northern District of Georgia. Tolley is also lead counsel in another federal trial beginning Nov. 4 in the Southern District that could take eight weeks. The criminal trial against the four former PCA executives is scheduled to begin Oct. 7, but brothers Stewart and Michael Parnell have petitioned the court for separate trials. Stewart Parnell was the chief executive of the now defunct company. Judge Sands hinted that he is open to some rescheduling. In an order signed last Thursday, he denied several defense motions for failing to include memorandums of law citing supporting authorities as required by court rules. However, he added that if the parties needed additional time to file preliminary motions, he’d entertain a written motion to modify the scheduling order. Sands acted on several motions, most of which remain sealed, regarding defendant Mary Wilkerson. The former quality control officer at PCA’s Blakely, GA, plant is charged with two counts of obstruction of justice. She claims through attorney Thomas G. Ledford that the government has not provided meaningful pre-trial discovery. In a description of the sealed order, it appears that Sands may have approved payment for technical services to help Wilkerson make sense of the approximately three million documents the government has collected in the case. The fourth defendant is Samuel Lightsey, the former Blakely, GA, plant manger for PCA. Together, the four are charged with 76 federal felony counts in the aftermath of a Salmonella outbreak that was linked to PCA after sickening at least 700 people and killing nine.