Monsanto Protest Trial Finishes Day 1

(from left) Defendants preparing to represent themselves at trial Tuesday: Pam Osgood, Mauro DeOliveira, Susan Roberts-Emery, Shirley Osgood, Lena Romero, Steven Payan and Robert Saunders. Defense lawyer Rich Dudek, represented Elliot Adams, is seated directly in back and sandwiched between Payan and Saunders. Not pictured is defense attorney Richard Staff and client/defendant Kahla Mackey.

Deputies Can’t Provide Physical Evidence of Wrongdoing – Judge Weighs Motion to Dismiss

By Crescenzo Vellucci

A “simple” traffic court trial for an infraction is continuing to be anything but “simple” – the judge-only trial of nine people protesting Monsanto in Woodland for “poisoning the world” ran for nearly hours Tuesday in Yolo County Superior Court – and Part II is on tap for next week, March 8 at  1 p.m.

Judge Paul Richardson seemed to be enjoying himself Tuesday – quipping “Thanks for the vote of confidence” after Robert Saunders, one of seven self-representing defendants, said: “You’re intelligent judge, I’m sure you will figure it out.”

But other than that, the Dept. 13 courtroom – absent a jury after Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig’s office charged the protestors with an infraction after they were arrested on three misdemeanors (which would have guaranteed a jury trial) last May 22 – was deadly serious. Extra deputies were in the room along with nearly two dozen witnesses, spectators and news media.

Judge Richardson did not outright dismiss a motion submitted by the defense that charged the Yolo County Sheriff and District Attorney
refused to provide full, possibly exculpatory (evidence that benefits the defendants), discovery to the defendants, noting “We’ll see as court continues if there is some exculpatory evidence.”

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 referring discovery requests to the DA, and a DA’s letter stating it didn’t handle discovery for the case.

Judge Richardson, after hearing those arguments, said he would reserve his decision on a motion to dismiss “in the interest of justice” made by all defendants.

Attorney Rich Dudek is representing defendant Elliot Adams, who resides in New York, and attorney Richard Staff is representing defendant Kahla Mackey – both lawyers are working for free and were recruited by the National Lawyers Guild in Sacramento.

Defendants representing themselves include Saunders, Pam Osgood, Shirley Osgood, Susan Roberts-Emery, Lena Romero, Steven Payan and Mauro DeOliveira. Another defendant, Andy Conn, a longtime Northern California activist and West Sacramento resident, passed away unexpectedly Feb. 2.

When Richardson adjourned Tuesday, it appeared he was looking at the evidence related to whether or not the area in which protestors were occupying was “public.” Defendants claim that is key to the case because they are being charged with “loitering” in a “public” driveway, highway or alleyway.

Sheriff Deputy Sgt. Sam Machado and Lt. Lance Faille, under cross examination, could not say for sure if those arrested were on public property. From a diagram sketched by Machado it appeared that the defendants were 15 to 20 feet from the roadway, and on Monsanto property in a Monsanto driveway.

A lawyer from Monsanto also said he didn’t know if there was a public rightaway when queried by the judge, who admitted “I don’t know the answer, not now,” and adjourned for the day.

“Even if the area they were in was an easement for the public, it still doesn’t make it a public driveway,” said Dudek, who made an impassioned plea to the court for a dismissal.

“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.

The defendants representing themselves peppered Faille and Machado with questions for hours, and were able to get both officers to admit no cars actually turned around in the driveway because of the protest.

“No evidence of any kind  has been presented showing loitering,” said Saunders to the court. Faille, in fact, admitted under questioning that he didn’t see any cars prevented from entering Monsanto, even though he gave the order to have protestors arrested.

Interestingly, Machado could only identify three of the defendants, and couldn’t remember who arrested them, even though he was the supervisor at the protest from the beginning and called in deputies to make arrests. Faille couldn’t identify any defendant without looking at booking photos.

Romero, a college student, repeatedly noted that there is “no evidence to prove we’re guilty. They have no photographs, no body cams, no video taken by deputies.” Both Sheriff witnesses admitted there was no evidence other than their “recollections.”

