Amos Miller has new high-profile counsel in his federal court case, and his scheduled courtroom appearance on Monday was moved to next month.
Robert Barnes, whose clients have included teen Kyle Rittenhouse, controversial radio host Alex Jones and actor Wesley Snipes, had his application granted Friday by Judge Edward G. Smith of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to practice in the court under “pro hac vice,” or a lawyer permitted to practice in a certain court jurisdiction even though they have not previously been admitted in the jurisdiction to practice law.
Barnes will represent the Upper Leacock-based Amish farmer in his years-long court battle with the federal government over food safety laws and inspections of his operations and threats of jail for nonpayment of $300,000 in fines.
“This case is bigger and beyond one farmer in the Amish community,” Barnes said by phone Friday afternoon. “It’s about what can you farm, and what do we eat. And do we control that, or is it the government?”
As of Friday morning, Miller was still scheduled to appear before Judge Smith on Monday in the U.S. Courthouse in Easton for a show cause hearing to consider adding Miller’s wife as a defendant in the case, to examine compliance of paying $305,065 in fines and the possible incarceration of Amos “for his continuing civil contempt, until defendants make such payments.”
But New Jersey-based lawyer Bradford Geyer, who has also been added to Miller’s defense team, filed a joint, unopposed motion to continue the show cause hearing on Thursday, requesting moving the hearing date to Oct. 31 or “at a time the Court determines appropriate.” Smith granted the motion on Friday to continue the show cause hearing.
“For much of the last year, Amos Miller has been without counsel acting pro se and nonparty, unrepresented Rebecca Miller has not been a party to the case,” Geyer said in his motion. “Defendants retained undersigned counsel recently for this matter, is filing a motion to appear pro hac vice in this matter and needs time to effectively represent the defendants. In addition, it is counsel’s understanding productive negotiations are underway that may fully resolve this matter.”
Smith also on Friday denied a motion for a stay of proceedings filed by Miller on Aug. 5 after one of two civil court cases opened by Miller and making their way through the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals was dismissed on Aug. 30 for a “lack of appellate jurisdiction.” Miller originally filed the “interlocutory appeal” case in April, challenging comments made by Smith in an April 22 phone conference in which the farmer said the “judge was acting irrationally and beyond the confines of public policy” when he commented during the phone conference “that the bonds in the affidavit of notice have no value.”
After the conference, Smith ordered Miller to make “good faith” payments of $50,000 to the court and $55,065 to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) for reimbursement of inspection costs of Miller’s Organic Farm.
Miller requested in the appeal for the court to release a recording of the April 22 conference to him. According to court rules, telephone conferences with all the parties involved are not released as public records.
Circuit Court judges Cheryl Ann Krause, Paul Matey and Peter Phipps, who were overseeing the case, ruled on Aug. 30 that the appellate court lacked jurisdiction over the appeal.
Barnes, the Las Vegas-based attorney now heading his own law firm, Barnes Law LLP, rose to prominence in legal circles in 2008 when he served as one of Snipes’s criminal defense lawyers in his federal tax evasion trial. A jury acquitted Snipes on the more serious conspiracy and felony tax evasion charges, but he was convicted on three of six counts of misdemeanor failure to file income tax returns.
Barnes was hired as part of Rittenhouse’s original defense team following the 2020 Kenosha, Wis. riot and shooting in which the Illinois teen was charged with two counts of homicide and was eventually found to be not guilty. Barnes was one of the most prominent legal commentators on the internet surrounding the Rittenhouse case, garnering millions of views on YouTube for his analysis.
He has also represented Alex Jones in a defamation lawsuit related to the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting. Barnes is a frequent guest an occasional host of The Alex Jones Show and is a contributor to Jones’s website, InfoWars.
Born and raised in Tennessee, Barnes eventually attended Yale University before transferring to the University of Tennessee, citing the “elitism” of the Ivy League school. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School.
Barnes said he was eager to take on Miller’s case because of the implications it has on individual freedoms and other issues currently happening in society.
“This is about power – who has the power to choose what I eat, what I put into my own body,” Barnes said. “And it’s an extension of the vaccine mandate dispute. It’s an extension of a range of controversies currently raging across the country about the Constitution and our laws and the role of the executive branch of the federal government in our lives.”
[Editor’s Note: An update on the case can be found here.]