Amos Miller, along with his wife Rebecca, is scheduled to be back in federal court in two weeks with new lawyers, and maybe a new strategy to avoid imprisonment as a party in a civil case and monetary judgment of more than $300,000.
His next court date is 2 pm, Friday, Dec.16, 2022, in the U.S. District Court for Eastern Pennsylvania at Easton with federal Judge Edward G. Smith presiding.
Miller, often depicted as a small Amish farmer, has been the target of USDA enforcement actions for several years. His farming operations span state borders and his sales club has distributed meat to multiple states.
In late 2019, the same court permanently enjoined defendants Amos Miller and Miller’s Organic Farm from further violating the Federal Meat Inspection and Poultry Products Inspection Acts. Since then, Judge Smith has twice held Miller in civil contempt for failures to comply with the Acts and the court’s enforcement orders.
On the second of those occasions, Feb. 7, 2022, the Judge ordered Miller to pay as civil contempt sanctions, by March 7, 2022: (1) $55,065.72 to reimburse certain of the Food Safety and Inspection Service’s enforcement costs; and (2) into the court’s registry, a purgeable $250,000 fine, initially imposed on July 22, 2021, to be used to pay for (a) the court-appointed expert’s costs and fees, (b) approved compliance and enforcement costs, and (c) possibly even any unpaid attorneys fees .
MILLER’S NEW ATTORNEY IS Robert E. Barnes, Esq. of Los Angeles. He replaces Steven Lafuente, the Dallas attorney Miller tried to fire months ago, but Smith would not release from the case until he was replaced with a real attorney. Miller wanted to be represented by a so-called “sovereign citizens” organization, but Smith would not allow it. Ironically, Lafuente was close to bringing Miller into compliance with USDA’s regulatory authority shortly before the lawyer and his client had their disagreement.
Now facing those hefty fines and possible jail time, Miller has turned to Barnes who is known for such high-profile clients as Wesley Snipes, Ralph Nader, Covington Catholic High School students, Alex Jones, and Kyle Rittenhouse. Out of the courtroom, Barnes won $100,000 in Europe by betting on Donald Trump to win the Presidency in 2016.
As the joint owner of Miller’s agricultural assets, Rebecca R. Miller is ordered to appear at the Dec. 16 hearing as a “non-party.” Miller and Miller’s Organic Farm are the named defendants.
It was left to Bradford L. Geyer, a local counsel for the defendants, to argue for a time-out in the proceedings. “For much of the last year, Amos Miller has been without counsel acting pro se and Rebecca Miller has not been a party to the case,” Geyer wrote. He also said that he understood that “productive negotiations are underway that may fully resolve this matter.”
On Dec. 16, Miller’s new attorney will be asked to show cause “so that the Court can consider entering a more-complete judgment order to ensure compliance with previously ordered — but still unpaid — civil contempt sanctions amounts totaling $305,065.72; and (b) incarcerating defendant Amos Miller, for his continuing civil contempt, until defendants make such payments.
Three weeks ahead of the show cause hearing, defendants Amos Miller and Miller’s Organic Farm must file with the Clerk of this Court and thereby give appropriate notice to the court and to the United States, a detailed summary of (a) the arguments that they intend to make at the show cause hearing; and (b) the supporting evidence and witnesses upon which they intend to rely.
For example, if one or both defendants intend to argue that they do not have the financial ability to pay the sanctions amounts in full or in part as ordered, their filing with the Clerk shall include: (a) written notice of the defendant’s intention to raise that claim; (b) a statement of the specific grounds on which defendants allege financial inability to pay; (c) copies of all documents upon which defendants will rely in support of that claim; (d) the names and positions of witnesses whom defendants intend to call at the hearing; and (e) a summary of each witnesses’ anticipated testimony.
The government shall then have the opportunity to conduct any related discovery that it deems necessary, and to subpoena appropriate rebuttal witnesses for the hearing. By way of further example, if the defendants intend to argue that Rebecca R. Miller is no longer an owner of the Miller’s Organic Farm business or of Miller’s assets and accounts, the defendants shall so state in their submission. They shall detail the supporting evidence on which they will be relying.
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