Monsanto Protestors Found Not Guilty during Yolo County Trial Thursday

Judge says Government (DA Jeff Reisig) Failed to Meet Its Burden

By Crescenzo Vellucci

WOODLAND – In a surprising turn of events, protestors were found not guilty in Yolo County Superior Court Thursday of breaking the law in front of the bio-seed giant’s Woodland facility – they won acquittal despite District Attorney Jeff Reisig’s office doing everything it could to frustrate the anti-Monsanto demonstrators for nearly a year.

Yolo County Superior Court Judge Paul Richardson, in a lengthy recitation from the bench, found the “Monsanto 10” not guilty. There are nine defendants now – another defendant died unexpectedly in February.

“The burden is on the government (Reisig’s office filed charges after the arrest May 22, 2017), and the government has not sustained its burden. There have been deficiencies,” said Richardson, noting that there was no evidence that the protestors were on public property, a key element to the charge of “loitering.”

The judge was right. The government did fail. Both Sheriff’s Dept. witnesses, an officer and Sgt., were forced to admit under withering questioning that there was no law enforcement video, audio or photographs taken. And both could not  identify most of the defendants from memory. They also failed to justify the arrests in the first place.

“Of course we’re happy the judge ruled in our favor although we are disappointed we were not able to present our extensive evidence as to why we were there – to expose Monsanto as a corporate criminal doing great harm to all of us, especially children and our planet,” said Robert Saunders, one of the defendants.

Saunders, and six other defendants – Pam Osgood, Shirley Osgood, Susan Roberts-Emery, Lena Romero, Steven Payan and Mauro DeOliveira – represented themselves. Another defendant, Andy Conn,  passed away last month. Defendants are from Sacramento, Grass Valley and other parts of Northern California, and New York.

Two National Lawyers Guild/Sacramento Chapter recruited pro bono lawyers, Rich Dudek and Richard Staff, represented Elliot Adams and Kahla Mackey.

It was Saunders who was a particular thorn in the side of the DA, Sheriff’s Dept, the County of Yolo and Monsanto.

After Reisig’s office reduced charges from misdemeanors to infractions, it robbed defendants of their right to court-appointed counsel and, more importantly, a jury trial where the protestors wanted to “put Monsanto on trial.”

But Saunders, who is not an attorney, took the DA to task. Saunders subpoenaed deputies and Monsanto executives. He also filed several briefs with the court, including a claim that the government failed to produce any evidence other than a hazy eight-second video and a police report. In his motion to compel discovery, Saunders argued that the failure to get full discovery was “gamesmanship” by the DA, which “divorced” himself from the case after filing the charges.

“The DA is moving the goal posts…we should be able to examine information if it can find us not guilty,” said Saunders. He said the defense received a letter from the County and Sheriff’s Dept. referring discovery requests to the DA, and a DA’s letter stating it didn’t handle discovery for the case.

In the end, it was that failure to produce evidence that may have sealed the “not guilty” verdict. Defense attorney Dudek made what is known as a PC 1118 motion at the end of the first day in court – the motion asks the court, even before the defense presents its case, to toss out the charges based on the government’s failure to prove its case.

And that is what Judge Richardson did, noting that it was impossible, based on the testimony and lack of evidence, to determine exactly where the protestors were when arrested, and therefore it could not be proven they were guilty of blocking a “public” road, alley or crosswalk.

Sheriff Deputy Sgt. Sam Machado and Lt. Lance Faille, under cross examination, could not say for sure if those arrested were on public property. A lawyer from Monsanto also said he didn’t know if there was a public right of way when queried by the judge.

“The court has it in its power to dismiss this case in the interest of justice. (Defendants) spent a day in jail, and have appeared for every court date (at least four), and the government, the DA, never showed up. The government has a duty to prove it’s a public driveway….but there is no evidence,” Dudek said on Day 1 of the trial last week.

