One of Stewart Parnell’s many attorneys has withdrawn as counsel in the Peanut Corporation of America criminal case now approaching the second anniversary of its original criminal indictment. According to court documents, Atlanta-based attorneys William B. Hill Jr. and Alexander J. Bartko, have notified the court that the national firm of Polsinelli P.C. is no longer representing Parnell, who was found guilty in mid-September on multiple federal felony counts. In the notice of withdrawal filed with the U.S. District Court in Albany, GA, the Polsinelli attorneys stated that Kenneth B. Hodges III of Atlanta-based Flynn Peeler & Phillips has “been substituted as new counsel for Defendant Stewart Parnell.” That’s a little confusing in that Hodges and attorneys Edward Scott Austin, Justin Michael Lugar and Thomas Jack Bondurant Jr. from the Roanoke, VA-based Gentry Locke law firm have all been on Parnell’s defense team since charges were originally brought on Feb. 15, 2013. Attorney Eleanor Stone from Atlanta’s King & Spalding left the team about a week before a federal jury returned guilty verdicts against the three defendants who went to trial. In the four-plus months since the jury verdict, the three PCA defendants have remained free on bail while their attorneys pursue motions to have federal Judge W. Louis Sands either set aside the guilty verdicts or order a new trial for a variety of reasons. They range from concerns about jurors doing their own research on the fatal 2008-09 Salmonella outbreak that led to the indictments to whether government attorneys made improper closing statements to the jury about food safety. Since the jury verdicts, motions, hearings, and most document filings in the case have been either sealed or held behind closed doors, making it impossible to know which, if any, of the defense’s post-trial strategies are gaining any traction. Attorneys not involved say that overturning a jury verdict is one of the most difficult jobs any lawyer can face, but it does happen. Parnell and his peanut-broker brother, Michael Parnell, were convicted on a total of 97 felony counts in the fraud and conspiracy case. A third defendant, Mary Wilkerson, was convicted on one of two counts of obstruction of justice with which she was charged. She was in charge of quality control at the Blakely, GA, peanut-processing plant most associated with the outbreak that sickened more than 700 and killed nine people. The government reached plea deals with Blakely plant manager Samuel Lightsey and Blakely operations manager Daniel Kilgore. Each opted out of the trial by pleading guilty to a handful of charges. Michael Parnell continues to be represented by Athens, GA, defense attorneys Edward D. Tolley and Devin Hartness Smith, both of Cook Noell Tolley & Bates. Albany attorney Thomas G. Ledford represents Wilkerson. He was appointed by the court. Bondurant also represents Michael Parnell and Wilkerson on joint actions involving all three defendants. Pre-sentence investigative reports for Stewart Parnell and Samuel Lightsey have been filed with the court. Sands went along with a defense suggestion to postpone any appeals of the pre-sentence reports until post-trial rulings are completed.