Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Purloined Pickles

From my old haunts in Iowa City, and the Press-Citizen:

Hearing in Pickles case delayed

By DAVID PITT Associated Press Writer

DES MOINES — A Polk County judge on Wednesday delayed a hearing in the case of Pickles, the disqualified 2002 Iowa State Fair 4-H grand champion steer.

The hearing, which has been delayed several times to fit the schedules of attorneys and Judge Arthur Gamble, has been moved to Friday, a court clerk said. It had been scheduled for Wednesday.

Pickles' owner, Jenna Sievers, who was 16 at the time when she showed the animal at the farm competition, was accused of switching animals between the December 2001 weigh-in and the August 2002 state fair competition.

Sievers and her father, former state Sen. Bryan Sievers and her mother, Lisa Sievers, publisher of the Muscatine Journal, have insisted they did not cheat and have aggressively defended themselves through a two-year legal process.

The state fair board disqualified Pickles claiming nose prints taken of a calf did not match nose prints of Pickles. The board also did not believe Sievers' claim that the calf gained an average of 9 pounds a day over a 30-day period.

After the board disqualified Pickles, the Sievers' appealed to an administrative law judge, presenting testimony from fingerprint experts that nose prints were unreliable.

That judge concluded last November that Pickles should keep the title.

The State Fair Board overturned the judge's decision in February, upholding Pickles' original disqualification. The Sievers appealed to district court.

The ruling could be appealed to the Iowa Supreme Court.

Winning the case also means Jenna Sievers could collect a portion of the $16,000 paid for Pickles at the 2002 state fair's livestock auction. The money remains in escrow until the case is resolved.

Pickles' carcass was placed in a freezer at Iowa State University.

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