For next month’s criminal trial of three former Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) executives, U.S. District Court Judge W. Louis Sands is letting prospective jurors know that their services might be required for eight weeks or longer. Because of the likely length of the trial scheduled to begin July 14, Sands says the federal court sent out double the number of jury summons to people in the Middle District of Georgia. He expects many of those who receive notices to report for jury duty will fill out exemption requests claiming that the potential trial length would be too much of a hardship. The summons to a jury pool of around 200 is the latest sign the PCA criminal case will reach the trial phase. The judge also gave prosecution and defense attorneys until Monday, June 30, to submit questions they’d like the court to ask during so-called “voir dire” proceedings used to empanel the 12-member jury (and up to six alternates) before the start of the trial. After the latest round of pre-trial hearings on Tuesday, Sands has twice ruled against motions made on behalf of defendant Stewart Parnell, the former chief executive officer of the now-defunct peanut company. The first of Parnell’s motions the judge denied would have allowed Virginia neuropsychologist Dr. Joseph Conley, Jr., to testify as an expert witness at trial. Conley claims that Parnell’s abilities as a chief executive may have been impaired by his Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Wherever that line of defense was going, it’s now out. Sands also denied Parnell’s motion to preclude the government from obtaining what the defense called “potentially privileged documents.” The disputed documents involve any responses PCA’s former corporate lawyers may have shared with the government up to and throughout the trial. Government attorneys sent letters on June 10 to five or six corporate lawyers who at one time or another represented the Virginia-based PCA. When PCA was in bankruptcy, the trustee waived the corporation’s privilege to these documents, and some have been used in the case. However, to guard against any violation of lawyer-client privilege or work product exclusion, the government is using a U.S. Department of Justice “taint” attorney to review the documents before they can be used by the prosecution. Defense attorneys also wanted to review the documents before they could go to prosecutors, but Sands shut down that idea. “Parnell’s motion is DENIED,” the judge wrote. “He has not cited any authority for the proposition that the Government’s proposed use of a taint team is improper or violates his rights.” On Thursday, Sands did grant the defendants’ motions to join in each other’s arguments “with the caveat that the Court will consider only those arguments, facts, and law specifically raised in the adopted brief or in the motion to adopt.” After Tuesday’s hearing, Sands has heard oral arguments for all pending pre-trial motions by the four sets of attorneys most involved in the case. However, there are still some critical areas where the judge has yet to issue rulings. They are: Defendant statements The government wants “self-serving” defendant statements excluded as hearsay testimony, and the defense agrees up to a point. “There are no exceptions to the hearsay rule,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan Dasher told the court on Tuesday. It gets complicated in cases where a government agent might be called to testify about their interviews with a defendant before the person was charged. The defense says the government is guilty of over-analyzing the issue. “Of course the defendants are going to say they did not do it because they didn’t in this case,” one attorney said. Dasher does not want the defense finding ways to put statements from the defendants in the record which his team cannot then cross-examine. Microbiological test results The government wants to introduce as evidence at trial the microbiological test results from both private and government laboratories as routine business records and the findings of an outgoing outbreak investigation. At Tuesday’s hearing, Department of Justice attorney Mary Englehart said the government would call experts on laboratory testing who could be cross-examined by the defense, but not the actual scientist or tester responsible for each test. Defense objections to that are many. They argue the government’s plan denies them the right to cross-examine those actually responsible for the tests and to challenge their reliability. Tuesday’s oral arguments on the tests were also a prelude to new information that may emerge at trial. For example, Englehart said that Salmonella test results from one of the labs hired by PCA were positive so often that it set up a “hot room” just to handle all the incoming samples that were contaminated. Illnesses and deaths The final undecided issue is how much the government will be able to bring the illnesses and deaths many blame on PCA’s products shipped from its Blakely, GA, plant into a trial that is largely about financial conspiracy and fraud. If the defense gets its way, Sands would by “judicial notice” say at the beginning of the trial that Salmonella is a dangerous pathogen and peanuts contaminated by it were shipped into interstate commerce, and that would be it. The prosecution team argues the Salmonella illnesses and how they came about are part of the overall story that must be told for the jury to understand everything that occurred during the period covered by the indictment. Parnell, his brother Michael, and Mary Wilkerson, the former PCA quality control manager, face trial in connection with a 76-count, 52-page indictment against them arising from the sale of Salmonella-contaminated peanuts that led to a multistate outbreak in 2008-09 that sickened 700 and killed nine.