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PRESS RELEASE: Appellate Court Ends Nearly 3-Year Miscarriage of Justice for Two Illinois Citizens

SPRINGFIELD,  IL December 8, 2016 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

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Media Contact: Danielle Diamond, SRAP | ICCAW 815-403-0278 | danielled@sraproject.org