Former peanut exec Stewart Parnell requests to be released on appeal bond

Dive Brief:

  • Stewart Parnell, former president of the Peanut Corporation of America, has requested to be released on appeal bond like his brother, Michael Parnell, who has already filed his appeal. The brothers were convicted on criminal charges in conjunction with a salmonella-contaminated peanut butter outbreak.
  • Both Parnells were taken into custody by the U.S. Marshals Service since they received prison sentences of 28 years (Stewart) and 20 years (Michael) on Sept. 21.
  • "[Stewart Parnell's attorney Justin M. Lugar] claims that those issues first raised in the Michael Parnell appeal should be considered as part of his client’s appeal as well in the interests of 'judicial economy,'" Food Safety News reported.

Dive Insight:

"Due to the district court’s erroneous finding that he presents a flight risk and his appeal presents no substantive questions of law or fact, Stewart has now been in prison for almost two months," Lugar wrote in his motion. "Expedited briefing is necessary to remedy this injustice and allow Stewart to rejoin his family while this Court considers his appeal."

Lugar wrote that if his client were a flight risk, he would have already fled federal jurisdiction, as he had chances to relocate his family to a non-extradition country when he traveled to African and South American countries to help with agriculture technologies.

According to Parnell's appeal, lab work used to test peanut butter samples was allegedly not subjected to defense cross-examination, and some of those tests were expected by the defense to be negative but turned out positive. Also disclosed at the trial was that Kellogg's tested the entire peanut butter cracker, instead of isolating the peanut butter.

"Without confrontation, this evidence would never have been heard. It begs the question then as to how much evidence was improperly kept from the jury because Stewart was not permitted to confront the witnesses and challenge their testimony," according to the appeal. "There can be little doubt that Stewart was unconstitutionally prevented from confronting his accusers by the district court’s erroneous inclusion of testimonial testing evidence without testimony from the individuals involved."

"Stewart Parnell’s appeal suggests that there are substantial questions of law or fact for the appellate court to decide, and that it likely will determine how similar food safety cases are prosecuted in the future," according to Food Safety News.

Filed Under: Corporate Food Safety