On the second week of January 2024, the animal rights activist and lawyer Wayne Hsiung, the co-founder of Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), who was jailed last year for his involvement in the rescue of animals at two Sonoma County factory farms, appealed his conviction. Lawyers from the Animal Activist Legal Defense Project filed a notice of appeal on behalf of Hsiung. 

Chris Carraway, Animal Activist Legal Defense Project Staff Attorney representing Hsiung on appeal, said, “Substantial prejudicial and reversible error occurred in Hsiung’s trial. Stunningly, Judge Passaglia prohibited the jury from knowing the full scope of animal cruelty at these companies, as well as the activists’ extensive efforts to obtain law enforcement of animal cruelty laws. Thus, Hsiung was unable to explain the intent behind his actions–a crucial element of the alleged crimes. Likewise, Judge Passaglia improperly prohibited Hsiung from mounting a necessity defense, though nothing in California law prohibits the applicability of necessity to animal rescue. We are optimistic about reversal on appeal.”

Hsiung was sentenced to 90 days in jail and 24 months of probation (during which he is not allowed any contact with the other named “co-conspirators” in this case) after being convicted of felony conspiracy and misdemeanour trespassing charges in November 2023. On 9th December 2023, he was released from the Sonoma County jail in California after serving 38 days in custody. With time served since his conviction and California’s half-time credits, Hsiung walked out of jail much sooner than his supporters anticipated.

The Sonoma County Open Rescue case was based on two open rescues at Sonoma County factory farms–major egg producer Sunrise Farms and Reichardt Duck Farm, California’s largest duck farm. After having investigated the farms which raised animal welfare concerns, activists rescued 37 chickens and 32 ducks and provided them with veterinary care. 

Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.