Dudek earlier filed a court brief claiming the loitering charge was unconstitutional as applied to free speech activities and should be immediately dismissed. Dudek argued the Yolo County loitering ordinance is a “violation of the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution (and )unduly restricting his First Amendment rights.”

The winning defendants said they have more work to do.

“As advocates who are determined to tell the real story about Monsanto, this court trial has made us more unified than ever,” said Roberts-Emery, who said that “we were at the gates of Monsanto’s Woodland facility to speak truth to the dangers of Round Up and GMO technology. We all have friends who have autistic children and grandchildren – we were at the gates of Monsanto for those children.”

Pamela Osgood, outside the courtroom, noted that the “incompetence of the government shone brightly…we won’t stop our work to provide more information to the public about Monsanto.”

Shirley Osgood echoed that, adding, “It’s good to be found not guilty…we plan to do more to educate the public on the evils of Monsanto.”

Monsanto is a scientific bio tech laboratory of death. Everything Monsanto does has to do with death. The death of soil. The death of insects. The death of plants. The death of animals. The death of free enterprise. The death of family farms. The death of human beings. The death of democracy. Monsanto needs to reap what they have sown for over a century, the corporate death penalty!

Ben Emery, a former Congressional candidate and permaculture specialist, was prepared to testify Thursday before the judge acquitted the defendants. He said afterwards: “Monsanto is a scientific bio tech laboratory of death. Everything Monsanto does has to do with death. The death of soil. The death of insects. The death of plants. The death of animals. The death of free enterprise. The death of family farms. The death of human beings. The death of democracy. Monsanto needs to reap what the have sown for over a century, the corporate death penalty.”

Demonstrators maintain that studies show Monsanto controls 92 percent of the world’s seed and conducts genetic engineering (GE) to produce GMOs (genetically modified foods), which some scientists and environmentalists insist are linked to human health, and environmental issues.

Activists cite the World Health Organization’s determination of Monsanto’s Roundup to be a “probable carcinogen” and Glyphosate has been found in groundwater 60-100 percent of rainwater around the world, said activists, who said it portends global mass pollution.

Activists said GMOs are banned or partially banned in France Switzerland, Ireland, Russia, Japan, New Zealand, Costa Rico, Austria, Germany, Greece, Peru and Hungary, among others nations. Labeling products with GMOs is a controversial issue and not mandated in the U.S., but about 60 countries have labeling.  Many polls show an overwhelming number of Americans would accept GMO labeling, they said.

“Glyphosate is the most widely used pesticide in California and in the United States.  More than 280 million pounds were used in U.S. agriculture, primarily due to the widespread adoption of genetically engineered crops.  In 2013, 10 million pounds was used in California alone, with half of that usage being sprayed in eight of the state’s poorest counties on farm fields, lawns, gardens, school grounds, and parks, with five of those poorest counties being in the south Central Valley,” according to literature to have been presented at the defendants’ trial.

But that evidence never saw the light of day after the judge’s dismissal Thursday.



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33 thoughts on “Monsanto Protestors Found Not Guilty during Yolo County Trial Thursday”

  1. John Hobbs

    “But that evidence never saw the light of day after the judge’s dismissal Thursday.”

    I’m sure you meant testimony as there is a difference. What a crock.

    1. Susan RobertsEmery

      Monsanto manager and the DA did not show up for the last two court dates. The defendants had evidence as well as testimony in regards to their case. The judge was put in a tight spot when the DA dropped the case.

      1. Howard P

        Hmmm… more “spin”?  You say “DA dropped the case”… article says Judge acquitted… dissonance…

        Perhaps some are ticked off (disappointed?) that the protesters lost their chance for a “bully pulpit”?

        although we are disappointed we were not able to present our extensive evidence as to why we were there – to expose Monsanto as a corporate criminal doing great harm to all of us, especially children and our planet,” said Robert Saunders, one of the defendants.

