PEORIA, IL -- From a news release:
The Fourth District Appellate Court did in minutes what could not be undone in more than two and a half years of legal wrangling over a criminal contempt charge leveled against Illinois citizens Karen Hudson and Susan Turner.
Hudson and Turner are widely recognized as longstanding public educators on the issues and impacts associated with concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). After a brief oral argument by their attorney Kevin Sullivan of Peoria, the three-judge panel summarily reversed the contempt finding issued in 2014 by the 7th Circuit Court.
It was swift justice at the end of a process that was never swift or just. Kevin Sullivan was surprised by the rare speed of the decision.
“At the conclusion of argument, the court, in a rather unusual fashion, announced that it was outright reversing the contempt findings,” said Sullivan in a statement. “In most appellate court cases, the three-judge panel typically takes the case under advisement and ultimately issues a written decision. This case was summarily resolved at the conclusion of oral argument.”
Hudson, a farmer and founding member of Illinois Citizens for Clean Air and Water (ICCAW) and regional representative for the national nonprofit Socially Responsible Agricultural Project (SRAP), and Turner, also a member of ICCAW, were at the courthouse in Winchester, Illinois on April 1, 2014 to observe a trial initiated by a nuisance suit brought by neighbors of a CAFO. After the morning recess, Hudson and Turner were improperly detained, denied due process, and charged by the court with direct criminal contempt based on groundless accusations by representatives of the CAFO. The incident was then used as justification to declare a mistrial in the CAFO nuisance case.
“We are pleased with today’s Appellate Court ruling and hope it will set an example for others to advocate for the rights set forth by our Constitution,” said Karen Hudson. “It has been a lengthy, but empowering experience for us to persevere and eventually prevail in this gross miscarriage of justice.”
To listen to the oral arguments at the Fourth District Appellate Court, please click here.