“The 250 or so people attending my presentation Saturday on “America’s Underground Food War” at the Mother Earth News Fair in Pennsylvania broke into applause when I told them, near the end of the talk, that Alvin Schlangen had been acquitted of all charges Thursday in connection with his raw milk and private food case.
Like the members of Schlangen’s food club, they no doubt wanted to begin humming, “Ding Dong, the Wicked Witch Is Dead” from The Wizard of Oz.
Wish it were so. But the Minnesota Department of Agriculture has made clear that it won’t go as easily as the Wizard of Oz’s Wicked Witch of the West. Its statement following the Schlangen verdict wasn’t merely defiant, but defiant in a haughty way.
It said it has “respect (for) the role of the jury.” But in fact, it not only has no respect, but it actually has complete contempt for both the role of the jury and the rule of law. How can I tell? When the MDA says, “The law on this matter is clear, and the jury was tasked with making a narrow finding” of guilt or innocence, it seeks to marginalize the jury’s role and decision.
Obviously, the jury didn’t think the law was clear at all. Or, even worse from the MDA’s viewpoint, the law was clear and Schlangen was found to not have violated any of the laws alleged by the MDA. So the MDA is saying the jury was wrong.
Further, the MDA suggests the jury’s finding was of limited impact by saying the entire matter was about “a narrow finding…” In point of fact, the jury’s verdict was on fairly important and wide-impact matters covering private distribution of milk and other foods. I’d say it was a broad finding.
And finally, the MDA suggests that because the jury possibly struggled in its decision–“deliberated for as long as they did shows that they found the decision a difficult one to make”–the matter is somehow still in limbo. …”