Early on in his 2006 raw milk case, Michael Schmidt quoted his then-lawyer Clayton Ruby as saying that cases like his are won and lost in the court of public opinion. No doubt the same dynamic is at work in this case. However, this time prosecution lawyers are a little more clued in as to the danger which public opinion represents for their cause, and they are determined to nip it in the bud. Now as to why the judge would so readily go along with it, that’s another matter.
David Gumpert predicts that attempts at suppressing this story will only fuel the public’s desire to know what is forbidden, and thus their strategem will be doomed to fail big-time. If ever a story had the makings for going viral, this one certainly does.
Facebook posts seem to be all the coverage that this news blackout is getting in the Canadian media.
American food rights blogger David Gumpert is stepping in to the fray with both feet, in his latest post on what’s reported (on Facebook) as being a “Mainstream Media publication ban” on the case:
From his “The Complete Patient” blog:
“With a prosecutor upset about disclosures on this blog about the scrapie-related sheep-napping case, a Canadian judge earlier today took the extraordinary step of imposing a news blackout on the case.
The effect of the blackout was immediate: The National Post, a major Canadian publication, immediately took down an article published Friday about how a sheep identified by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency as a carrier of scrapie may well have come from the U.S., and not from Montana Jones’ herd of rare Shropshire sheep. If that is the case, then her sheep were likely destroyed as part of a charade to shift blame, and the charges against her and Michael Schmidt are a sham as well….”
Read more on The Complete Patient.
Adrian Humphries Feb. 27th article in the National Post newspaper, titled “Infected sheep may have come from U.S., not Ontario farm where officials slaughtered entire flock, court hears” is the first story we’re aware of to cover this trial in the mainstream media. It seems new pieces of the puzzle have come to light in the course of the preliminary hearing. The inexplicably last-minute arrival from the Crown of hundreds more pages of disclosure has prompted postponement of the preliminary hearing to late April.
Among this latest disclosure, it seems, is evidence suggesting the possibility that the diseased sheep found on the Alberta farm — which all along has been asserted by the CFIA to have been from Montana Jones — and which was used as justification for the quarantine and slaughter of her entire herd — that this diseased sheep was possibly not from her farm at all, but from the United States.
Which, when you put two and two together, raises uncomfortable questions as to whether Montana’s flock was “sacrificed” to protect cross-boarder trade, and whether what was purported to be concern about eradicating scrapie in Canada might actually have been willful blindness to its actual source. No wonder the CFIA are now seeking a publication ban.
That publication ban is being sought today in Lindsay court. Supporters of the defendants are being encouraged to come out to the court and witness the proceedings. That’s today Monday March 2, 2015 at 9:30 am at 44 Kent St. in Lindsay, Ontario.
From the National Post:
“The bizarre case of a flock of rare sheep — purportedly stolen from an Ontario farm by agricultural activists to thwart a federal kill order during a disease scare — was adjourned after government documents suggested the infected sheep that sparked the high-profile standoff could have actually been an animal from the United States. Continue reading
Supporters of the defendants are being encouraged to come out to Monday’s court date at 9:30 am, Monday March 2, 2015 as the Crown argues why a publication ban would serve the public interest in this case. At least that’s what we imagine they might argue. Lindsay court is at 44 Kent St. in Lindsay, ON.
Montana Jones, Karen Selick, Michael Schmidt. Photo via theccf.ca
“The preliminary inquiry in this matter started as scheduled on February 17, 2015. It was supposed to run on 10 consecutive court days, with an additional week at the end of April.
But on the second day of the prelim, lawyer Shawn Buckley was suddenly handed another 104 pages of documents that had never been disclosed previously by the prosecutor Damien Frost. Mr. Buckley had sent Mr. Frost a lengthy list of the documents he required approximately two years earlier, but Mr. Frost’s client, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)—for reasons known only to themselves—had failed to provide these important papers. Over the next two days, additional disclosure was handed to Mr. Buckley, bringing the total for the week to 382 pages. Continue reading
From David E. Gumpert’s “The Complete Patient” blog:
Crown disclosure in this case, as of Feb 3, 2013 measured 14″. Photo Michael Schmidt.
“Add an additional piece of evidence to the list I provided in my previous blog post indicating desperation, and possible corruption, in the CFIA prosecution of Canadian farmers Michael Schmidt and Montana Jones.
In a 22-page letter presented today to the prosecutor’s office in the case, the defendants’ lawyer, Shawn Buckley, argues that the CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) deliberately withheld from the defense key evidence about which of the sheep showed signs of scrapie and the course of the testing for the serious farm animal disease….” Continue reading
American raw milk journalist and food rights champion David E. Gumpert is following the case with interest, as evidenced by a recent post on his “The Complete Patient” blog. See excerpt below:
“In Canada, Stage Set for Food Rights Show Trial”
Michael Schmidt. Photo via Complete Patient blog.
“That sheep-napping case involving Canadian farmers Michael Schmidt and Montana Jones is turning into a major criminal and political drama.
If you’ll remember, this case stems from a 2010 dispute between the Canadian government and farm owenr Montana Jones over whether her rare Shropshire sheep should be slaughtered because they were supposedly exposed to the serious disease, scrapie. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), the equivalent to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, insisted the sheep needed to be slaughtered to determine for certain whether they harbored scrapie. Jones insisted there was no evidence they did, and sought to negotiate a compromise whereby her farm would be quarantined for up to five years to be certain. Continue reading
Observed at the Cobourg & Lindsay Courthouses
Farmer Montana Jones, lawyer Shawn Buckley, and farmer Michael Schmidt, at an earlier court appearance from a few years back. This case has been dragging on for quite some time now.
On the first day of the preliminary inquiry for Montana Jones and Michael Schmidt, a miffed-looking CFIA investigator was observed hanging around the Cobourg courthouse at the end of the day. He had set himself up in the courtroom first thing in the morning, with his computer and printer, all ready to take notes for the day—and presumably ready to pass notes to Crown counsel. But he suddenly found himself subject to the same rule as ordinary mortals: namely, a court order excluding witnesses from listening to the testimony of other witnesses. Continue reading
Readers of this blog are probably aware that Michael Schmidt will be in court yet again in February, 2015—this time, defending against criminal charges pertaining to the disappearance of sheep from the farm of Ontario sheep breeder Montana Jones. Montana also faces criminal charges.
What’s Happening in February, 2015?
View from the stage at a fundraising concert for Montana Jones at her farm in the summer of 2012.
The preliminary inquiry is scheduled to take place from February 17 to March 1, inclusive. A further week has now been added: April 27 to May 1. That’s fifteen full courtroom days of preliminary inquiry.
The purpose of a “prelim” is normally to allow the court to decide whether the Crown has sufficient evidence to warrant going to trial. In Michael and Montana’s case, the defendants want the case to go to trial, because they want to proceed with a constitutional challenge to the draconian Health of Animals Act. (This is the law that forced the slaughter, without Montana’s consent and without adequate compensation, of dozens of perfectly healthy rare sheep.) Continue reading