TORONTO: Dairy farmer Michael Schmidt will return to court on Thursday, July 26, 2012 seeking leave from the Ontario Court of Appeal to appeal his convictions on 13 counts relating to the sale and distribution of raw (unpasteurized) milk.
The motion will take place in Courtroom 1, in Osgoode Hall, 130 Queen Street West, Toronto (NE corner of Queen St. and University Ave.) commencing at 9:30 a.m. and is expected to take approximately 3 hours.
Spectators and media representatives are welcome to attend.
Schmidt’s lawyer Karen Selick will also be asking the court for permission to re-open the cross-examination of the Crown’s expert witnesses. A study published several months after Schmidt’s trial found that although pasteurization kills the pathogenic bacteria E.coli O157:H7, it does not inactivate the related Shiga toxin. Selick says the expert testimony at trial may have led the court to believe that pasteurization renders milk safe from pathogenic E.coli when in fact it may not.
Michael Schmidt obtained his master’s degree in agriculture in his native Germany, where raw milk sales are legal. Upon moving to Ontario, he found that many consumers were interested in obtaining raw milk; however, Ontario law forbids its sale or distribution.
Ontario nevertheless permits the consumption of raw milk by the owner of the cow. Approximately 89 percent of Canadian farm families drink unpasteurized milk from their own farms.
To make raw milk available to consumers while still complying with the law, Schmidt developed “cow-sharing” on his farm. Interested individuals purchase a share of the dairy herd. As owners of the cows, they also own the milk and should therefore be legally entitled to consume it.
In 2006, government agents raided the farm and charged Schmidt with 19 offences. Schmidt defended himself at his 2009 trial and was acquitted of all charges by Justice of the Peace Paul Kowarsky in January, 2010.
The Ontario government appealed, and Schmidt was convicted of 13 offences by Justice Peter Tetley in September, 2011. Although potentially liable for a fine of almost a million dollars, he was ordered to pay $9,150. Schmidt says he will not pay the fine since he has done nothing wrong.
There is no automatic right of appeal from the convictions or sentence. Schmidt and Selick will attempt to persuade the Ontario Court of Appeal that leave should be granted in the public interest.
Court documents pertaining to this week’s proceedings are posted here: