The Pre-Sentence Investigative Report (PSIR) for Stewart Parnell has been submitted to the court — ordinarily a sign that sentencing in a federal criminal case is drawing near — but apparently not in this case. Before PSIRs for Michael Parnell and Mary Wilkerson were readied, attorneys for all three defendants in the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) criminal prosecution jointly asked for an indefinite continuance for objections to all pre-sentence reports. PSIRs, prepared by the Probation Office for U.S. District Courts, are “the most influential document in the sentencing of criminal defendants,” according to the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice. PSIRs have been used by federal judges in one form or another since the 1920s. Defendants may appeal the content of their PSIR, which are filed with the court under seal. Sometimes information from the PSIR comes out during an appeal. The reports typically focus on the charges, the defendant’s past criminal record, sentencing options and background on the offender. “Due to the current procedural posture of the instant case, no sentencing date has yet been set for any of the Defendants,” states the defense joint motion filed on Tuesday. “As a result, the Defendants respectfully request this Court postpone the setting of any date for filing of objections until after a time in which a sentencing date has been established.” Signing the joint motion were defense attorneys Thomas J. Bondurant Jr, E. Scott Austin, Justin M. Lugar and Kenneth B. Hodges for Stewart Parnell; Edward D. Tolley and Devin Hartness Smith for Michael Parnell, and Thomas G. Ledford for Mary Wilkerson. If Judge W. Louis Sands grants the requested indefinite continuance, it would free the attorneys from filing any challenges they have to information contained in the PSIRs until sentencing is scheduled. If the indefinite continuance is not granted, the first deadline for a PSIR appeal comes on Jan. 12 for Stewart Parnell. A series of jury verdicts delivered last Sept. 19 after a near two-month trial went mostly against the three defendants, who were found guilty on a total of 98 federal felony counts. Stewart Parnell, the one-time owner of the three-state peanut processing business, was found guilty on 67 counts charging fraud and conspiracy, along with intentionally shipping tainted food. His peanut-broker brother, Michael Parnell, was found guilty on 30 felony counts, which included his participation in the conspiracy outlined by government prosecutors. Mary Wilkerson, who was quality-control manger at PCA’s Blakely, GA, plant, was found guilty on one of two counts of obstruction of justice. In addition to the three defendants who went to trial last July in Albany, GA, two other PCA managers pleaded guilty to related charges under plea agreements with the government. Plant manager Samuel Lightsey and operations manager Daniel Kilgore offered extensive testimony at trial against the others. In the nearly 16 weeks since the trial ended, defense attorneys have been pursuing post-trial motions for both court- ordered acquittals and, in lieu of that, new trials. For reasons that are not entirely clear, Sands has allowed most of the post-trial arguments to go on in secret by sealing most of the motions, orders and documents involved. The court has also held at least two closed hearings since the trial. The criminal case was played out almost entirely in public from the time the original indictment was unsealed in February 2013 through the end of the trial in mid-September. Shortly after the trial, however, the defense came up with affidavits charging jurors with doing their own research on the 2008-09 Salmonella outbreak that led to the charges. Since then, substantive court records have been sealed in the case.