Wegmans Cruelty: An Unofficial Blog

This is an unofficial blog and informational archive related to the WEGMANSCRUELTY film and resulting campaign.

Please see that page for more information.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

May 20, 2006

The Honorable Dennis M. Kehoe

Wayne County Court

Wayne County Hall of Justice, Rm. 106

54 Broad St.

Lyons, NY 14489

Re: Sentencing of Adam Durand

Dear Judge Kehoe:

In passing sentence on Adam Durand of Compassionate Consumers, you stated that Mr. Durand, convicted for trespassing on Wegmans' Wolcott, New York egg farm in order to film conditions there, behaved in a manner that indicated he felt he was "above the law." It is difficult not to take this statement ironically: What else, one feels compelled to ask, could Mr. Durand have done in order to expose the truth? He requested to be given a tour of Wegmans' egg-laying facility; that request was denied. And while it's true that officials involved in this case (State Police Investigator Frank D'Aurizio and District Attorney Rick Healy, both of whom were instrumental in bringing charges against Mr. Durand) found no proof of animal cruelty, it is also true that chickens confined on egg-laying farms are excluded from protections offered by the Animal Welfare Act, and that the Animal Care Certified (ACC) program, whose seal Wegmans proudly displayed on its egg cartons, placed no prohibitions on the cruelest of standard industry practices. In fact, there is little to no protection afforded to battery-farmed hens, either under the law or by the egg industry itself; whatever is found to be "standard practice" is considered acceptable. The Better Business Bureau, on the other hand, ruled that the ACC certification program was deceptive to consumers. That a deception was being foisted upon the public by Wegmans, and by other owners of battery farms, is what Adam Durand set out to prove.

The film Mr. Durand made at Wegmans' egg farm offers ample evidence as to the allegation of neglect; indeed, the evidence was so convincing that Investigator D'Aurizio himself was unable to deny it. It validated as well the charge that the "Animal Care Certified" seal used by Wegmans misled the public into believing that hens confined to egg-laying facilities are not subject to what would, were these not farmed animals, be considered abusive treatment. As to the fact that Wegmans has expressed doubt as to whether or not the entirety of Mr. Durand's video footage was taken at their property, charging him with trespassing based on that same footage hardly lends credence to their claim.

Since Mr. Durand was found guilty of trespassing, you had no recourse but to levy punishment. However, the fact that you chose to make that punishment as severe as possible – six months in jail to be followed by a years probation, a $1,500 fine, and 100 hours of community service – indicates a clear moral choice to place property rights above the suffering of living, sentient beings. Indeed, you have done more even than that: for you have given Mr. Durand a more severe punishment than that normally meted out to those convicted of animal cruelty.

I am writing you to protest this decision, and to ask that you consider reducing or commuting Mr. Durand's sentence. He has never before been convicted of a crime, and behaved as he did not because he believes himself to be "above the law," but because the law, in this case, not only condones but actively supports the inhumane treatment of nonhuman animals. Mr. Durand, in my opinion, is to be applauded for his actions, not condemned.

Yours sincerely & etc. . . .

Photo courtesy Wegmans Cruelty website.

Statement Made by Judge Kehoe Upon Sentencing Adam Durand

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Statement Made by Judge Kehoe Upon Sentencing Adam Durand

(May 16, 2006)

Mr. Durand, we live in a society where the rule of law means something. There are appropriate and inappropriate ways of making one's voice heard on issues that concern them. While the law allows you to picket a store on public sidewalks, it does not allow you to break into a company's hen house.

Breaking into someone else's property - whether it is to further one's own political agenda or not - is not just wrong, it is a crime. If we wish to continue to live in society that values the rule of law, and I do, as opposed to one where people pick and choose which laws they want to follow, there must be consequences from criminal acts.

I have always believed that criminal consequences should be more severe for those who refuse to take responsibility for their actions, and who continue to benefit from their criminal behavior.

In your case, you entered into your victim's hen house without permission or other lawful authority. You did this because you believed you were "above the law". You did not do this once, or even twice. You did this on three separate occasions. You did not make any of these unlawful intrusions on the spur of the moment, nor on a passing whim. You planned your criminal activity well in advance, and carried out a carefully orchestrated scheme.

