By Crescenzo Vellucci
The Yolo County Sheriff and District Attorney continue to refuse to provide complete, possibly exculpatory, discovery to the defendants in the Monsanto protest case, a full nine months after they were arrested and less than a week before they are set for trial in Yolo Superior Court, according to court documents filed here this week.
The trial of 10 anti-Monsanto protestors was delayed for a third time last month until Feb. 27, although Judge Paul Richardson is treating the simple infraction case as a more serious matter. He’s reserved at least a half day and then another half day if necessary to hear the case.
Despite what defendants claim was a premeditated plan to rob them of their right to a jury trial and lawyers, the “Monsanto 10” – arrested last May 22 while demonstrating in front of the world’s largest seed facility in Woodland –still pledge to “put Monsanto on trial for poisoning the world.”
In a series of legal maneuvers, pro per defendant Robert Saunders of Sacramento has successfully convinced Richardson to call more than one arresting officer to trial, and Richardson said Saunders could subpoena Monsanto executives to trial as well. Which he has done, he claims.
Now Saunders has filed a motion demanding “complete” discovery and asking the court to “compel” the DA ad Sheriff to provide the discovery and monetary sanctions for not doing so earlier. Saunders said he requested discovery last September and November and was not provided with anything other than a police report – which is not evidence until testified to in court – and one very short video taken in near darkness.
“I believe that the Yolo County Sheriff’s Office has or did have in (its) possession at minimum, the following items: audio recordings, photographs, emails with Monsanto, a log of phone calls with
Monsanto, radio communications recordings,” said Saunders in his motion to compel.
Key to Saunders’ belief more discovery exists is the comment made by the Sheriff’s department in November, in response to his second request for fully discovery: “Your discovery request is ready for pick up. It has all the information we can give you.”
“I am convinced there is more discovery, including exculpatory evidence that would absolutely show that I and my fellow defendants were simply exercising our free speech rights that day last May at Monsanto. Such evidence, if it were provided, would no doubt result in a verdict of not guilty. However, the DA and Sheriff are denying us that evidence in a purposeful manner to deny us our rights again – in court, and originally, when we peacefully demonstrated last year,” said Saunders.
The defendants 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.
Richard Dudek, the only attorney representing defendant Elliott Adams, 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.
Dudek also noted that police reports repeatedly state those arrested were in the middle of the “driveway,” when the county loitering law expressly states those violating it must be in a public area, like a sidewalk, road or alley. Other parts of the ordinance also don’t apply to the facts, he said.
The defendants, who are from Northern California including Sacramento, Grass Valley, Nevada City, West Sacramento and Woodland, are convinced that Monsanto is doing great harm to the planet and people.
One defendant, Susan Roberts Emery of Nevada City, had a prepared statement for the trial court the last two times. Part of it read:
“I am here to represent myself, but I am also here to represent all of the creatures, all of the animals, all of the plants and all of the human beings on God’s green earth. I am here to be the voice of the voiceless. On May 22, 2017 I found myself at the gates of Monsanto’s Woodland facility to speak truth to the dangers of ‘Round Up.’ I definitely was not loitering. I was there with a definite intent and purpose.
“I have friends who have autistic children, and grandchildren. I was at the Monsanto for those children…(and) for my great niece Rayna, who was born with her intestines outside her body…(and)for my husband Ben, who suffered colorectal cancer, my mother-in-law Barbara with breast cancer and my father-in-law Bob with Lewy Bodies Parkinson’s and my own father, Lt Col George Roberts, who died of dementia. I was there for the farmers who do not even know they are spray a carcinogen.”
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.