Sometime later this year Loganville, Wisconsin dairy farmer Vernon Hershberger will be tried before a jury in Sauk County Circuit Court on four criminal misdemeanor counts accusing him of violating the state Food and Dairy Code. The case has drawn widespread attention in Wisconsin, with Hershberger’s supporters rallying to his cause.
A question that has been raised about the trial is: can the jury hearing the case legally engage in jury nullification and return a verdict of not guilty on the charges no matter what the facts and the law of the case are? The answer is yes.
Hershberger has been charged with operating a retail food establishment without a license, operating a dairy farm as a milk producer without a license, operating a dairy plant without a license and violating a holding order issued by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). The holding order prohibited anyone from removing food products from refrigerators and freezers that had been taped at Hershberger’s farm store. The farmer broke the tape and sold products in the refrigerator shortly after the order was issued. ………………….