U.S. District Court Judge W. Louis Sands said Tuesday that government attorneys may file an additional three pages of arguments to correct a possible misstatement of law by Stewart Parnell’s defense attorneys. Parnell is the former Peanut Corporation of America executive scheduled to go on trial later this summer with three of his former managers on 76 federal felony counts. Sands signed an order giving government prosecutors an additional seven days to file a so-called “sur-reply” to claims by Parnell’s attorneys that “knowledge is not an essential element of the crimes charged against him.” In the order, Sands said sur-replies are not usually permitted, but he was allowing the request this time because Parnell’s attorney raised the argument for the first time in a reply brief to the government. The dispute over whether knowledge is an essential element of the alleged crimes emerged during a lengthy pre-trial proceeding over whether Dr. Joseph C. Conley, Jr., the neuropsychologist who claims Parnell suffers from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), should be allowed to testify as an expert at trial. The question of Conley’s expert witness status was taken to a March 13 “Daubert” hearing, which included nearly seven hours of oral testimony and resulted in a 197-page hearing transcript and 193 pages of exhibits. The former executives of the now-defunct company that once processed peanuts at plants in Georgia and Texas were charged after a four-year FBI investigation sparked by the 2008-2009 Salmonella outbreak involving peanut butter and peanut paste from the PCA plants. The outbreak resulted in 700 illnesses and nine deaths. Charges include conspiracy, introduction of adulterated food into interstate commerce with intent to defraud or mislead, introduction of misbranded food into instate commerce with intent to defraud or mislead, instate shipments fraud, wire fraud and obstruction of justice. Stewart Parnell’s brother, Michael Parnell, PCAs former vice president and peanut broker; Samuel Lightsey, PCA’s Georgia plant manager, and Mary Wilkerson, the quality control manger, are the other three defendants charged in the case. They have largely been on the sidelines while Sands, the trial judge, held the extensive pre-trial “Daubert” hearings over Conley’s status. Such expert witness proceedings are named for “Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals,” a precedent-setting case on expert witnesses. All four defendants are free on bail and to assist in their own defense. Other important dates leading up to the trial include: April: Hearing for other pre-trial motions is April 30. May: Deadline of May 20 for government and defense attorneys to file any start-of-trial motions known as “in limine.” June: Responses to motions in limine will be due June 9, and replies must be turned in by June 19. A June 24 pre-trial hearing will be held for Sands to hear arguments on the start-of-trial motions. Sands wants the attorneys to meet regarding exhibits on June 25. July: Attorneys must propose voir dire questions for the jury and jury instructions by July 7. If all of this stays on the tracks, the jury trial will begin July 14.