Since it began almost six years ago, the definitive court hearing always seems to be about one month away.
The United States v Miller’s Organic Farm and Amos Miller’s next such hearing is set for September 26. At this one, Amos Miller of Bird-in-Hand, PA must have his $305,000 fine paid up or he risks going to jail.
Federal Judge Edward G. Smith has called this hearing “after considering the plaintiff’s motion for an order to show cause why 1) Amos Miller should not be incarcerated as a further civil contempt sanction, and 2) Rebecca R.Miller should not be added as a defendant to this action…”
Rebecca R. Miller is the wife of Amos Miller and co-owner of Miller’s Organic Farm.
Smith has ordered all parties in the case to appear in his Easton, PA, federal District Court. At the hearing, the court will entertain a “more complete judgment order” to bring about compliance with the previous but still unpaid order, demanding Miller pay $305,065.72.
Incarcerating Miller for his continuing civil contempt until defendants “make such payments” is also under the judge’s activity consideration.
In August, Miller successfully brought national attention to his cause, primarily by getting his version of his story told by Tucker Carlson on Fox News.
“This is one of those stories that is hard to believe,” said the Fox News host. “They’re going after an Amish farmer.”
The report was about the federal government making an example of an organic Amish farmer. But as everyone who followed it for years, it isn’t that simple.
Miller owns farms in multiple states and distributes food nationally through a club system. His raw milk was linked to a death in 2014. And USDA has worked since 2016 to bring Miller into compliance with food safety regulations, including those for slaughtering animals then sold for human consumption.
Miller has a knack for promising to comply and resigning from any commitment. After changing attorneys several times, he’s engaged a “sovereign citizen” organization in his defense that also muddies the waters.
For the Sept. 26 hearing, he says:
“Defendants created go fund me accounts specifically to raise money to pay the civil contempt sanction. Defendants have raised $20,000 and anticipate more over the coming weeks.
“Defendants now give written notice that they intend to present evidence to affirmatively establish their inability to pay $305,065.72 in civil sanctions.
“However, Defendants acknowledge that they are raising money daily through a newly created GoFundMe account, which should provide more resources by Sept. 26, 2022.”
Miller plans to testify at the Sept. 26 hearing.
“He will testify that it is against his Amish beliefs to request money from individuals without having earned it through work, but he reluctantly consented to the creation of GoFundMe accounts to raise funds needed to keep his farm operating and at least one fund created to raise money to pay the civil contempt sanction.”
Miller witnesses are also expected to testify that funds cannot be released to pay a federal contempt fine because of the terms of service under which they were raised.
Meanwhile, the Third Circuit returned Miller’s recent request for a review of Smith’s rulings, dismissing it for lack of appellate jurisdiction. “There is no basis for jurisdiction over Appellant’s appeal, which seeks to appeal ‘comments’ by the District Court but fails to identify any specific order being appealed,” the Third Circuit ruled.
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