        Perhaps the protesters WANTED to be charged…

        Shirley Osgood echoed that, adding, “It’s good to be found not guilty…we plan to do more to educate the public on the evils of Monsanto.”
        Monsanto is a scientific bio tech laboratory of death. Everything Monsanto does has to do with death. The death of soil. The death of insects. The death of plants. The death of animals. The death of free enterprise. The death of family farms. The death of human beings. The death of democracy. Monsanto needs to reap what they have sown for over a century, the corporate death penalty!
        Ben Emery, a former Congressional candidate and permaculture specialist, was prepared to testify Thursday before the judge acquitted the defendants. He said afterwards: “Monsanto is a scientific bio tech laboratory of death. Everything Monsanto does has to do with death. The death of soil. The death of insects. The death of plants. The death of animals. The death of free enterprise. The death of family farms. The death of human beings. The death of democracy. Monsanto needs to reap what the have sown for over a century, the corporate death penalty.”

        Was that an inadvertent duplication of Emery’s quote, or two people using the identical script?  I’ll be charitable, and assume the former…

        1. David Greenwald

          “Hmmm… more “spin”? You say “DA dropped the case”… article says Judge acquitted… dissonance…”

          Seriously? Bottom line, why was the DA prosecuting this case? How much court time and money was wasted? Was there a better use of resources?

    2. Ben Emery

      John,
      Bingo!
      That is the problem, not accepting peer reviewed studies all over the world as evidence.  Monsanto “science” is done in a very unethical manner. A very specific agenda is attached to their studies and web of corruption has been cast over Ag programs, curriculum, and legislation all over the world for decades promoting this very dangerous and flawed science.

      Have you ever heard of the Precautionary Principal?
      How about Scientific Method?

      The US government regulatory agencies have been captured by industry. Not only in Agriculture but in virtually every industry there has been access to our legislators and leadership of the two major political parties that should not be. Privately funded campaigns for public office is a perfect recipe for corruption.

      Both of these, Precautionary Principal and Scientific Method, are secondary at best in Monsanto and other bio tech industries agenda. They should be front and center of all publicly distributed/ sold materials for public safety. Just look at what the bio tech industry did in CA to keep labelling from becoming law. Not allowing the people to know what they are eating, why? Just like the absentee DA and Monsanto (despite being subpoenaed facility director) did not show up to testify. Monsanto and other bio tech industries know they are promoting a lie and suppressing the truth about their industries myth of “feeding the world”.

      Agriculture giants and biotech companies spend big to defeat Prop. 37
      https://www.mercurynews.com/2012/08/16/agriculture-giants-and-biotech-companies-spend-big-to-defeat-prop-37/

      “So far, farming giants such as Monsanto, Dupont Pioneer and Cargill have contributed nearly $25 million to defeat the proposal, with much of that cash coming in the past few days. It’s nearly 10 times the amount raised by backers of the ballot measure who say California’s health-conscious shoppers want more information about the food they eat.”

      Lets look at what they do in other places.

      Monsanto’s global unethical and in many cases criminal actions to gain access to new markets is a perfect example of the companies policies and ethics.

      How Monsanto wrote and broke laws to enter India
      http://vandanashiva.com/?p=260
      There are three outright illegalities to Monsanto’s existence in India.
       
      First, Monsanto undemocratically imposed the false idea of “manufacturing” and “inventing” a seed, undermining robust Indian laws—that do not allow patents on life—and by taking patents on life through international trade law. Since 1999, Monsanto has had the US government do its dirty work, blocking the mandatory review of the Monsanto Law in TRIPS (the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights Agreement implemented through the WTO).
       
      Second, since they do not have a patent for Bt-Cotton, Monsanto’s collection of royalties as “trait value” or as a “fee for technology traits” (IPR category that does not exist in any legal framework and was concocted by Monsanto lawyers to work outside of the laws of the land) is illegal. These illegal royalty collections have been collected from the most marginal farmers, pushing them to take their own lives.
       
