The U.S. Justice Department has withdrawn its subpoena of Indiana raw dairy farmer David Hochstetler to appear before a federal grand jury.
He was scheduled to testify tomorrow in Detroit, in connection with an outbreak of illnesses linked by public health officials, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, to the milk of his Forest Grove Dairy. But yesterday he received a certified letter saying that his subpoena was being withdrawn.
Ross Goldstein, a U.S. Justice Department trial attorney, noted in the letter that Hochstetler had previously stated to him that Hochstetler wouldn't answer questions or produce documents based on his Fifth Amendment constitutional rights. "Based on your representation that Forest Grove Dairy is a sole proprietorship and that you refuse to produce any responsive documents based on the assertion of rights guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution against self incrimination, I write to advise you that you are released from the subpoena until further notice." He was advised to retain all documents in the case.
While it's not clear exactly what kind of maneuvering led to the federal pullback, one factor working for Hochstetler may have been the efforts of his county Sheriff, Brad Rogers of Elkhart County.
Sheriff Rogers wrote a letter to the Justice Department warning it not to conduct inspections of Hochstetler's farm without a warrant from a local judge. In the process, he got into a debate over the limits of federal power and the U.S. Constitution with the Justice Department's Goldstein.
Earlier this month, Rogers emailed Goldstein that there had been "a number of inspections and attempted inspections on (Hochstetler's) farm..." He warned that "any further attempts to inspect this farm without a warrant signed by a local judge, based on probable cause, will result in Federal inspectors' removal or arrest for trespassing by my officers or I."
That prompted Goldstein to cite the U.S. Constitution's "Supremacy Clause," which he said "has been interpreted since the earliest days of this nation to mean that federal law trumps state law whenever the two conflict."
Goldstein argued further that the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act allowed federal agents "to enter Mr. Hochstetler's property...without a warrant at all--pursuant to a long line of federal cases..." Moreover, he warned the sheriff that federal agents could arrest him-- "that the 'refusal to permit entry or inspection as authorized by section 374' is in itself a federal criminal offense, which under certain circumstances is a felony punishable by imprisonment for up to three years..."
During an interview, Rogers responded to Goldstein's argument, "When you assert that federal law trumps state law, it is a distortion of the intent, content and extent of the supreme law of the land--the U.S. Constitution-seen through a myopic and misunderstood view of Article VI, section 2 (The Supremacy Clause)."
He also asserted that "the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act could be deemed unconstitutional if and when challenged vis-a-vis the Tenth Amendment juxtaposed with The Commerce Clause."
He added that "our form of government was based on the principle that all officials exist to secure 'Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.'...Such 'cosmetic' regulations will never 'trump' those principles. The citizen in question is a good man and has committed no crime. He is an upstanding member of this community. He does not have to allow access to his property for the FDA to conduct random inspections."
Aside from the sheriff-prosecutor debate, the affair had received publicity via this blog and an article I wrote for Food Safety News, detailing how extensive testing of Hochstetler's milk in 2010 had shown no signs of campylobacter, and how FDA officials had targeted Hochstetler and another farmer, Richard Hebron, of Family Farms Co-op, in meetings in 2009.
When I asked Hochstetler, who is Amish, whether he was relieved about the turn of events, he said, "I never got too excited about it. It is spiritual warfare between good and evil and if we have God on our side, we will win."
Call or e-mail Sheriff Brad Rogers and encourage him. Good men like this need your support:
Sheriff Brad Rogers Addresses "Constitutional
Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association"
(CSPOA) .... Founded By Sheriff Richard Mack
One of the best ways to get elected county sheriff these days is to campaign against the encroachments by the federal government on basic rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. And then, to act on your campaign agenda…well, that could win you an award.
A good number of the 125 or so sheriffs attending the first convention of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA) in Las Vegas over the last couple of days (together with another approximately 100 other enforcement personnel), appear to have been elected in just the last year or two. One of the most heartwarming stories by a recently elected official came from Sheriff Brad Rogers of Elkhart County in Indiana. If you’ll recall, he was featured on this blog in December standing up for one of his farmer constituents, raw dairy farmer David Hochstetler, who was being subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury exploring felony charges in connection with his distribution of raw milk.
Rogers was one of about a dozen speakers at the Sheriffs Convention, and he was interrupted several times by enthusiastic applause from the approximately 225 law enforcement personnel as he recounted the story of how he stood up against the feds on behalf of Hochstetler. He explained that he was elected sheriff of Elkhart County in 2010 “by a wide margin…I ran on the basis of protecting the Constitution.”
He recalled, “On December 1, I received a call from an Amish farmer in my county. He said, ‘I’m having a problem with the federal government.’ He told me how the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) had been to his farm several times in 2011 alone. I went to see him. I could see it was a clean operation. The problem for the federal government was that he was selling raw milk to cooperatives in Illinois and Michigan. After the third or fourth time the FDA was there, he was subpoenaed before a federal grand jury in Detroit.”
As Rogers recalled it, “I told Mr. Hochstetler, ‘I will protect you in Elkhart County. I can’t protect you in Detroit.’ I asked him, ‘Are you ready for some sparks to fly?’ He said he was.”
Next, said Rogers, “I sent an email to the Justice Department trial attorney…I said, ‘If you come back to this farm without a search warrant signed by a trial judge, I will have you removed for trespassing.’”
The audience interrupted Rogers with wild applause. “Well, he didn’t take to that too well. He said the federal government has precedence based on the Supremacy Clause. I told him the federal government is supreme if it has to do with the Constitution.”
All that happened on a Friday, Rogers told his audience. “On Tuesday, Mr. Hochstetler received a certified letter that the Department of Justice had withdrawn the subpoena.”
The crowd interrupted Rogers again, with even louder applause. “I want to protect citizens like Hochstetler,” said Rogers. “That stuff is not going to happen in my county.”
According to Richard Mack, the former Arizona sheriff who organized the event, “This is about America. It is about whether we are going to preserve our Constitution.” In describing the inaugural sheriffs convention, he added, “It is not a call to arms, or violence, or insurrection. There is nothing subversive here. Quite the opposite.”
Mack noted that the sheriffs in attendance “swore an oath to uphold the Constitution, specifically the Bill of Rights…They are untouchables. You cannot violate the Bill of Rights.” Sheriffs, he said, “are sworn Constitutional guards. We are the executors of the law. The supreme law is the Constitution. We interpose on behalf of people.”
The subject of raw milk came up a number of times. Michael Badnarik, the 2004 Libertarian candidate for president, gave an hour-long overview of the Bill of Rights. In describing the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, which provide latitude in reserving powers to states over the federal government, he noted, “The government is trying to put Amish farmers out of business for producing raw milk…I own my body” and decide what to feed it.
See full story: http://healthimpactnews.com/2012/sheriff-who-challenged-feds-for-amish-raw-dairy-farmer-receives-award-for-meritorious-valor/