Although the jury found that you were not proven guilty of the crimes of burglary in the third degree and petit larceny on any of those three occasions, the undisputed proof at trial is that you did knowingly trespass on Wegmans' property and take "personal property" on each of those occasions that did not belong to you, as evidenced by the fact that the first time two hens were removed in pillow cases, the second time two hens were removed in a card board box, and the third time seven hens were removed in a cage.

Your criminal acts were all thought out in advance. That is called, in legal parlance, "premeditation." I believe, from all that I have seen and heard in this case, that you are the "mastermind" behind the criminal activity involved here, and I believe you have a political agenda that results in your suffering from the erroneous delusion that your conviction is a "Red Badge of Courage", instead of "the Scarlet Letter" that it actually is. You now have on your criminal record, three separate criminal convictions. It is your co-defendants, however, who stepped forward and took responsibility for their actions, and as a result, they now have higher level criminal convictions than you.

During the trial, I noted that you testified that after entering the hen house illegally each time, you subsequently failed to contact any appropriate lawful authority about your concerns for the welfare of the hens at the Wegmans farm. Nor did you contact any lawful authority when your movie was produced or shown, or at any other time. Had you truly cared about the hens at the Wegmans' farm, you would have complained to local law enforcement, the District Attorney's Office, or the local affiliations for SPCA. You would have written to your Assemblymen, your State Senators, your U.S. Congressmen and your Federal Senators.

You chose not to do that. Rather, you chose to attack Wegmans by your video, your website, and verbal attacks in the press. Our society values the rule of law and we are a nation of laws. The legitimacy of the video, which you claim was completely filmed at the Wegmans facility, has never been substantiated. Nor has Wegmans had an opportunity to challenge the veracity of the film, because Wegmans was not on trial.

Society rejected vigilantism many years ago, and I believe we should not return there any time soon.

I believe you have a political agenda that clouds your thought process to such an extent that you believe you can violate the law with impunity and that you are justified in doing so. Not only did you violate the law, your conduct and that of your co-defendants demonstrated a total ignorance on your part and theirs of bio-security measures recommended by such government agencies at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, and as implemented by Wegmans at their egg facility. I believe your inexcusable conduct placed the very birds you claim to be working to protect at risk for various diseases and death on a mammoth scale. Not only did you place the hens at great risk on three separate occasions, the economic loss to your victim, as well as the surrounding community could have been enormous as a result of bold, blatant, and careless premeditated illegal conduct.

You should not assume that the jury's not guilty verdicts as to the Burglary and Petit Larceny charges were an indication that they condoned illegal conduct. The jury, like I, took a solemn oath to follow the law and render a verdict based on the law and the proof at trial. They did not have the luxury of disregarding the law any more than you or I do, Mr. Durand. There should be no mistake here, in your mind or anybody else's mind.

The victim in this matter is Wegmans, whose reputation you sought to damage, both with the consumers and in the business world.

You have made arrogant and self-righteous statements of justification. You have demonstrated by word and action your obvious disdain for your victim and the laws of the State of New York.

I do have several regrets. I believe you are in possession of, and have disseminated to your followers, what I would best describe as contraband. I would like to be able to order you to recover and destroy all of your illegally obtained and perhaps inaccurate videos, but unlike you, I will follow the law. The Son of Sam law does not appear to apply to this case, and I could find no other authority for such an order. It is my hope that your state legislature will someday pass the necessary legislation to further deter criminal conduct such as yours. My other regret is that I cannot hold you and your companions financially responsible for the massive costs already incurred by Wegmans, and to be incurred by other industries as well, in order to protect themselves and society from your unlawful conduct.

I am concerned that any sentence imposed by me which does not include jail time, might be perceived by you as tacit approval by this Court of your clearly illegal conduct, now and in the future, as long as such conduct can be tied to some value that you, the law breaker, perceives as a higher law. If you believe that to be the case here sir, you are mistaken.


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