Yesterday's Hearing was just the latest move (or non-move) in a
complicated "chess game" that will determine a lot about our rights as
Americans. Any one attending might start flinching a little bit while
singing the national anthem when we say "and the land of the free".
At least we saw that we are still living in the "home of the brave",
I'm talking about those of us in the gallery looking at the silhouette
of the lone farmer MIKE HARTMANN going up against the establishment ALL
BY HIMSELF. It was a sight to bring tears to anyone who has tried to
raise or produce healthy food for a too-oft ignorant public.
We saw the taunt-lipped and buttoned-down prosecuting attorney doing her
job of rattling off a machine-gun list of charges, allegations, and
"overwhelming evidence" that the child of the family she represents was
"definitely" sickened by RAW MILK that had come from the Hartmann farm,
that the specific serotype of the pathogenic E. coli was
"identically-matched" in all 8 people made sick with samples from the
Hartmann farm. Anyone listening to her extremely long oral deposition
would have thought "well, Case Closed!". She concluded her testimony by
making an attempt at what appeared to be a character assignation of the
defendant, questioning Mikes integrity in saying he told us all that
he "could not afford legal representation" and yet "he was able to
spend $9000 recently to acquire a typed and written court record for the
previous trial". ***How she acquired this non-public knowledge brings
up many other questions in our minds.....***
Then it was Rocky
Balboa, I mean Mike Hartmann's turn to speak. Mike was standing in as
his own attorney as he is unable to afford representation in such a
long, drawn-out, years-long case. In each and every segment of the
allegations, Mike explained his position, primarily stating the
following PROBLEMS with the allegations:
1) No scientific doctor has submitted a document stating that the E. coli samples matched.
The test results are murky and basically missing. He has never gotten
written proof of this allegation of matching serotypes. MIKE WANTS TO
SEE THE DOCUMENTS FROM A QUALIFIED SCIENTIST. He asks again and again
"WHERE ARE THE TEST REPORTS?"
2) The history of what the
sickened child had eaten prior to getting sick has varied. The parents
at first told Mike directly that he had NOT drunk any of the milk, the
original question was whether or not he could have gotten sick from the
chicken, beef, eggs or cheese from the Hartmann farm, all of which he
was said to have eaten. Perhaps no one will ever know what the child ate
and what he did not eat.
3) Later the testimony of the parents
changed and now they say he DID consume Hartmann raw milk. Oddly, as
Mike pointed out, the parents who are both health professionals, he a
chiropractor and she a "holistic nutritionist" tolerated bloody diarrhea
and other symptoms in the child for THREE DAYS before seeking hospital
care. This was never explained but stands out. The family has also moved
to Seattle where they currently reside. They have not been present at
any of the previous hearings nor were they present yesterday.
4) So, Mike wonders that since NO milk samples tested anywhere tested
positive for pathogenic E. coli, why is it that the prosecutors are sure
that it was the raw milk that caused the illness? Why not the chicken?
The eggs? The beef? No answers.
5) The allegations claim
that all 8 sick people showed fecal evidence of DNA that matched the DNA
taken from the Hartmann farm. Since no "control samples" were taken
from those that didn't get sick, this doesn't mean much. You will have
DNA from the farm from which you will eat. (this was never brought up
with regard to whether or not the sampling protocol was truly worthy of
being called "Scientific".
6) Soon after the sicknesses were
reported, the Hartmann farm was served with a search warrant and many
samples were taken as well as all farm product which was seized and
embargoed. Tests were conducted but no E. coli was found in any milk
product. A month later another search warrant was served and the milk
was tested BUT never for pathogens of any kind, merely tested to check
for general cleanliness (total bacterial count and routine coliform
count). The milk tested actually "better than Grade A" with only 13,000
bacteria (the cutoff is 20,000 and no coliforms, and the milk was tested
for raw or pasteurized. Nothing else. A few months later another search
warrant was served and the farm was evaluated and products seized but
again NO testing for pathogens of any form.
7) The Hartmann
farm has been deemed "unsanitary" in courtroom testimony but yet the
Hartmanns have never been served with any form of legal order, fine,
penalty or warrant that would define exactly what "unsanitary" really
means. Mike says these terms are arbitrary and vague and no one can tell
him exactly what needs to change. Again, he is producing CLEAN MILK.
Mention was made of "there was manure on the gates" to which Mike
pointed out to the lawyers that "this IS a barn".
pointed out that every drop of milk passes directly from a washed udder,
into a milker, then into a sanitary pipe directly into a glass
collector, a filter and then into the bulk tank. In other words no open
buckets, no air or barn contamination is possible.
exotic and never-before-seen strain of E. Coli 0157 H7 that was
collected from all 8 sick people as well as from some fecal samples from
the farm has, to Mike's knowledge never been named, identified or
explained. Where did it come from? Why did it show up here and
absolutely no where else on earth?
10) And finally, why didn't
anyone else get sick? There are 500 or more customers drinking milk and
consuming other farm products from the Hartmann farm who did not get
sick, nor have they gotten sick before in over a decade of
milk-drinking. At the same time of the alleged illnesses, the Hartmanns
served several hundred school children of the local school district and
not a single person got sick. An urgent request was even made by the
Hartmanns, given the coincidental sickenings, that anyone and everyone
with a symptom should report it immediately. No one had a problem.
