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Smithfield Trial Juror Interviews

In September of 2022, Wayne Hsiung and Paul Darwin Picklesimer were put on trial for removing two pigs from a Smithfield production facility. The pigs were removed, given veterinary care, and are now living out their lives in a sanctuary. Despite the fact that there is video footage showing the pigs being removed from the facility, a Utah jury unanimously acquitted both Paul and Wayne of all charges, which included burglary and theft.

The verdict has been celebrated by activists as recognizing a “right to rescue,” and the case has been decried by factory farms as justifying, even encouraging, more efforts to rescue animals. The case has also been covered repeatedly by the New York Times, and it has spurred legislation in Utah attempting to prevent acquittals in similar circumstances in the future. This trial and the resulting acquittal are landmark moments for the field of animal law. Indeed, the very definition of animal law, or what it means to use the law to protect animals and improve their social standing, could be shaped by this case, or the backlash to the case, or the response by activists to the backlash from the case. The acquittal marks a rare win in a high stakes case for those who seek to shine a light on industrial animal slaughter.

As part of an effort to memorialize the case and preserve the insights that can be gleamed from the process, the University of Denver’s Animal Law Program took up the project of formally interviewing the jurors from the Smithfield trial. Professor Justin Marceau formally interviewed every juror who volunteered to participate in an interview within two months of the trial. Five jurors agreed to be interviewed. What follows are transcripts of the interviews. The IRB process at the University of Denver was fully complied with. The interviews are anonymized and have been modified slightly to remove any identifying information and to improve readability, but otherwise reflect a verbatim transcription.

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