Because the defense attorney for Austin “Jack” DeCoster has raised a “novel constitutional issue that appears to be a matter of first impression,” assistant U.S. District Attorney Peter E. Deegan Jr. has asked the judge for more time to respond. DeCoster, who is awaiting sentencing on a federal misdemeanor, claims he cannot be incarcerated or even confined to his home in Maine with so much as an ankle bracelet because the guilty plea he’s offered is for a crime involving strict liability, meaning intent was never an issue. An issue of “first impression” is a legal case for which there is no binding legal authority, so the court is being asked to decide an original issue. Usually such issues cannot be decided by relying on precedent, and no higher court has made a ruling that might be relied upon. Iowa U.S. District Court Judge Mark W. Bennett responded to Deegan’s request for more time by extending the government’s deadline for filing a response from today to the close of business next Thursday, Oct. 23. The defense motion seeks to have the federal judge in Sioux City rule favorably on both the plea agreement the government entered into with DeCoster and a finding that the defendant’s incarceration or confinement would violate the U.S. Constitution. For the 71-year-old DeCoster, getting through the criminal charges against him, his 51-year-old son, Peter, and their Quality Egg family trust without doing any time behind bars has emerged as a priority. In June, Peter DeCoster also pleaded guilty to a single “strict liability” misdemeanor. Quality Egg LLC pleaded guilty as a corporate entity to two federal misdemeanors and the felony charge of bribing a public official. Together, the three defendants agreed to pay fines totaling $7 million. However, the constitutional issue and appeals of certain information in the Presentencing Investigative Report (PSIR), which remains sealed by the court, have held up sentencing. The charges resulted from a federal investigation of the 2010 Salmonella outbreak that saw DeCoster-owned egg farms in Iowa recall more than a half-billion shell eggs.