There was a dispute about the original reasons for the arrest. Although defendants are now being charged with loitering, they were arrested for violating a vehicle code section requiring pedestrians to not “cause an immediate hazard” by running in front of vehicles. Government witnesses did not testify defendants did that, but they did arrest protestors for refusing to disperse and resisting arrest.

Dudek and Staff strongly suggested that if defendants were not violating the vehicle code, the underlying charge, then the other two charges were no lawful, and the defendants should not have been arrested in the first place.

“Did you see vehicles in the driveway, did you see any take evasive action and did you see anyone run in front of a vehicle,” Staff asked the officers. Both just said they may not have, but felt the law was being broken, even though – after being repeatedly asked – they said they did not have any physical evidence to prove it.

The defense presents its case when the trial resumes next Thursday, Marc 8, at 1 p.m. in Dept. 13, and they have several environmental experts ready to testify as to the danger of Monsanto’s work,

Previously, Saunders filed a brief, joined by the other defendants, arguing that the ordinance charging the protestors with “loitering” is unconstitutional and an attempt to “chill” free speech.

“(T)his matter was a peaceful protest where protestors were exercising their First Amendment rights to gather and be heard as to a meaningful interest…(the action) presents no harm to anyone and the court should dismiss in the interest of justice,” the brief said.

Dudek earlier filed a court brief claiming the loitering charge was unconstitutional as applied to free speech activities and should be immediately dismissed.

“Defendant Adams..objects to enforcement of the ordinance as a violation of the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution (and )unduly restricting his First Amendment rights,” according to the trial brief. Recent U.S. Supreme Court cases have tossed out similar ordinances, opining that “freedom to loiter” is protected, Dudek said.

Demonstrators maintain that studies that 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 that 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.

“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 be presented at the defendants’ trial in January.

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        1. Howard P

          Any atty “licensed” (actually ‘admitted to the CA bar’) in CA can practice in any county… you are correct. John… as I understand it… an all or nothing thing… just like engineers, surveyors, cosmetologists, etc.

          Except perhaps, for business licenses, if you are “good” anywhere in CA, you are good in all counties…

  1. Howard P

    If I recall correctly, from a previous article, the “accused” wanted the charges and a public trial, to give them their “bully pulpit” re:  Monsanto…

    Agree that the “just thing” is to dismiss charges, and deny the accused their “pulpit”… also, cheaper…

  2. Ben Emery

    As usual the commenters on this article are focused on the wrong subject. I don’t blame you since the real subject was only mentioned once but it still remains the #1 issue.


    Monsanto/ Bayer is a company that has created a scientific 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 free enterprise. The death of family farms. The death of human beings. The death of animals. The death of democracy.
    Monsanto/ Bayer needs to reap what the have sown for over a century, the corporate death penalty!

    1. John Hobbs

      What a hyperbolic pile of bovine excrement, Ben. I actually try to avoid comment on the assault by under-tasked, over-educated misguided eco-terroists on the efforts of real scientists to feed a starving world. Whatever validity there is to the contention that glyphosate is poisoning the world is buried under the hyperbolic claims and ridiculous actions of such as you.

      1. Ben Emery

        John Hobbs,

        “the efforts of real scientists to feed a starving world.”
        What an ignorant statement. One by the way that industry uses to justify their science of death.

        There is plenty of food produced to feed the world already. What we have is a distribution and speculation issue. 

        Then the bigger issue of loss of top soil due to the science of death industry. Herbicides are also pesticides meaning they are killing off the living organisms in our soil. Without life in the soil it is dead dirt. Can you recognize the difference.

        Here is an excerpt and link from a 2014 article.

        Only 60 years of farming left if soil degradation continues
        …..all of the world’s top soil could be gone within 60 years, a senior UN official said on Friday.
        About a third of the world’s soil has already been degraded, Maria-Helena Semedo of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) told a forum marking World Soil Day.
        The causes of soil destruction include chemical-heavy farming techniques, deforestation which increases erosion, and global warming. The earth under our feet is too often ignored by policymakers, experts said.
        “Soils are the basis of life,” said Semedo, FAO’s deputy director general of natural resources.“Ninety five percent of our food comes from the soil.”

        1. Ben Emery

          That’s right Howard. So many untruths… so little time….