WHERE THIS IS HEADED- First of all, no one knows. The judge in this
case had previously recommended that the two sides head for MEDIATION. A
court-appointed mediator was selected, a person who will have total and
final say of what action would be taken. It is assumed that the family
of the previously sick but recovered child are seeking a financial
settlement. Mediation is notorious (especially in difficult and
unresolved cases) to suggest, "well, you are asking $100K, why don't
you, the alleged guilty party, give them a partial payment and we'll
call it even?" Efficient perhaps, but these common plea bargains carry
the weight forever of "implied guilt" when money is given.
There have been two dates over the past few months when the two parties
were supposed to meet with the mediator for mediation BUT, due to
inadequate communication, neither event brought the two parties together
(that caused this hearing to be necessary).
AT THE END, the
judge, having heard the oral summaries from both sides, merely restated
her position (Pontius Pilot washing his hands?) that "you guys need to
get together for mediation and you need to do it soon.....ADJOURNED".
AND THAT WAS IT. You tell me what happened.....
Here is a message from Linda Schultz, who is Michael Hartmann's coordinator. This is regarding a hearing in court on Friday, July 22, 2011.
Hello out there farm family members.....
and Wednesday, and still this morning, Mike and Diane reported that
Mike is due in court again. It was hoped that mediation meetings might
make this unnecessary. Consequently, the continued conversation with me
and now a final determination that he will be in court tomorrow.
This case is being brought forward by the Caldwell family who had a son who was hospitalized in May 2010. This hearing is in Hennepin
County Court, the opposition's goal of which is to achieve a "Summary
Judgment." This would mean that a decision would be made by the court
based on information already presented and would prevent a "trial by
jury." A "trial by jury" would give our farmers the opportunity to
present their side of the case more completely in the alleged illness of
a child last year, theoretically, as a result of consuming raw dairy
foods from our farmers. However, a Summary Judgment would have the end
result that the court would simply determine how much money our farmers
would have to pay.
are encouraged, and yes, even urged, to support our farmers by
attending this hearing. Even though we would be a silent group of
supporters, the impact made on the court by sheer numbers present can be
the pivotal point. I won't "preach a sermon" to our family. You each
know how critical this is and have experienced enough things over this
past year to know how much our wonderful farm family needs us.
though this is very short notice, if you possibly can do so, would you
take a little time on Friday to participate in this showing of support
for our farmers. This would show that we are a big "family" who
enthusiastically consume and healthfully benefit from all these
wonderful farm foods, specifically the raw dairy.
Hennepin County Government Center
300 South 6th Street
1:30 p.m. ~ Friday July 22
available in the immediate area, including the ramp at the Government
Center. Detailed information and directions are at the end of this
Please let me know if you have any questions or comments. It would be great to know who and how many of you plan to go.
With gratitude for each of you and your families....
Hennepin County Government Center 300 South Sixth Street Minneapolis, MN 55487
A-Level (downstairs) Auditorium, no security clearance required
County Government Center is located in downtown Minneapolis and is the
central location for county offices and services. The Government Center
is a 24 story granite building that spans over 6th Street South and
covers the two blocks between 5th and 7th Streets and 3rd and 4th
Avenues. The two towers (Administration and Courts) house many different
departments. Directions from the West (via I-394):
Take interstate highway 394 east to the downtown 6th Street exit, and
follow 6th Street to 3rd Avenue South. The Government Center is built
over 6th Street ahead of you.
Directions from the East (via I-94):
Take interstate highway 94 west to the 5th Street South exit and follow
5th Street toward downtown keeping to the left and proceeding around
the Metrodome Stadium. When you
are just about past the stadium at the intersection of 5th Street and
Chicago Avenue/Kirby Puckett Drive, keep to the lane on the LEFT side of
the median which will allow you to follow 5th Street on the LEFT side
of the Light Rail tracks. Proceed in this lane to 4th Avenue South. Turn
left on 4th Avenue South and you will see the Government Center on your
right built over 6th Street.
Directions from the north (via alternate I-35W):
take interstate highway 35W south, merge onto MN-280 via exit 23A
heading south to Interstate I-94 west. Take the Interstate highway 94
west to the 5th Street exit, and follow 5th Street to 4th Avenue South.
Turn left on 4th Avenue and go one block to 6th Street South. The
Government Center is built over 6th Street on your right.
Directions from the South (via I-35W):
Take interstate highway 35W north to the 5th Avenue South exit. Follow
5th Avenue to 7th Street South, turn left on 7th Street and go two
blocks to 3rd Avenue South. Turn right on 3rd Avenue and go one block to
6th Street South. The Government Center is built over 6th Street on
Parking is available in ramps, lots and meters near
the Government Center. Maps and parking information can be found on the
web site of the Greater Minneapolis Convention and Visitors Association.
There is a parking garage underneath the Government Center and the
entrance is on 3rd Avenue. There are two parking ramps on the block next
to the Government Center with entrances on 6th Street and on 5th
Avenue. These ramps have skyway access to the Government Center.