Reedsburg Times-Press (Wisconsin)
by Tim Damos, Capital Newspapers
BARABOO — The legal arguments of an Amish dairy farmer representing himself in a criminal case miss the mark, according to a Sauk County judge.
“The defendant fails to develop any argument that makes sense,” Sauk County Circuit Court Judge Guy Reynolds stated in a decision filed Friday.
Grazin’ Acres farm owner Vernon Hershberger of Loganville filed a motion to dismiss the case. In the motion, he cited provisions in the federal and state constitutions, as well as biblical verses. Reynolds denied the motion.
Hershberger is charged with the unlicensed operation of a food establishment, unlicensed milk production, unlicensed dairy plant operation and the violation of a hold order placed on his products by state regulators who raided his farm in June 2010.
A three-day jury trial is slated to begin Sept. 25.
In his motion to dismiss, Hershberger said the criminal complaint against him was invalid because the state official who signed the document had not taken an oath of office and was not a “private citizen” who was injured as a result of the alleged crime.
Reynolds rejected both of those arguments.
“The defendant fails to cite any law which might possibly support either proposition,” the judge wrote in his decision. “The court is aware of no such law.”
Regarding a portion of Hershberger’s motion that cited a portion of the Wisconsin State Constitution that sets forth the powers of county boards, Reynolds stated:
“In this portion of the defendant’s argument, he suggests that his farm is actually a village governed by a board of supervisors, which, somehow, the court gathers, means that the state’s laws and rules do not apply to him. This contention is nonsensical.”
Hershberger contends he is not subject to state licensing rules because he operates a members-only store in which people consume products from the animals, of which they hold partial ownership.
In a letter to supporters last week, Hershberger said he felt a “deep sense of pity” for prosecutors and government officials who participated in the case against him.
“Do they actually think that God will stand idly by as they conspire to wreck the good things that come directly from Creation?” Hershberger said.
“We read of many instances in the Bible where God with his mighty power put a curse on people like that.”
Organic dairy farmer Vernon Hershberger (pictured) has a farm near Loganville that was shut down on Wednesday, June 2, 2010 for operating without a license. Nonetheless, Hershberger defied orders and began operations on Thursday, June 3, 2010. The raid on Hershberger’s farm was the first since Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed the raw milk bill. Photographs taken on Thursday, June 3, 2010. Kyle McDaniel – State Journal (Published 6/9/10) Vernon Hershberger contines to defy a state order to stop selling raw milk. He says his sales are legal because they are limited to members-only customers of the store on his Sauk County farm.