          Let me ask you this, since conventional agriculture (post WWII) and then agribusiness/ biotech became mainstream (1990’s) has the environment we need to live ( soil, water, air, ect…) gotten better or worse?
          The pseudo science here is that of the biotech industries who only focus on micro or specific modifications instead of looking at the whole picture.  Their propaganda runs deep and wide as you have proven to be true.

        2. John Hobbs

          “science of death.”

          I can tell you are a catch phrase guy, so I suggest that you take your campaign against Monsanto to twitter. It may help you to disguise those cute labels you like as cogent thought.

          You are part of the growing “us versus them” mentality. Feeding the world, particularly the developing third world requires that we utilize the best practices of conventional commercial and “organic” farming.

        3. Howard P

          Biggest loss of useful topsoil in the US occurred long before WWII… caused, in large part, by ag  practices that are now known to have been stupid… (ever heard of the “dust bowl”?).

          Most herbicides (like Roundup, made by Monsanto) break down relatively quickly in sunlight… they are not soil sterilants…

          Bromomethane, a true soil sterilant, occurs naturally, exuded by some plants in the mustard family, and is banned for use in the US.  Monsanto neither invented it, nor marketed it.

          Do you have any academic training in chemistry, soil science, or history, Ben?


  3. Ben Emery

    How long was the longest study?

    from Michael Koch, PhD, DABT, New Technologies in Toxicology Lead, Monsanto, Company · Wednesday, 5/28/2014 6:49 pm

    To address the second question, the longest safety studies are the feeding studies, in particular 90-day toxicology study with the whole food (i.e., grain from corn or meal from soybean) is typically the longest feeding study conducted….”

    90 days my friend is not only irresponsible but dangerous.

    Let me ask you this, do you believe in evolution? If yes, do you understand how adapting is the way to survival? If yes, will you concede pests, weeds, living organisms will become resistant and more herbicides and pesticides will be needed?

    I come from a family of ranchers and farmers. Looking at their log books from 1980’s to 2010 the volume of more potent herbicides, pesticides, and synthetic fertilizers increased by nearly 10 times for the same 100 acres of fruit tree orchard. That was just one of the orchards they farm. So the off farm inputs have dramatically increased while the size of the orchards have remained the same producing the same pattern of yields. Some years heavy some years light. If it weren’t for the corruption of big agribusiness and their subsides those orchards would not be profitable. So in fact my relatives who have been farming that land since 1960 are trapped in the grips of the biotech industry.

    That is the death of the family farm and the death of free enterprise for those who want to start family farms since they do not have the capital or the ability to start due to the Cochrane Tech Treadmill.

      1. John Hobbs

        ” other “issues” that have little or nothing to do with the topic…”

        Makes one long for “…follow the money…”

        I suspect that you and I are cursed with having done real jobs that required learning and practice spanning our careers.

        1. Howard P

          Likely… both in the public works sector at some points, as I recall you disclosing, actually serving the needs of the public…

          My education and “career”/hobbies have spanned: music, woodworking, history, the various forms of chemistry (organic, inorganic, bio, and love), physics, air and water chemistry/quality, physics, mechanics (theory, and car maintenance [before 1990]), development and general law, religion/philosophy, transportation, electrical/plumbing repairs (including how to sweat out copper pipes to do a good soldering job), etc.

          So, I’m a ‘one trick pony’ who doesn’t know nothing… so, no one should take anything I post seriously, on any subject… truly…

          Seems like someone else knows “everything”… who are we to judge?  Perhaps we are just “tools”/fools of the corporate oligarchy?

  4. John Hobbs

    Sounds like ag science (or science in general) ain’t for you Ben. Maybe crisis drama.

    “the corruption of big agribusiness ”

    ” trapped in the grips of the biotech industry.”

    “death of the family farm and the death of free enterprise”

    ” the Cochrane Tech Treadmill. ”

    The treadmill started running when Og(not her real name) domesticated a buffalo and and after getting kicked when milking realized the power potential and told her husband to start using it to pull the plow for him. Soon he was growing more wheat than the neighbor, who immediately went out to find a simpatico buffalo. In any industry, one strives to be more efficient by observing what works and adopting that which one may.

  5. Ben Emery

    Howard,Funny that you mention taking it to the third world or developing world. My brother is doing just that and have had amazing results. I’m supplying articles, quotes, studies, ect… but you’re the one claiming I should stick to texting because their is no content. That is funny.

