Prosecutors in the Vernon Hershberger case filed a motion Friday asking the judge to revoke the raw milk farmer’s release order, and throw him in jail.
The prosecution move comes less than a week after Hershberger was acquitted on three misdemeanor criminal charges in connection with failure to have retail and dairy licenses. He was convicted of violating a holding order.
The state’s main evidence that Hershberger violated his release agreement of January 2012 is an article from the Wisconsin Capital Times in which, according to the motion, “Hershberger admits that he violated the bail conditions ‘all along.’…Specifically, the article notes that Hershberger ‘never stopped selling raw milk and other farm products to members of his “buyers club.” ‘ “
The motion adds that Hershberger’s “conduct…appears to be similar to the conduct forming the factual basis for the offense of conviction, violation of the DATCP Holding Order.” It “requests that the Court exercise its authority…and revoke the order releasing the defendant.”
The problem for the state may be that the “Bond and Conditions of Release” of Hershberger in early 2012 specifies as its key conditions that Hershberger not sell or produce food unless he has a retail license, a dairy plant license, or a milk producer license–conditions that the jury acquitting him seemed to lift by pronouncing him not guilty of violating laws requiring the licenses. What a convoluted situation.
Moreover, the state tried and failed in March 2012 to have Hershberger jailed for violating his release agreement when the judge refused to consider a letter from the state making the request; the judge insisted on a formal motion. Now, more than a year later, the motion seems to have been filed, just days after the state suffered a major court defeat. These guys are definitely not the most graceful losers.
Elizabeth Rich, one of Hershberger’s lawyer, said she was “very disappointed with the state’s action. We had hoped the jury’s verdict last Saturday would lead to the dialog Vernon has always said he wants with DATCP, to try to build rapport between farmers and consumers.”
The state will seek to have the motion heard as soon as Monday, when a telephone hearing is due to be held to set a date for the sentencing hearing in connection with the holding order conviction.