Any day you can get out of jail early is a good day. But it remains very doubtful that Mary Wilkerson will get out even a day early. She has one year, seven months, and 24 days left to serve at the federal correctional facility in Marianna, FL.
But her pro bono attorney, Thomas G. Ledford, has filed court documents to preserve evidence from the trial that saw her convicted. The jury didn’t say guilty for her on fraud and conspiracy issues at the Peanut Corporation of America. Rather, the jury decided she had violated federal law in the aftermath at the Georgia company. She was convicted of obstruction of justice f0r lying to investigators and sentenced to five years.
The attorney wants the case file and other evidence from thet trial preserved for a possible appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Ledford, who the court appointed to represent Wilkerson for her trial, has asked the courts to preserve records and exhibits for future appeal to the Supreme Court. His request came within the 14-day window for making such demands, although there is no record that another appeal has actually been sought.
Both the federal trial and appellate cases in United States v. Stewart Parnell, Michael Parnell and Mary Wilkerson are no longer even active. It became history after 1,952 days when David J. Smith, Clerk of Court for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, entered as the mandate or final word of the appellate court the 21-page ruling a three-judge panel issued Jan. 23 this year.
And if that were not final enough, Smith also returned seven boxes of exhibits to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia. It is that action that attorney Ledford has now challenged. He says an appeal to the Supreme Court in his Wilkerson’s case is possible.
Wilkerson, along with brothers Stewart and Michael Parnell, were convicted on federal criminal charges in the District Court trial, which began five years, four months and six days ago on Feb. 15, 2013.
On that date, after a four-year federal investigation, the U.S. Justice Department brought a 76-count felony indictment against five former executives and associates of the now-defunct Peanut Corporation of America (PCA). The peanut processing company was blamed for the 2008-09 multi-state Salmonella outbreak that sickened thousands and caused at least nine deaths.
Charges involved business practices, including fraud and conspiracy, wire fraud and obstruction of justice, along with allowing misbranded and adulterated food to reach the market. No charges were filed directly involving the illnesses or deaths.
A jury convicted the Parnells and Wilkerson in 2014. Two other PCA employees testified for the government at the trial in exchange for reduced sentences.
As reported on June 13, the 11th Circuit denied a petition for rehearing either by another three-judge panel or by the entire court. That set up the appellate court’s action to enter the January opinion as the “mandate” so the 11th Circuit could be done with it.
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