Tag: supreme court
The Nevada Supreme Court — no stranger to such matters — will decide whether Onion, the Mastiff mix who killed his owner’s grandson on his first birthday, should live or die.
The court will hear arguments — 30 minutes worth, it has specified — on July 3 before deciding whether the city of Henderson should be allowed to kill the dog.
Another option has been offered by the Lexus Project, a New York-based organization that provides legal representation to dogs.
The Lexus Project intervened in the case and wants to gain custody of Onion, then send him to live at a secure sanctuary in Colorado.
The 120-pound mastiff-Rhodesian ridgeback mix killed Jeremiah Eskew-Shahan by biting him on the head the day of his first birthday party. Later that day, the owner turned Onion over to Henderson animal control officers, who planned to kill the dog in accordance with the city’s vicious-dog ordinance.
The city turned down the Lexus Project’s offer to take responsibility for the dog, and has fought its request to be awarded custody. Onion’s former owner now wants Lexus to have the dog, according to the Las Vegas Sun.
The court battle has been going on for a year now.
Last year, Clark County District Court Joanna Kishner ruled the city of Henderson could proceed with the dog’s execution.
The state Supreme Court issued a stay — it’s second in the case — until arguments could be heard.
Those will take place July 3 at 11:30 a.m.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 15th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 120 pounds, animal control, animals, colorado, death, defense, dog, dogs, euthanasia, execution, henderson, jeremiah, legal, lexus project, life, mastiff, mix, nevada, onion, pets, rhodesian, ridgeback, safety, sanctuary, supreme court, the lexus project
The canine nose got a vote of confidence Tuesday from the U.S. Supreme Court.
The unanimous decision stemmed from a case in Florida in which defense attorneys questioned a drug-sniffing dog’s credentials and reliability, and whether his alert was just cause to search a truck police had stopped.
The court ruled that, in the case of trained and certified dogs, it is — or as Justice Elena Kagan put it: “The sniff is up to snuff.”
Kagan said a dog’s “satisfactory performance” in a certification or training program provided sufficient reason for an officer to trust its alert, even though errors “may abound” when dogs get put to the test in the field.
The justices said that training records had established the reliability of Aldo, a German shepherd, in sniffing out contraband, and that Florida’s Supreme Court erred in suppressing evidence he found in Clayton Harris’ pickup truck — namely, methamphetamine ingredients.
The ruling, Reuters reports, gives law enforcement greater authority to use dogs to uncover illegal drugs.
“The question – similar to every inquiry into probable cause – is whether all the facts surrounding a dog’s alert, viewed through the lens of common sense, would make a reasonably prudent person think that a search would reveal contraband or evidence of a crime,” Kagan wrote for the court. “A sniff is up to snuff when it meets that test.”
The Harris case is one of two the court is considering about the validity of evidence obtained by drug-sniffing dogs. The second — which the high court has heard, but not decided — involves a police dog named Franky, who alerted while standing on a home’s doorstep, prompting a search that led to the discovery of marijuana growing inside.
In the case decided Tuesday, defense lawyers for Harris challenged the search by Aldo, a police dog in Liberty County, Florida. The officer handling Aldo — because Harris appeared nervous and declined to approve a search of his vehicle — allowed the dog a “free air sniff.”
Based in part on Aldo’s reaction, a full search was conducted.
Harris’ lawyers challenged the search, questioning Aldo’s certification and whether he was reliable in sniffing out drugs.
Florida’s Supreme Court concluded that the state had not sufficiently established how well-trained Aldo was, and it ruled the evidence of the methamphetamine ingredients should not have been admitted.
Kagan wrote that the officer reasonably believed there was contraband inside the truck based on Aldo’s training, and that defense attorneys failed to show that Aldo was unreliable.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 20th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aldo, animals, certification, detecting, dogs, drug, florida, harris, ingredients, justice elena kagan, K-9, k9, law enforcement, liberty county, methamphetamine, nose, pets, police, reliability, ruling, scent, search, sniffing, supreme court, training, vehicle
Reacting to protests that erupted after a court decision declaring all pit bull type dogs “inherently dangerous,” the Maryland Senate has approved a new dog bite law that holds all breeds — and their owners — to the same standard.
The bill, considered emergency legislation, now goes to House of Delegates. Once signed by the governor, it becomes law, overriding the state Supreme Court decision that singled out pit bulls as dangerous and ended the requirement that, in liability cases, they be shown to have a history of aggression.
