Federal Judge Edward G. Smith has his man. Agricultural expert George David Lapsley was named Thursday by Smith as the Court’s expert in the 3-year old proceedings involving Amos Miller and Miller’s Organic Farm.
The order gives Lapsley broad authority, including unimpeded access and power to make unannounced site visits to all Miller properties. Lapsley’s assignment includes “overseeing, monitoring, and facilitating –and reporting to the Court and the parties on the defendant’s compliance with the injunction and enforcement provisions in the Court’s contemporaneous (Feb.2022) SECOND CONTEMPT Sanctions Order.”
Since 2016, the USDA has used civil actions to correct Miller’s alleged slaughter practices with a lack of inspection and national distribution of meat products. When Miller appeared to violate a previous court injunction, the current litigation was resumed in 2019.
In addition to appointing Lapsley as the Court’s evidentiary expert, Judge Smith took some testimony on the pending motions to dismiss Miller’s lawyer, address a second contempt of court order against Miller, and regarding the expert appointment.
Miller last October asked the Judge he could replace his Dallas attorney with a so-called sovereign citizens organization, but Smith nixed that idea.
Last July, the Judge found Miller in contempt of Court, and his order included a $250,000 fine. Miller was raising money on the internet to pay that fine, and when he appeared to be making progress toward compliance, Smith said the $250,000 fine was being held in abeyance.
Lapsley Thursday was tasked by the Court in determining whether Miller violates “the Second Contempt Sanctions Order.” He asked to check out all Miller properties and businesses for:
- any amenable livestock/poultry slaughter or processing operations (including custom-exempt operations) at any site;
- distribution, shipping, offer for sale, or sales of amenable meat or poultry products;
- taking, sending, or having sent/delivered, for the purpose of slaughter and/or processing, any amenable animals to any federally inspected or non-federally-inspected slaughter and/or processing establishment, facility, or individual;
- purchasing, handling, storing, and/or receiving any live amenable livestock or poultry intended for slaughter in the near future;
- purchasing, handling, storing, or receiving any amenable meat or poultry products for further processing and/or for resale, distribution, offer for sale, sale, donation, or distribution to customers; or
- taking in-person, internet, telephone, fax, email, or other orders—or acting on such orders—for amenable meat/poultry products of defendants or their agents (including but not limited to agents such as Miller’s family members, Miller’s-associated food clubs/vendors, David Lantz, Miller’s employees, or the Groff family);
Miller’s multistate operations are based in Bird-In-Hand, PA Smith was appointed in 2013 to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by President Barack Obama.
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