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Stewart Parnell gets new appellate attorney; seeks more time

foodsafetynews.com by Dan Flynn, March 27, 2018

Ringer ó A person who is highly proficient at a skill or a venue brought in to supplement the team.

There is no doubt Atlanta attorney Amy Weil is highly proficient in the very exclusive venue of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. Both as chief of the Appeals Division for the U.S. attorney in Atlanta and as a private appellate attorney for the past decade, she has argued and often won hundreds of civil and criminal cases before the judges on the appellate bench.

Amy Weil is now the attorney handling the Peanut Corporation of Americaís former chief executive Stewart Parnellís appeal of his criminal conviction and his sentence of 28 years in federal prison.

Justin M. Lugar, with Roanoke-based Gentry Locke, Monday petitioned the 11th Circuit for more time to prepare a petition for rehearing and/or a rehearing En Banc to give Weil adequate time to review the issues and record.

If accepted by the court, the new deadline would be April 10. Lugarís motion says he has not had a chance to contact U.S. attorneys about the request, but he did not think the government would be prejudiced in any way by the extension.

Defense attorney Joseph R. Pope, with William Mullen in Richmond, filed in support of the delay on behalf of his client, Michael Parnell. He is Stewart Parnellís brother and a peanut broker. He was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for his role in a deadly Salmonella outbreak traced to the PCA peanut butter plant in Blakely, GA.

Opening briefs in the PCA criminal case appeals were filed in November 2016. A three-judge panel heard oral arguments on Nov. 7, 2017. Although the issues are numerous and sophisticated, the trial court judgeís decision was upheld by the appeals panel on Jan. 23 this year

Typically, the 11th Circuit requires the filing of requests for rehearing within 21 days, but it has already granted the Parnells two extensions, one to March 13 and another to March 27. Lugar said Stewart Parnellís additional counsel needs the extra time because of the size of the record.

Weil left the U.S. Department of Justice in 2008 after 25 years there. At DOJ, she was an assistant U.S. Attorney, senior general counsel and chief of the Appellate Division. She then became a partner in The Weil Firm LLC in Atlanta, specializing in appellate cases. Among her many recognitions, she was named a Fellow of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers in 2016.

The PCA criminal convictions stemmed from the 2008-09 nationwide Salmonella outbreak that was caused by peanut paste and peanut butter produced by the company at its Blakely, GA plant. The outbreak involved thousands of illnesses and at least nine deaths.

Federal indictments named the Parnell brothers and three former PCA managers in 2013 for criminal activity that brought on the outbreak. Following a two-month jury trial in 2014, the Parnells were convicted on multiple felony counts and sentenced to the lengthy prison terms. The company went bankrupt and no longer exists.