Feeding Our Future trial is underway

The first trial involving seven (7) defendants (out of the 70 charged, so far) in the free-food scandal began Monday morning at the Federal courthouse in Minneapolis. All seven were affiliated with a now-closed Shakopee restaurant, Empire Cuisine and Market.

According to the official trial statistics posted for Day 1, proceedings began 10 minutes early and ran for nearly 7 hours of elapsed time.

A total of 12 lawyers filed appearances on behalf of the seven defendants. According to court records, three defendants appear to be represented by court-appointed public defenders. Five attorneys appeared for the prosecution.

A few motions were made and jury selection got underway. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported on the jury selection process, which involved some 1,000 potential jurors.

The Day 2 report indicates that court again went for nearly seven hours, taken up with jury selection. Opening statements could come as early as Wednesday.

To preview the case, John Hinderaker and I did a one-hour webinar preview. It can be watched here.

Several media outlets published previews of the trail in recent days, including Sahan Journal, Star Tribune, and KARE-11.

Other local media outlets ran stories on the trial’s first day: Fox 9. KSTP, and WCCO.

Notably, MPR News ran photographs taken from outside the courtroom and a sketch from inside.

The Star Tribune‘s preview piece included this nugget:

Defense attorneys have said in court documents that the defendants didn’t knowingly or intentionally commit any crime or defraud anyone, arguing that they believed they were providing “real meals, to real people.” 

With this trial expected to last up to two months, deadlines in other proceedings in the larger case have been pushed back, with the next trial not expected to begin before autumn.