That resulted in a different standard for pit bulls, or any dogs deemed pit bull mixes, at least when it came to civil suits. While all other breeds would still have to be proven dangerous, pit bulls would not because, as the judges saw it, they were that way by definition.
Pit bull owners and lovers saw the dangers inherent in that — from the difficulties it could pose for those who rent, to pit bulls being abandoned at shelters — and began campaigning to have elected officials do something about it.
“It’s definitely a win for pit bull owners,” Katie Flory of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) told WJZ in Baltimore. “We really do feel this is really the best way to go … It is very important that we look at the animal as an individual and not just the breed.”
Posted by jwoestendiek August 13th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aggression, aggressive, animals, bites, breed-specific, breeds, civil, courts, dangerous, decision, dogs, inherently dangerous, laws, legislation, maryland, pets, pit bulls, pitbulls, senate, supreme court
Onion, the dog that killed a one-year-old boy in Nevada, has gotten another reprieve — this time from the state Supreme Court.
The Nevada Supreme Court on Friday approved an emergency petition filed by the Lexus Project, a non-profit group representing the dog, prohibiting the city of Henderson from euthanizing the dog today.
The Lexus Project asked the court Friday to give it time to file a full-scale appeal or to allow at least two weeks to study a 24-page decision of Clark County District Court Judge Joanna Kishner, who refused Thursday to further delay the euthanizing of Onion.
The Supreme Court’s order stated: “We conclude that a temporary stay is warranted pending receipt and consideration of any opposition to the stay motion.” The order, according to the Las Vegas Sun, enjoins ”respondents (City of Henderson) from taking any action against the dog at issue until further order of this court.”
Favoring the stay were Chief Justice Michael Cherry and Justice Mark Gibbons. Justice Nancy Saitta dissented, saying the Lexus Project had not met the criteria for granting a stay.
The victim, Jeremiah Eskew-Skahan, was celebrating his first birthday on April 27 at the home of his grandmother Elizabeth Keller when Onion, a 130-pound Mastiff-Rhodesian ridgeback mix, grabbed the boy by the head and started to shake him. The boy died in the hospital, and the family surrendered Onion to the city.
The Lexus Project initially filed suit and sought a stay to prevent the dog from being euthanized. Judge Kishner ruled against the organization, which then first appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court issued a stay at that time and ordered Kishner to take another look at the case, which resulted in her ruling Thursday that the city be allowed to go ahead with plans to destroy the dog.
Kathy McCarthy, an attorney representing the Lexus Project, said Kishner never notified the Lexus Project of that decision.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 4th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, appeal, boy, clark county, court, destroy, district court, dogs, euthanasia, euthanize, henderson, jeremiah, Jeremiah Eskew-Skahan, joanna kishner, judge, killed, mastiff, mix, nevada, onion, order, pets, put down, spare, stay, supreme court, the lexus project
The self-described “author and journalist” whose dogfighting videos were given the Supreme Court’s seal of approval this week, has at least three “pro-dogfighting videos” to his credit as well as an instructional book for aspiring dogfighters, the Humane Society of the United States says.
Robert “Bob” Stevens, a 69-year-old resident of Virginia, produced the videos “Japan Pit Fights,” “Pick a Winna,” and “Catch Dogs and Country Living.” He has also sold other dogfighting videos, including “The $100 Keep.”
Stevens, the first person tried and convicted under the now-defunct federal Depiction of Animal Cruelty Act, is also the author of “Dogs of Velvet and Steel.”
Stevens’ was convicted under the 1999 law in 2005 and sentenced to 37 months in prison. A decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit overturned the conviction, and the Supreme Court agreed with the appeals court decision this week.
While Stevens has claimed to be merely a pit bull lover with no interest in dogfighting, HSUS says the evidence points to the contrary. In “Dogs of Velvet and Steel,” he declares, “I attended many pit fights” and gives graphic accounts of several.
“Japan Pit Fights” includes a series of graphic dogfights. In “Pick-a-Winna,” Stevens invites viewers to pick the dog they think is going to win the fight. He goes on to act as commentator for each match, providing analysis on which dog is the better fighter.
“Theeeere they go!” he shouts as each new pit bull match launches.
