It’s been a long haul, but Tuesday’s one-time peanut executive petitioned to vacate his conviction and sentence before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta.
Parnell was the top executive at the now-defunct Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) when in 2008-09, its peanut processing plant in Georgia was found to be the source of a multiple state Salmonella outbreak that sickened thousands and resulted in several deaths. PCA’s peanut butter and paste recall was among the largest in history.
His attorney, Amy Lee Copeland of Savannah, is said to be the one you want if you ever find yourself in similar circumstances. Herself, a former assistant U.S. attorney, Copeland, Tuesday filed a 66-page Appellant brief on behalf of Stewart Parnell.
Copeland opened her brief with four pages of “interested parties” that remain involved in Parnell’s case.
After jury conviction, Parnell was sentenced to federal imprisonment for 28 years. His conviction and sentence were upheld by the 11th Circuit in 2018.
He was, however, able to file as a federal inmate a federal Herbs Corpus petition, known as a 2255 Motion, on Sept. 6, 2019. He got a hearing before the federal Magistrate judge for the Middle District of Georgia, but rulings went against Parnell at the District Court.
The local, state, and national reporting of the nine deaths related to the Salmonella outbreak and the damage done to the Georgia peanut industry are documented in Copeland’s brief and juror knowledge at the trial.
The 11th Circuit permits Parnell to proceed with appealability on two issues: jury prejudice and ineffective assistance.
A jury in 2014 convicted Parnell on 67 counts for conspiracy, introduction of adulterated and misbranded food into interstate commerce, instate shipments fraud, wire fraud, and obstruction of justice stemming from the Salmonella outbreak tied to PCA.
Parnell has been in federal prison since 2015, with a projected release date of July 26, 2038.
Copeland cites “community prejudice” as concerned by the 11th Circuit’s so-called Skilling doctrine.
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