Pre-Trial Rulings Mount in Peanut Corp. CEO Criminal Proceeding
A federal court in Georgia has entered a number of orders in criminal
proceedings, expected to go to trial July 14, 2014, against the former owner
of the Peanut Corp. of America, implicated in a 2008-2009 nationwide
Salmonella outbreak that sickened hundreds and led to at least nine deaths;
among the orders was one denying the prosecution’s request for a psychiatric
examination of Stewart Parnell. United States v. Parnell, No. 13-cr-12 (U.S.
Dist. Ct., M.D. Ga., Albany Div., order entered July 10, 2014). Details about the
criminal indictment appear in Issue 472 of this Update.
While Parnell’s expert, whose testimony as to the defendant’s purported
ADHD condition has been excluded, described Parnell as “fidgety, restless,
excitable,” the court apparently found that this testimony did not otherwise
indicate that Parnell would be unable to focus at trial. “Even if Stewart Parnell
has an attention deficit disorder, Dr. Conley testified he is capable of focusing
on matters he finds important,” the court said. “Moreover, Parnell’s attorneys
could call his attention to matters requiring his assistance.”
The court has also denied Parnell’s request to stop the government from
seeking documents or information from the company’s former counsel.
Parnell argued that the government would improperly use a “taint team”
to identify privileged documents and that efforts to collect discovery now
are untimely. The government had indicated to the court that any company
documents from its former counsel would go through a taint team and
Parnell could give the taint attorney a joint-defense agreement to determine
whether it applies to any of the documents. The court found no authority to
support Parnell’s claim that the proposed use of a taint team was improper or
would violate his rights. He also failed to support his argument that the taint
team must give the documents first to the defense before providing them to
the prosecutors. The court further disagreed that the government’s discovery
efforts were untimely. See Law360, July 10, 2014.