Let the Record Reflect...Yuk

July 12, 2022

When does a description of plant contamination become prejudicial?

Criminal defense attorneys often spar with prosecutors over whether the jury gets to see gory crime scene photos. Now we’re seeing a variation of that in the trial of Paul Kruse, erstwhile CEO of Blue Bell Creameries.

Kruse is being tried on criminal charges of fraud in connection with a 2015 listeria outbreak in Blue Bell ice cream that killed three people. He’s being charged with suppressing reports of contaminated product and allowing it to be shipped.

Kruse is arguing, through his lawyers, that prosecutors should not be allowed to present evidence of contamination inside the plant during his trial because it would be “prejudicial” and “surplusage.”

I’m not a lawyer; I didn’t even know that “surplusage” was a word. But I have a hard time understanding how evidence of contamination would not be considered relevant in a trial about the damage caused by contaminated product.

The judge is scheduled to rule on the defense motion on July 22. I don’t know if, in contemplating his career, His Honor ever thought that he would have to make rulings on things like coliform counts, but I guess sometimes the law is literally a dirty business.

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