      Third, the smuggling of a controlled substance without approvals (and thus Monsanto’s very entry into India) is a violation and subversion of India’s Biosafety Regulations. This includes the illegal introduction of GMOs into the food system in India, which poses grave risks to the health of ordinary Indian citizens.”
       

       

  2. Tia Will

    “The burden is on the government (Reisig’s office filed charges after the arrest May 22, 2017), and the government has not sustained its burden”

    I feel that this is an all too common outcome of cases as charged by the current DA’s office. The tendency to first overcharge, not provide full disclosure, and not provide sufficient evidence to back up charges is a common series of events under DA Reisig. It is harmful not only to the individuals charged both in terms of their time and expenses, but poses unnecessary expense and waste of court and officer time for the county, time and funds which could be better spent on actual hazards to our community.

    I strongly urge everyone with an interest in local law enforcement, community safety and justice to check out the philosophies, positions, and policies of both candidates for DA, Jeff Reisig, the current DA and his challenger Dean Johansson.

  3. Ben Emery

    Howard,
    Not getting the Bully Pulpit is part of the cat and mouse game going on for sure. Unfortunately at the expense of tax payers. Typical industry tactic dumping expense onto the people out of fear of letting the public make their own decisions of what they want to eat and support. Not showing up to testify under oath and the DA jumping when Monsanto said jump with filing the charges is very apparent in this case. Look above with my response to John on this issue. If we were able to label foods we would see a the real support from either side of this issue. My guess the profits of companies who create and promote GMO “foods” would go down considerably and that is what the biggest incentive opposition to the Label Movement. Bio Tech Industry cares little about public safety or well being and everything about profits and bottom lines. Keeping people in the dark, not letting the actual science seeing the light of day, is their game plan while they continue to have policy of violence against innocent people all over the planet for profits.

    Have you seen the lawsuit before a court in San Francisco right now coming from farmers and their families? I believe the number of claims has reached 300.

    https://www.baumhedlundlaw.com/12-17-san-francisco-roundup-cancer-lawsuits/

    Accountability has been set by precedent in former Monsanto cases where they won by suing farmers who fields were accidentally contaminated by patented GMO seeds.

  4. Ben Emery

    Bio Tech cannot have it both ways where accountability/ responsibility and hardship is put onto the people for royalties while claiming no responsibility/ accountability when their products are found to be making people/ farmers sick.

    Eventually and it has already started to happen, bio tech will start being held accountable. When that happens the executives will cash out their shares and then file for bankruptcy.

    WR Grace Libby Montana case is where the bio tech industry will be.

    W.R. Grace
    https://mesothelioma.net/w-r-grace/
    “After facing over 250,000 claims and lawsuits over asbestos exposure, W.R. Grace filed for bankruptcy protection in 2001. Just before filing the company transferred a few billion dollars to subsidiaries in an attempt to protect the money from asbestos claims. The Department of Justice declared it fraudulent and ordered that $1 billion be returned to the company to be considered as assets in the bankruptcy process.”


    Excerpts that show how dishonest Monsanto will act and how they live in a world of deception.
    Organic growers lose decision in suit versus Monsanto over seeds

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-monsanto-organic-lawsuit/organic-growers-lose-decision-in-suit-versus-monsanto-over-seeds-idUSBRE9590ZD20130610

    “The assertion that Monsanto would pursue patent infringement against farmers that have no interest in using the company’s patented seed technology was hypothetical from the outset,” the company said in a statement issued Monday.

     

    Later in the article

    Monsanto filed 144 patent-infringement lawsuits against farmers between 1997 and April 2010, and won judgments against farmers it said made use of its seed without paying required royalties.

  5. Ron

    Don’t know a great deal about this, but I wonder why the Vanguard often focuses on the DA, rather than UCD’s apparent connections to Monsanto.  A quick Internet search turned this up:

    “As I recently explained, University of California at Davis agriculture researchers are heavily influenced by the funding they receive from Monsanto and other big biotech players.”

    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/michele-simon/did-monsanto-write-this-o_b_1936912.html

    1. Ben Emery

      Ron,
      I mentioned this very thing briefly in my 10:11am response to John.

      ” Monsanto “science” is done in a very unethical manner. A very specific agenda is attached to their studies and web of corruption has been cast over Ag programs, curriculum, and legislation all over the world for decades promoting this very dangerous and flawed science.”

      You’re right on target for bringing this issue up as a major concern.

    2. Tia Will

      Ron

      The following is my opinion and may not accurately reflect the motivations of the Vanguard. We, as taxpayers, have the ability to elect and ultimately pay for the actions of the DAs office and the court costs for whatever charges he chooses to pursue. This is certainly not an impact that we have on the interactions between the university and the companies with which they partner. It would seem much more timely to me at this point with an election in a couple of months to focus on that which we can have a strong impact if we, as a county desire change.

      I also believe that the Vanguard has covered issues related to toxic chemicals and seed patents which are both issues relevant to Monsanto.

  6. John Hobbs

    “Don’t know a great deal about this”
    Moderator: edited . The quote is from a lawyer and the author of the Huffington Post throwing shade on Monsanto and UCD for forming partnerships and cooperating to achieve better outcomes. Also a little Woodland hate thrown in. Moderator: edited

      1. Ron

        [Moderator: edited]
        And then there’s this, from you:

        ” . . . throwing shade on Monsanto and UCD for forming partnerships and cooperating to achieve better outcomes.”

        So, you’re a big fan of Monsanto and connections with UC Davis? Well, wouldn’t you then generally support prosecutions of protestors for infractions?

         

         

        1. Howard P

          So, you’re a big fan of Monsanto and connections with UC Davis? Well, wouldn’t you then support prosecutions of protestors?

          That’s an illogical leap of “something”… perhaps the moderator(s) should look at your comment as well…

          Not everything goes thru the moderators… my understanding it is “complaint driven”… hence the “report comment” ‘button’…

        2. Ron

          Howard: It’s a logical conclusion, regarding John’s belief that forming partnerships and cooperation between UC Davis and Monsanto achieves “better outcomes”.

          And, its of an entirely different nature than John’s initial, personal attack against me. Strange that you cannot see this. Personal bias?

        3. Don Shor

          Where UC Davis research money comes from: https://biobeef.faculty.ucdavis.edu/2017/01/08/who-does-fund-university-research/

          Now the question that perhaps has been asked most frequently is how much funding is coming from specific companies – specifically those associated with the so-called “Agrochemical academic complex”? That all depends upon how you define such industries, but let’s go with the so-called “Big 6”; that is Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, BASF, DuPont/DuPont pioneer, and Dow….
          So in summary, at what is arguably the number one ranked agricultural research university in the world, the proportion of funding coming from the “Big 6 Agrochemical academic complex” funders is approximately $2 million per year, well under one half of one percent of total research funding received by the campus.

        4. Howard P

          John Hobbs and I are probably both doubling up with laughter (know I am!) to read,

           Personal bias?

          John and I are often diametrically opposed in certain areas… but, here…

          I do not know the man, and pretty damn sure he doesn’t know me.

          Stupid question, again… and questioning me of personal bias? Weird…

        5. Ron

          Don:  From your article:

          “The approximate breakdown for the $786 million received in fiscal year 2014-15 was $427 million (54%) awards from the federal government, and likely a big chunk of research funding is also from the state government. $66.1 million (8.4%) was awards from foundations, and $59.4 million (6.7%) awards from industry sponsors.”

          In any case, do you think this has no influence at UC Davis?  Are you also a fan of Monsanto’s connections to UC Davis?

          1. Don Shor

            In any case, do you think this has no influence at UC Davis? Are you also a fan of Monsanto’s connections to UC Davis?

