Connecticut shows how it should be done.
Following on from yesterday’s post that highlighted how Switzerland is legally protecting the rights of animals.
Apologies for the brief introduction but our internet service was up and down yesterday and I didn’t know how long I had to get today’s post completed.
A republication of an item seen recently on the Care 2 site.
Connecticut Gives Abused Animals Their Own Lawyers
By: Susan Bird June 12, 2017
Abused animals in Connecticut now have a voice in court, thanks to a new law passed by the state in late 2016.
Connecticut lawmakers passed “Desmond’s Law” in response to the horrific death of a sweet shelter dog called Desmond in 2012. The man who adopted him, Alex Wullaert, reportedly rarely fed Desmond and often beat him.
Ultimately, Wullaert killed the dog by hanging him, after Desmond made the mistake of urinating on Wullaert’s leg. Then he dumped the body in a garbage bag and left it on the street.
When prosecuted for the crime, Wullaert admitted what he’d done. The prosecutor recommended that he spend time behind bars for this shocking offense. Despite this recommendation, the court gave him nothing more than Accelerated Rehabilitation. That meant upon successful completion of probation, Wullaert’s record would be wiped clean.
That result outraged the animal-loving citizens of Connecticut. And they enacted “Desmond’s Law” to ensure that court decisions offer a better measure of justice following animal-related crimes.
Seven attorneys, a law professor and her law students are part of the program statewide. The law authorizes qualified pro-bono lawyers and volunteer law students to:
[P]rovide investigative insight not readily available to the court, resulting in a more fair and efficient process and more meaningful outcomes in animal abuse cases. It is intended to shine a bright light on the full extent of crimes committed under the animal cruelty statute.
In a nutshell, these animal advocates help the prosecution or defense team with tasks it often has no time for, especially in animal cases. The volunteers investigate, research issues and conduct interviews with veterinarians and other witnesses. As official parties to the case, they also write briefs, make arguments in court and submit recommendations to the judge.
A judge has to approve the participation of the animal advocates, who must be requested by either the prosecution or defense.
“The hope [of the law] was that providing courts with an extra resource to help handle these cases, at no cost, [is] that the cases could be more thoroughly handled,” University of Connecticut law professor Jessica Rubin told the Hartford Courant.
Prosecutors in Connecticut already commend the animal advocates for helping them do a better job in these cases. Often, they barely have time to do much of this legwork for cases involving human victims. We all know that when time is precious, the human cases will take precedence over those involving animals. Now, with professionals in place solely for the animal cases, that won’t be a problem anymore.
“We hope with this law in place, we will start to see much better procedural outcomes [in animal abuse cases],” Annie Hornish, director for the Humane Society of the United States in Connecticut, told the AP. “We are very excited that judges seem to be taking advantage of it.”
This is an incredible step forward for animal victims. In particular, it helps overburdened courts provide the same level of investigation and consideration to animal victims that they give to human victims.
Connecticut has given animals a legitimate, recognized voice in the state court system. Why can’t every other state do the same thing? From Maine to California, every state has animal-loving lawyers and law students who would be grateful and eager to volunteer their time as animal advocates.
Lawmakers from other states are reaching out to Rubin to request information on how they might be able to pass a similar law. There’s interest out there, and animal activists can help fan this flame.
It’s time for every jurisdiction to pass its own version of Desmond’s Law.
Photo credit: Thinkstock
Once again everyone: It’s time for every jurisdiction to pass its own version of Desmond’s Law.