3/7/2018 11:04:00 AM Litigants gnaw at edges of Pederson cattle neglect case
Roger Pederson will have to wait a week to hear his lawyer make the case in Skagit County District Court for returning 135 Scottish Highland cattle to his farm. The cattle were seized from the Bay View farmer by county and state authorities based on complaints by neighbors in January. At Monday’s hearing Judge Dianne Goddard gave Pederson attorney Emily Beschen a week, scheduling a March 12 (11 a.m.) follow-up session. Spectator rows in the Mount Vernon courtroom were filled for the briskly-paced 35-minute hearing The one-week interim period will allow Pederson attorney Emily Beschen the opportunity to make contact with additional witnesses before testimony is heard March 21. Acting on complaints by neighbors, a search warrant was issued several weeks ago for Roger and Marsha Pederson’s 140-acre farm. Over 50 dead cows and dozens more in poor health were found. Ailing cattle were removed for care at various “foster home” sites. Pederson, previously a Skagit Port Commissioner and candidate for the state legislature, has petitioned for the return of his animals. “You must prove that if the cattle are returned to Mr. Pederson they wouldn’t suffer any more neglect or injury,” Goddard, a former La Conner Town Attorney, told Beschen on Monday. There remains the prospect that criminal animal cruelty charges might be brought as well. But since none have thus far been filed, Goddard denied a request by Beschen to move the case to Superior Court. Beschen also sought an alternative to convening again on March 12, due to schedule conflicts in her office. Goddard suggested this Friday, but that didn’t fit either. Starting 30 minutes later, at 11 a.m. rather than 10:30 next Monday, was agreed upon following much discussion. “It’s a pretty time-intense matter,” Goddard said.