            I am not concerned about contributions by Monsanto and other ag industries to UCD plant breeding research.

      2. John Hobbs

        I like to roast links. What a fascinating magazine. well anyone can sue for anything, so we’ll see how this goes for the right to know about food folks. Personally, since nothing in our current diet is genetically unmodified, the designer GMOs don’t worry me nearly as much as childrens’ starvation and blindness in Africa, for instance. I see neither UCD or Monsanto as the great Satan.

  7. Ron

    Article from 2013.  Not to pick on one guy (and I’m not sure that he’s even there, now), but more apparent connections between UC Davis and agribusiness.

    “In choosing noted plant biologist Roger Beachy to head UC Davis’ new World Food Center, Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi picked a leader with close ties to agribusiness, science and Washington, D.C.”

    “He begins his tenure at UC Davis on Jan. 1 and will be paid $212,000 a year for an 80 percent work schedule, said UC Davis spokesman Keith Sterling.”

    “It was in the 1970s, as a scientist at Washington University, that Beachy made a first successful foray into genetic engineering. An effort with food giant Monsanto and other universities to protect the tomato plant from the tomato mosaic virus led to the creation of the world’s first genetically modified food crop.”

    http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/education/article2581430.html

    Again, seems strange to ignore these UC Davis connections, while focusing solely on the district attorney in regard to Monsanto.

    Now that we’ve (hopefully) moved beyond trolling, personal attacks, would you guys like some more links?

    1. Ron

      No response (so far), but I figured that you all (secretly) wanted to know more about UCD’s connections with Monsanto and other biotechnology companies:

      “You name it, and biotechnology companies help pay for it at UC Davis: laboratory studies, scholarships, post.doctoral students’ salaries, professors’ travel expenses, even the campus utility bill. Some professors earn extra money, up to $2,000 a month, consulting for such companies on the side.”

      https://www.organicconsumers.org/news/biotech-industry-funds-bumper-crop-uc-davis-research

      This type of information is not difficult to find. And yet, nary a peep on the Vanguard that I recall, at least.

  8. Ben Emery

    I am good friends with an Organic Farmer who went through the UC Davis Ag program. It is virtually all conventional chemical teaching. There are some good ideas and practices to be learned but like usual what is left out of lessons can be and many times is more important than what was emphasized.

  9. Ron

    Ben:  Excerpts that show how dishonest Monsanto will act and how they live in a world of deception.
    Organic growers lose decision in suit versus Monsanto over seeds

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-monsanto-organic-lawsuit/organic-growers-lose-decision-in-suit-versus-monsanto-over-seeds-idUSBRE9590ZD20130610

    Later in the article:

    Monsanto filed 144 patent-infringement lawsuits against farmers between 1997 and April 2010, and won judgments against farmers it said made use of its seed without paying required royalties.

    I seem to recall a program on PBS a few years ago, regarding inadvertent/possible contamination of non-GMO fields. Ironically, it seems to me that the farmers experiencing contamination would be the ones taking legal action – not the other way around.

  10. Tia Will

    Don

    Agrochemical academic complex” funders is approximately $2 million per year, well under one half of one percent of total research funding received by the campus.”

    Do you know what percentage this funding contributes to issues regarding chemicals used on crops/in soil and proprietary seed development ?

    I am not concerned about contributions by Monsanto and other ag industries to UCD plant breeding research.”

    I also am not concerned subject to verification of three factors: 1. Suppression of other research avenues is not directly or indirectly occurring. 2. Full information is being provided on the results of experiments. The prime example that this is not always the case is the notorious actions of the tobacco companies who years after having demonstrated the harmful effects of smoking, buried the evidence. 3. Just as I do not believe that costs of medication should be raised egregiously ( see the Skrelli sentencing), I also do not believe that the costs of seeds should be egregiously elevated in a world dependent upon seed/food production.

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