The year 2023 ends with brothers Stewart and Michael Parnell in very different places in their Habeas Corpus appeals at the Circuit Court in Atlanta. Stewart Parnell, who was permitted to appeal, has exchanged arguments with the government. After getting an undetermined extension, Michael Parnell has yet to file for appealability issues or exchange written briefs with government attorneys.
It isn’t known if Michael’s Habeas appeal has stalled out or if it will remain active in 2024. His attorney, Elliott M. Harding, Esq. of Charlottesville, VA, has not responded to an inquiry about the case by Food Safety News. Harding is allowed to file without a deadline.
Five years ago, the one-time peanut executives petitioned to vacate their convictions and sentences, which, as 2024 begins, will remain 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.
Michael Parnell was a peanut broker associated with PCA.
After a 2014 jury trial, both were found guilty of numerous food safety felonies and sentenced in 2015 to lengthy prison terms. The new year finds the brothers continue to be incarcerated, Stewart, 69, at a federal prison in West Virginia and Michael, 64, at one in North Carolina.
As federal inmates, in 2019, they filed Herbs Corpus petitions known as 2255 Motions. They were first heard before the federal Magistrate judge for the Middle District of Georgia, but rulings went against them at the District Court.
Stewart Parnell’s petition, which has gone the farthest, has documented the pre-trial local, state, and national reporting of the nine deaths related to the Salmonella outbreak and the damage done to the Georgia peanut industry was juror knowledge at the trial.
Stewart Parnell was allowed to proceed with appealability on two issues: jury prejudice and ineffective assistance.
Stewart Parnell was convicted 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.
As they begin 2024, Stewart Parnell has 14 more years to serve and there are seven years remaining on Michael Parnell’s sentence.
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