Court Calendar: Precedental verdicts
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2003:
A three-judge panel of the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled 2-1
on July 9 that a ballot initiative prohibiting the state government
from confiscating private property without first obtaining a criminal
conviction against the owner was structured in violation of state
constitutional rules. Passed by two thirds of the voters but not yet
enforced, the initiative was challenged by the Lincoln Interagency
Narcotics Team with several humane societies as co-plaintiffs. If
enforced in cruelty cases, the initiative could prevent taking
animals into protective custody upon charging the defendants, and
therefore might expose the animals to continued suffering.
Jailed for a year on July 1 without option of a fine by
Durban regional court magistrate Anand Maharaj, convicted dog killer
Ivan Tucker, 35, of Merebank, is believed to be the first South
African to serve time for cruelty to animals.
British High Court Justice Leveson ruled on June 30 that
although defendant Norman Shinton legally trapped a magpie in his
garden at Telford, Shropshire in July 2000, and was authorized to
confine the magpie under the 1981 wildlife and Countryside Act,
Telford district judge Philip Browning erred in dismissing a cruelty
charge brought by the Royal SPCA because the manner in which Shinton
confined the magpie did cause unnecessary suffering. In short,
wrote Nicola Woolcock of the Daily Telegraph, the High Court held
that even magpies have some limited legal rights.
A three-judge panel of the Louisiana 5th Circuit Court of
Appeal in late June overturned a ruling by Judge Alan Green of the
24th Judicial District Court that a Kenner ordinance limiting
residents to four domestic animals and four birds is
unconstitutional. The ordinance exempts pets under six months old.
The Wisconsin state Supreme Court ruled on June 25 that
Wisconsin Electric Power Co. can be held responsible for harming the
health of a dairy herd with stray voltage, even though
state-recommended voltage tests fail to detect the problem. The
ruling affirmed a jury award of $1.2 million to former dairy farmers
Allan and Beverly Hoffman of New London for damage allegedly done to
their farm by Wisconsin Electric Power Co. Among the problematic
aspects of stray voltage, associated with poorly grounded wires and
electrical equipment–and also of the use of electrical shock to goad
rodeo bulls–is that cattle are sensitive to electrical shocks at
levels humans barely feel.
The Washington State Supreme Court on June 19 affirmed a
lower court ruling that an anti-trapping initiative passed by 55% of
the electorate in 2000 did not violate the state constitution.
Allegations by PETA that former Las Vegas orangutan trainer
Bobby Berosine beat his animals, originally issued in 1989,
returned to court in June when PETA won a federal appeals court
ruling that Berosini and his wife owe the group more than $250,000 in
accumulated unpaid legal expenses. After PETA accused Berosini,
Berosini sued PETA and in 1990 won a $3.1 million defamation
judgement, but it was later reversed by the Nevada Supreme Court.
District Judge Nancy Becker awarded the legal fees to PETA, and PETA
has been trying to collect ever since.
A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
in May rejected the claim of anti-circus protester Pamelyn Vlasak
that her freedom of expression was violated at a 1999 demonstration
because she was not allowed to carry an ankus (elephant hook).
Police classified the ankus as a potential club.