Court Calendar

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2000:

A Florida jury on August 18
found that WTVT Fox 13 in Tampa illegally
fired reporter Jane Akre i n
November 1997, after nine months of
forcing rewrites of an expose of human
health issues raised by the use of bovine
growth hormone to stimulate greater milk
production by dairy cows. The jury
agreed that Fox 13 had other reasons to
fire Akre’s husband, Steve Wilson, who
worked with her, and acted as his own
attorney to save money. At that, the couple
sold their home to pay the costs of
fighting Fox––after declining “a six-figure
cash offer from the station manager,” said
Wilson, to drop their objections to reporting
the story as BGH maker M o n s a n t o
I n c . wanted it to be reported.

had warned Fox in February 1997, three
days before the Akre/Wilson expose was
originally to air, that “There is a lot at
stake in what is going on in Florida, not
only for Monsanto but also for Fox News
and its owner,” tabloid press baron
Rupert Murdoch. The jury found that
Akre was fired for refusing to “broadcast
false, distorted, or slanted news,” and
awarded her $425,000 in total damages.
Community Services Associates,
owner of the roads and open spaces
in the Sea Pines condominium development
near Beaufort, South Carolina, on
August 18 won a 10-day restraining order
to prevent the Sea Pines Association for
the Protection of Wildlife from counting
the Sea Pines deer herd, arguing that the
count would constitute “illegal hunting.”
Ironically, the purpose of the proposed
count was to save deer from either hunters
or sharpshooters. Estimating that up to
926 deer live in Sea Pines, CSA is seeking
state permission to have about 200
deer killed; SPAPW contends that the
herd numbers somewhere between 288
and 502, and is not a serious problem.
The Canadian Federal Court
of Appeal ruled 3-2 on August 3 on
behalf of Harvard University that the
Canadian Patent Law allows any life
form to be patented except humans. The
case began when in 1985 Harvard applied
to patent a mouse strain modified to be
extra-susceptible to cancer. The U.S.
allowed the patent in 1988, and the
European Union allowed it in 1992.
“There may be policy reasons against the
patentability of higher life forms, or
lower life forms for that matter,” Justice
Marshall Rothstein wrote for the majority.
“However, such arguments are for
Parliament, not the courts.”
A year after winning a case
against public animal sacrifice b e f o r e
the High Court in Kerala, India, A.V.K.
M o o s a d, 65, has filed a similar suit in
the Calcutta High Court against sacrifices
performed in the Kali temples of
West Bengal. India’s Prevention of
Cruelty to Animals Act exempts religious
sacrifice, but Moosad points out that if a
person offering a sacrifice does not claim
the remains, the meat is auctioned, turning
the purported rite into a commercial
transaction. Further, Moosad contends,
Hindu scripture establishes that the socalled
blood goddess Kali is vegetarian;
the sacrifices nominally made to her are
actually for the benefit of temple aides,
and therefore lack religious rationale.
Finally, Moosad argues, Article 48 of the
Constitution of India obliges the state to
prohibit the slaughter of cows and calves,
while Article 51 affirms the duty of citizens
to have compassion for all creatures.
These articles, Moosad contends, supersede
the exemption in the Prevention of
Cruelty to Animals Act. Moosad is
reportedly also preparing to charge Kerala
officials with contempt of court for failing
to enforce his victory there.
The Court of Common Pleas
of Schuykill County, Pennsylvania, on
August 15 accepted in settlement of a lawsuit
brought by the Fund for Animals an
agreement that, “Neither the defendant
Labor Day Committee, Inc. (of Hegins),
nor any person or organization acting on
its behalf or at its direction, will engage
in any event where live pigeons are shot.”
Held from 1934 through 1998, the Hegins
Labor Day pigeon shoot was stopped in
1999 when the Pennsylvania Supreme
Court ruled that the Pennsylvania SPCA
could charge the participants with cruelty.
Private pigeon shoots continue in
Pennsylvania, away from public observation,
pending establishment of a court
precedent for not only charging but convicting
a pigeon shooter of cruelty.
The Fund for Animals o n
August 21 asked the U.S. District Court in
Reno, Nevada, to enforce a 1997 agreement
requiring the Bureau of Land
Management to require all people who
adopt wild horses to sign an affidavit
pledging that the horses will not be sold
either for slaughter or for use as rodeo
bucking stock. The Fund alleged that at
least 575 BLM horses nonetheless went to
slaughter in 1998––sometimes almost as
soon as the adopters received title to the
animals, who by law must be kept for a
year before title is issued.”
Ocean Defense International
volunteer Erin Abbott, 24, was on
September 1 sentenced to do 120 hours of
community service and spend a year on
probation in exchange for a guilty plea to
one count of grossly negligent operation
of a vessel. Abbott in April was run over
by a Coast Guard inflatable power boat,
suffering a broken shoulder and ribs,
while trying to keep her personal watercraft
between a Makah whaling canoe and
any nearby whales.

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