    To ignore all the issues connected with our food supply is to be looking through a tunnel at a much bigger picture.

    You in fact are losing sight of the forest for the trees.

    Earth is a complex ecosystem by itself and unless we work within those natural systems we are working against our own best interests. Control and dominance is the name of the game in our current economic system, which our agribusiness model being a product of.

    So the big question here becomes, do we want to continue down the status quo road that has obviously and tremendously failed or do we want to move in a very different direction?

    You are the former and I am the latter.

    There is no denying the 6th mass extinction is upon us and humans are the main driver of it. Agribusiness, CAFOs, Bio Tech, Financial Speculation, Corruption, ect… are a gigantic pieces of the puzzle that need to rectified.


    1. Howard P

      Howard,Funny that you mention taking it to the third world or developing world. My brother is doing just that and have had amazing results. I’m supplying articles, quotes, studies, ect… but you’re the one claiming I should stick to texting because their is no content. That is funny.

      I posted no such things… another untruth by you… a serious untruth…

      Am thinking apology and/or retraction would be appropriate…

      And I’m politely ignoring your spelling/grammar errors, as that is part of the VG guidelines…


      1. John Hobbs

        “Am thinking apology and/or retraction is owed…”

        If I learned anything from the Slavic soothsayer it’s that you cannot derive satisfaction from unsatisfactory people.

        1. Howard P

          Je comprends, mais, “buttons were pushed”, and was not feeling particularly adult… but you are correct, I should have ‘sucked it up’, ignored it, and endeavored to be the adult… mea culpa…

  6. John Hobbs

    “has obviously and tremendously failed”

    Funny, the historical record shows vastly improved production over the last 60 years. Corn production, for example, is up by more than four times per acre since 1955. The farmer that fed 26 people back in 1960 feeds 160 today. You can check the USDA crop reports and records to confirm.

    That’s not failure, by any sane metric.

  7. Howard P

    I still assert that the charges should be dropped, with no prejudice either way, and the protesters denied their “bully pulpit” (trying real hard to focus on the topic)… charges dropped, no lawsuits, no bully pulpit… move on… this whole procedure borders on, or has passed the ludicrous… too much “drama”… by the protesters, and by ‘the people’…

  8. Ben Emery

    Yes I have heard of the dust bowl.

    Yes, I do have scientific training.  Also have Permaculture certification.  Have taken numerous courses on the science of soil and composting.

    Yes, I am a manager (1 of 3) for more than a decade  of a ranch that has three properties that are roughly 1,000 acres.

    Right now, we have about 300 sheep and goats grazing. We are following behind them seeding for this season. Cycle of cattle, goats/ sheep, and spreading seed. Practicing “mob grazing” to restore pasture land to maximum water capture/ storage.

    Turning the soil both in conventional and organic farming practices is a huge contributors to the loss of top soil. The relentless spraying of herbicides on already damaged soil is killing off the ability to regenerate new topsoil on an already bad practice of turning/ plowing. We are not talking about profit margins, we are talking soil health. There is a big difference. If we as food producers could pull our heads out of our rear ends long enough we would see that healthier soil means better profit margins with less work.

    We also switched to a no till with our row crops and in just a few years have seen a reduction in water/ irrigation and pests while seeing higher yields.

  9. Ben Emery

    John Hobbs,
    Actually a study from the USDA shows that farms on average are 3x larger and revenue are down over the last 60 years. Mono crop agribusiness is killing the soil and is poisoning our livestock in our CAFO style feed lots.

  10. Jerry Waszczuk

    Monsanto Roundup Lawsuit

    Monsanto Roundup [glyphosate] weed killer has been designated as a probable human carcinogen by the World Health Organization (WHO). Farmers, farm workers, landscapers and gardeners who use Roundup or other glyphosate products are at risk for developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma and other forms of cancer. Consumers across the United States who have been diagnosed with cancer due to Roundup or glyphosate herbicide exposure are making the decision to file a Roundup lawsuit.
    If you have been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma after being exposed to Roundup weed killer and would like more information about whether you might have a potential Roundup lawsuit, please contact a personal injury attorney at Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman by filling out the contact form below.

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