Stevens’ final video, “Catch Dogs and Country Living,” is geared toward training dogs for hog catching, an event in which pit bulls commonly latch onto the faces of pigs. Sometimes the pigs go down, sometimes the dogs do.
During one scene a pit bull named Katie is shown doing “catch work” by latching onto the face of a farm hog. “In about three minutes there is no bottom jaw on that hog. Stevens says. “Katie took that, and good part of his throat and his nose out…”
(Photo: Stevens, in a scene from Pick-a-Winna)
Posted by jwoestendiek April 22nd, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: act, animal cruelty, bob stevens, book, catch dogs, catch dogs and country living, depiction, dog fighting, dogfighting, dogfights, dogs of velvet and steel, free speech, instructional, japan pit fights, manual, movies, news, pick a winna, robert stevens, supreme court, videos
The American Humane Association is urging Congress to act immediately in light of Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision to strike down a federal law that prohibited videos, photographs and other depictions of acts of cruelty to animals for commercial gain.
The association — which bestows the “No animals were harmed” disclaimer on movies — says a new law is needed to “protect animals from the type of horrific cruelty this law was meant to prevent.”
The law, the Depiction of Animal Cruelty Act, was intended to prevent the creation and sale of dogfighting, other animal fighting, and “crush” videos that show real and intentional harm to animals for “entertainment” purposes.
“Deliberately killing animals for entertainment has nothing to do with freedom of speech,” said American Humane’s interim president and CEO, George C. Casey. “Americans are within their right to keep blatant animal torture and killing out of the marketplace, and the Supreme Court should have made that the priority over the supposed protections of those who take sick pleasure in this material.”
The American Humane Association, whose mission is to protect both children and animals, says the connection between violence to people and violence to animals is undeniable, and many studies indicate that animal maltreatment is “part of a complex constellation of family violence.”
The Supreme Court Monday ruled on the case of Robert J. Stevens, who was convicted of selling videos of dogs fighting each other and attacking other animals. The court ruled the law was overly broad, and that such depictions are protected by free speech.
Stevens, who made the video “Catch Dogs and Country Living” — sounds almost civilized, don’t it? – was the first to be prosecuted under the federal law.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 22nd, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, american humane association, animal cruelty, animals, crush videos, depictions, dog fighting, dogfighting, films, freedom of speech, news, no animals were harmed, pets, pit bulls, robert J. stevens, supreme court, videos, violence
The Supreme Court has ruled that videos showing dogfights and other acts of animal cruelty are protected by free speech.
The court, in an 8-1 decision, struck down a federal law designed to stop the sale and marketing of such videos. The justices concluded the 10-year-old statute was overly broad.
The case before the court stemmed from an appeal by Robert Stevens, of Pittsville, Virginia, who sold videos through his business, Dogs of Velvet and Steel. The tapes show pit bulldogs attacking other animals and one another in staged confrontations.
The high court threw out Stevens’ conviction for selling depictions of animal cruelty.
Stevens argued his 37-month sentence sentence was longer than the 14 months given professional football player Michael Vick, who ran an illegal dogfighting ring.
His case was the first prosecution in the United States to proceed to trial under the 1999 law.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 20th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal cruelty, chief justice, child pornography, conviction, crush videos, decision, depictions, dissent, dissenting, dog fighting, dogfighting, dogfights, dogs of velvet and steel, first amendment, free speech, hsus, humane society of the united states, john roberts, law, opinion, overturned, protected, robert stevens, ruling, samuel alito, speech, statute, struck down, supreme court, video
The Vermont Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday in a case that could create a new precedent for animal lovers who sue over the loss of their dogs.
The lawsuit was filed by a Maryland couple — Sarah and Denis Scheele of Annapolis, whose mixed-breed dog “Shadow” was fatally shot in 2003, according to an ABC News report.
Lewis Dustin, 76, of Northfield, Vt., pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of animal cruelty and was given a year probation. He also was ordered to perform 100 hours of community service and pay $4,000 to the Scheeles for the costs of adoption, medical bills and cremation.
The Scheeles, however, say that doesn’t come close to covering the emotional cost inflicted by the incident and the loss of companionship.
“Shadow was our little boy, our son, our child,” Sarah Scheele wrote on her website JusticeforShadow.com. “We loved him as if he were our own flesh and blood.”
