Court Calendar

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2004:

First Amendment

Officials of the Granite School District in Taylorsville,
Utah agreed on February 3 to pay $82,000 to Utah Legal Clinic
attorneys Brian Bernard and James Harris Jr., in settlement of a
January 2004 ruling by U.S. District Judge Dee Benson of Salt Lake
City that the school district violated the civil rights of PETA
members by calling police to break up a 1999 demonstration in front
of Eisenhower Junior High School. The PETA members organized the
demonstration after the school hung a banner promoting the McDonald’s
restaurant chain from a flagpole.

Boston Superior Court Judge Janet L. Sanders on February 20
dismissed 39 charges filed against 12 activists, ages 18-26, who
protested in August 2002 outside the home of a Marsh USA insurance
executive because Marsh at the time held policies with Huntingdon
Life Sciences. The activists were charged with extortion,
threatening, stalking, and conspiracy. Most of the alleged acts,
Sanders ruled, consisted of constitutionally protected acts of free

Pigeon shoots

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on January 8, 2004 announced
that it would not consider an appeal by Pennsylvania Legislative
Action Network founder Johnna Seeton of the refusal of the Superior
Court of Berks County to issue an injunction against pigeon shoots
held by the Pike Township Sportsmen’s Association. A July 1999
Pennsylvania Supreme court verdict that pigeon shoot promoters and
participants could be charged with cruelty halted the Labor Day
pigeon shoot held for 65 years in Hegins, but the Berks County court
held that pigeon shoots do not violate Pennsylvania anti-cruelty law
if “reasonable efforts” are made to prevent and minimize the
resultant animal suffering.

The North Carolina Court of Appeals on February 2 ruled that
Granville County tobacco farmer John Malloy may host pigeon shoots at
which as many as 40,000 pigeons are killed, because the anti-cruelty
law under which the shoots were forbidden exempts wildlife and does
not include any standard for determining whether animals are wild or
domesticated. Malloy began holding pigeon shoots in 1987.
Then-North Carolina Governor James Hunt in 1998 signed into law a
bill “written specifically to outlaw pigeon shoots,” said Fund for
Animals national director Heidi Prescott, but Granville County
Superior Court Judge James Spencer Jr. in 2001 blocked enforcement by
finding the law unconstitutional. The North Carolina Network for
Animals challenged his right to do so. North Carolina Supreme Court
Justice Sarah Parker in June 2002 affirmed that Spencer could delay
enforcement pending the ruling by the Court of Appeals.

Murder & mayhem

Pig farmer Robert Pickton, 53, of Port Coquitlam, British
Columbia, held since February 2002 as sole suspect in the
disappearance of 64 women, and already facing 15 counts of murder,
was charged in early Febru-ary 2004 with seven more murders, and is
likely to be charged with another nine if police can identify the
women’s remains before his case goes to trial. Pickton allegedly fed
the women’s bodies into a woodchipper, then fed them to his pigs.
His victims have been named by sifting tons of earth over which hog
slurry was spread as fertilizer, to find chips of bone or tooth from
which DNA can be extracted.

Mark Scott Crosley, who operates a construction business
from his brother’s Engedi Game Farm, near Kruger National Park,
South Africa, has been held by police since February 9, along with
his employees Simon and Richard Mathebula, for allegedly beating
former employee Nelson Chisale and throwing him to the lions at the
Mokwalo White Lion Project, 10 miles away. Charges against fourth
suspect Robert Mnisi were dropped for undisclosed reasons on February
17. The four men were arrested after portions of Chisale’s skull and
legs were found. Mokwalo co-owner Albert “Mossie” Mostert figured
prominently in a 1997 expose of South African canned lion hunting,
produced by Roger Cook of The Cook Report, a British ITV
investigative magazine show.

Farmer Roger Baker, 61, of Ventongimps, Cornwall, U.K.,
was on January 23, 2004 convicted of “affray” for dragging animal
health inspector Jonathan McCulloch, 27, into knee-deep manure,
and then holding government veterinarian Susan Potter’s head down in
the manure when Potter, 46, tried to help McCullogh. Sentencing
was deferred. McCulloch and Potter were videotaping a dead lamb and
starving cattle on Baker’s land in February 2003 when he attacked
them, they testified. Baker three months earlier completed a
nine-month jail sentence for hurling a pitchfork at Potter and police
during a previous inspection. “The court was told that Baker had 48
previous convinctions. He had repeatedly breached a life ban on
keeping livestock,” imposed in 1999 after he served five and a half
months in jail for starving animals, reported Richard Savill of The
Daily Telegraph. “The Royal SPCA said he had been prosecuted for
animal cruelty more times than any other person since the legislation
was introduced in 1911.”


The Washington State Court of Appeals in mid-January 2004
ruled that any preventable pain suffered by animals, from “mild
discomfort” to “mental uneasiness,” “dull distress,” and
“unbearable agony,” can be enough to establish that a defendant is
guilty of causing “unnecessary” suffering, as required for
conviction under the state anti-cruelty statute. The court
reinstated the 2001 convictions of Vern and Katonya Zawistowski, of
Graham, for allowing two horses to become severely underweight.

British Columbia Judge Wayne Smith on February 9 fined
whalewatching guide Jim Maya, 64, $6,500 for too closely
approaching orcas off North Pender Island on August 14, 2002. “Only
a handful of such charges have ever been laid, and this is the first
against a whalewatching guide in 14 years,” wrote Kim Westad of the
Victoria Times Colonist. “The fine is believed to be the largest
assessed in B.C. for the charge.”

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