Judge Dismisses 5 of 6 Charges Trumped up by Minnesota Dept. of Agriculture (MDA) To Persecute Raw Milk Farmer Mike Hartmann
[Editor's Note: This outrage is a repeat of the California case of harassment and (eventually vindicated) legal prosecution of raw milk producers and sellers instigated by commercial Big Dairy interests working through their lackeys in state government. In this case, a raw milk farmer named Mike Hartmann was set up for arrest and seizure of his dairy products by the MDA having a state trooper lay in wait in 2009 for Hartmann along the side of the road so he could stop his truck under the false pretense of not seeing a rear license plate (the plate was on the truck). That led to an unconstitutional search and seizure of his milk, which in turn led to additional raids by the MDA in 2012 and 2013 against Hartmann's raw milk farming business. Raw milk, if properly produced, is much more nutritious and beneficial to human health than pasturized milk. Obviously, as more people become aware of the benefits of raw milk, they will patronize farmers like Mike Hartmann and this is what big commercial dairy interests want to prevent. The only people who need to be prosecuted for criminal abuse and malfeasance in office are the tax-payer supported public servants who forget who they are being paid to work for....Ken Adachi]
December 9, 2013
At a hearing for Gibbon dairy farmer Mike Hartmann, Sibley County District Court Judge Erica H. McDonald dismissed five of six criminal charges brought by the state against Hartmann for violations of the Minnesota food and dairy code. Two of the charges arose from evidence seized during a December 4, 2012 stop of Hartmann’s vehicle by a state trooper; the other three came from the execution of a search warrant by MinnesotaDepartment of Agriculture (MDA) officials on January 9, 2013 at Hartmann’s farm.
The key to the dismissal of the charges was Judge McDonald granting a motion to suppress any evidence obtained during the vehicle stop by state trooper Joseph Heyman who testified that he initially stopped Hartmann’s truck because he did not see a rear license plate on the truck and the truck appeared to the state trooper to be a commercial motor vehicle that did not have the required Department of Transportation markings or number. Heyman subsequently conducted three warrantless searches of the vehicle during the stop, seizing raw milk and raw cheese from Hartmann’s truckat the instruction of MDA; the discovery of the food led to the granting of the warrant for the January 9 search on the Hartmann farm.
In granting the suppression motion filed by Hartmann and his attorney Zenas Baar, Judge McDonald held that while the initial stop was legal, Heyman’s searches of the truck were not because there was no probable cause that Hartmann had committed any crime. The state trooper admitted that he quickly discovered after the stop that there was a rear license plate on the vehicle. The judge found that Hartmann’s truck was not a commercial vehicle under Minnesota law and therefore that any state statute allowing for spot checks of commercial vehicles was inapplicable. Judge McDonald ruled Heyman “impermissibly extended the scope and duration of the stop.”
Since it was the illegal search of the truck that led to the execution of the search warrant on the Hartmann’s farm, the judge also held that any evidence obtained from the January 9 search was inadmissible as evidence. With the state having no other evidence on which to rest any of the criminal charges against the farmer, MDA is still searching for a way to put Hartmann out of business–something the department has been unsuccessfully looking to do for many years.
The remaining charge against the farmer is for a probation violation in October 2012; Hartmann had received six months’ probation for pleading guilty to two misdemeanors for violations of the state food and dairy code. The problem for MDA is that the probation violation charge is also based on evidence illegally obtained by Heyman during the vehicle stop.
The Minnesota Constitutiongives the farmer the right to sell and peddle the products of the farm; MDA needs to respect this provision and stop going after farmers like Hartmann.
VIDEO – PRODUCT SEIZED DECEMBER 2010
Raw milk from the Hartmann Dairy was confiscated at a delivery site in Minnetonka by MDA agent Roettger on December 7, 2010. The truck driven by Mike’s brother Roger was eventually towed to downtown St. Paul. Another video of the incident is posted on YouTube. The Hartmanns were subjected to subsequent raids and product seizures.
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