by BETTER FARMING STAFF
A justice of the peace “erred in law” when he acquitted Michael Schmidt on charges of selling raw milk, says a notice of appeal filed by the Crown in the Ontario Court of Justice in Newmarket Thursday.
The Crown wants the Ontario Court of Justice to overturn the Jan. 21 acquittal of Michael Schmidt by justice of the peace Paul Kowarsky and convict the Grey County farmer of violating sections the Milk Act and The Health Protection and Promotion Act between Aug. 17 and Nov 22, 2006.
The Crown is also seeking an unspecified penalty against Schmidt. As an alternative, the Crown wants an order for a new trial.
Kowarsky ruled that Schmidt didn’t sell raw milk or distribute it to the public. He decided Schmidt actually provided milk to members of a co-op that bought shares in cows that Schmidt managed on his farm near the town of Durham.
Brent Ross, spokesman for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, confirmed that an appeal had been filed on Feb. 11.
"Given that it is before the courts, I can't comment further at this time," he says. The Crown’s five page notice of appeal says the justice of the peace: “misapprehended and misapplied evidence;” “erred in law with respect to legal burdens,” and “committed errors of statutory interpretation.”
The notice of appeal says Kowarsky “erred in law in his interpretation and application of the definition of marketing.” Schmidt hired a public relations firm and acted as his own lawyer, but got advice from Karen Selick, litigation director with the Canadian Constitution Foundation.
Selick, based in Belleville, said she and Schmidt would not comment on the province’s appeal today. “Michael and I have decided not to discuss this with anyone until after the press conference on Tuesday,” Selick says. “There’s no point in having a press conference if we are going to talk to everybody in advance.” BF