The couple filed a civil suit against Dustin in 2006, arguing that the dog was more than “mere property.”
The incident occurred during the Scheeles’ July 2003 visit to relatives in Northfield, Vt., a small town south of Montpelier. Shadow wandered into the neighboring yard of Dustin, who fired an air pellet rifle at the dog to scare him off his property.
Posted by jwoestendiek December 18th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal, annapolis, cost, courts, denis scheele, dog, dogs, emotional, family, justice for shadow, justiceforshadow.com, killed, law, lewis dustin, loss, maryland, northfield, pets, property, rifle, sarah scheele, shadow, shot, supreme court, vermont
Should the sale of videos depicting dogfighting and other animal cruelty be protected by the First Amendment?
That’s the question the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on today in the case of Robert J. Stevens, author and producer of several films about pit bulls and dogfighting.
Stevens, 69, says he had nothing to do with the dogfights themselves. He only made and sold tapes showing them — tapes he says had educational and historical value. He was convicted and sentenced to 37 months under a 1999 federal law that bans selling “depictions of animal cruelty.”
The law was struck down last year when a federal appeals court overturned Stevens conviction on First Amendment grounds.
The case has divided animal rights groups and free-speech advocates, according to the New York Times.
At issue is whether the court should designate a category of expression as so vile that it deserves no protection under the First Amendment. The last time the court did that was in 1982, with child pornography.
The law was enacted in 1999 in response to the sale of “crush videos,” which showed small animals being stomped on by women.
The law applies to recordings of “conduct in which a living animal is intentionally maimed, mutilated, tortured, wounded or killed.” It exempts materials with “serious religious, political, scientific, educational, journalistic, historical or artistic value.”
News organizations, including The New York Times, filed a brief supporting Stevens, arguing that the 1999 law “imperils the media’s ability to report on issues related to animals.”
In a brief supporting the government, the Humane Society of the United States said that “gruesome depictions of animal mutilation targeted” by the law “simply do not merit the dignity of full First Amendment protection.”
The American Humane Association also supports the federal government’s position. “This is a case about animal cruelty, plain and simple,” said American Humane President and CEO Marie Belew Wheatley. “… While many parties may argue the technicalities and interpretations of the law, the real focus should be that it is immoral, it is inhumane and it should be illegal to exploit, torture and kill animals for someone’s twisted sense of ‘entertainment’ and someone else’s profit.”
“While acts of animal cruelty have long been outlawed,” the brief for Stevens said, “there have never been any laws against speech depicting the killing or wounding of animals from the time of the First Amendment’s adoption through the intervening two centuries.” The brief also notes that Stevens’ sentence was 14 months longer than that of Michael Vick.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 6th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: american humane association, animal cruelty, arguments, crush videos, depictions, dogfighting, dogs, first amendment, free speech, hsus, recordings, robert J. stevens, supreme court, video
Animal “crush” videos — recorded depictions of extreme, and generally fatal, animal cruelty — have undergone a resurgence, ten years after they led to the passage of federal anti-animal cruelty laws, the Humane Society of the United States says.
With the U.S. Supreme Court is set to consider the constitutionality of a federal anti-animal cruelty law on Oct. 6, the HSUS revealed the results of a new investigation showing that such videos are widely available on the Internet, despite the decade-old law, and even more so since it was struck down by an appellate court last July.
The enactment of the Federal Depiction of Animal Cruelty Law in 1999 halted the proliferation of animal crushing operations, the HSUS said. The law has also been used to crack down on commercial dogfighting operations.
“The federal Depiction of Animal Cruelty Law is the only tool available to crack down on this horrific form of extreme animal cruelty,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. “We wouldn’t allow the sale of videos of actual child abuse or murder staged for the express purpose of selling videos of such criminal acts, and the same legal principles apply to despicable acts of animal cruelty.”
Pacelle wrote about the crushing issue on his blog yesterday.
The videos and photographs show, among other things, women, often in high-heeled shoes, impaling and crushing puppies, kittens and other small animals. Read more »
Posted by jwoestendiek September 16th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animal, animal cruelty, appelate, burned, cats, courts, crush, crushing, depictions, dogs, drowned, federal, hammers, hamsters, high heels, hsus, humane society of the united states, internet, investigation, kittens, law, mice, nails, puppies, rabbits, sales, struck down, supreme court, torture, video, videos, wayne pacelle