Speakers & Moderators
Diane Balkin, Contract Attorney, Animal Legal Defense Fund
Diane Balkin is a contract attorney for ALDF’s Criminal Justice Program. She began her career as a prosecutor in the Denver District Attorney’s Office in 1979, where she has worked for the last 32 years. When she retired from the DA’s office on July 15, 2011, Diane was the Chief Deputy District Attorney (trial attorney) where she prosecuted all types of felonies (including homicides) and supervised a team of junior lawyers and support staff. Diane also served as the “animal crimes” prosecutor in her office where she demonstrated time and time again her commitment to ensuring both an effective investigation and an aggressive prosecution of every animal cruelty case within her jurisdiction.
Prior to becoming Chief Deputy, Diane served as the director of the Complex Prosecution Division where she was the legal advisor to the Denver County Statutory Grand Jury and she supervised the investigation and prosecution of crimes committed against the elderly. She has also served as the director of the Juvenile Division and the Domestic Violence Unit. Diane was appointed to the Colorado State Board of Veterinary Medicine in June 2001 and served on the Board for 8 years. She received her J.D. in 1977 from the University of Denver and is a nationally ranked lecturer on animal cruelty investigations and prosecutions with a strong emphasis on training veterinarians.
Lora Dunn, Interim Director and Staff Attorney, Criminal Justice Program, Animal Legal Defense Fund
As Staff Attorney for ALDF’s Criminal Justice Program, Lora Dunn assists prosecutors and law enforcement throughout the country on animal cruelty cases—from research and written support on motions, pleadings, and briefs to trainings and presentations. Lora has been instrumental in expanding the Criminal Justice Program’s amicus brief work (“friend of the court” briefs), including such seminal cases as State v. Fessenden (exigency exception to the warrant requirement applies to animal victims in emergency situations), and State v. Nix (animals as crime “victims” for sentencing purposes). In 2015, Lora successfully lobbied for an ALDF bill that allows private citizens to enjoin animal cruelty crimes through Oregon’s nuisance abatement code. Lora is an adjunct professor at Lewis and Clark Law School, where she teaches the Crimes Against Animals course.
The Honorable Joyce E. Dudley, District Attorney, Santa Barbara County
Joyce E. Dudley was elected District Attorney of Santa Barbara County in June 2010 and assumed office on June 22, 2010. District Attorney Dudley is dedicated to fulfilling the primary function of the District Attorney’s Office, which is to seek justice for all.
District Attorney Dudley has followed through on her commitment to the voters of Santa Barbara County by bringing transparency, improved communication and innovation to the District Attorney’s Office. Since taking office, she has instituted a number of positive changes, including: creating an Arson Task Force, reorganizing the District Attorney’s Office to improve its efficiency and effectiveness, expansion of the Vulnerable Victims Unit, additional of a full-time highly trained canine companion, initiation of a volunteer attorney program to introduce new attorneys to the field of criminal prosecutions, reestablishment of a Truancy Program in Santa Barbara County, and the creation of the Santa Barbara Misdemeanor Diversion Program.
In addition to working closely with all public safety agencies, District Attorney Dudley is committed to working with other public agencies and private community organizations countywide to improve and coordinate efforts to prevent crime.
District Attorney Dudley began her legal career in the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office in 1990. She has prosecuted well over one thousand cases including murder, arson, robbery, burglary, crimes involving sexual offenses, crimes against children and hate crimes. Involvement in community activities has been a priority for District Attorney Dudley during her career as a prosecutor. She has received numerous awards honoring her outstanding performance and volunteer activities from law enforcement agencies as well as community organizations.
Kelsey Eberly, Litigation Fellow, Animal Legal Defense Fund
Kelsey Eberly, Litigation Fellow with the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), assists the organization with its cases and projects. During her fellowship with ALDF, she has worked on behalf of primates in laboratories and farmed animals subjected to the cruelties of industrial agriculture, and fought to vindicate the rights of consumers deceived by animal-abusing businesses and of citizens to access public information and government decision-making regarding the use and abuse of animals.
Kelsey is a former clerk for ALDF and before that served as a legal intern with Compassion Over Killing. She graduated from UCLA Law School in May 2014, where she focused on animal, environmental, and administrative law, and chaired UCLA’s student Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF) chapter, the Animal Law Society. Prior to receiving her law degree, she earned a graduate certificate in Animal Policy and Advocacy from Humane Society University in 2011. In 2006, she received a bachelor’s degree magna cum laude from Middlebury College, with a double major in English and Spanish.
Debbie Knaan, Deputy District Attorney and Animal Cruelty Case Coordinator, LA County
Deborah Knaan has been a Deputy District Attorney with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, the largest prosecuting agency in the country, since 1996. Her assignments have included prosecuting hardcore gang crimes and sexual assaults and child molestation. Ms. Knaan has been involved in animal welfare issues in various capacities for the past 15-plus years.
In 2004 Ms. Knaan was appointed to the Los Angeles City Board of Commissioners for the Los Angeles Department of Animal Services by Mayor Jim Hahn. As a commissioner, Ms. Knaan was responsible for overseeing and setting policy for the Department of Animal Services, hearing appeals in cases involving issues that pertained to animals and public safety, drafting and approving local ordinances, and reviewing city contracts.
In 2006 Ms. Knaan was given a leave of absence from the District Attorney’s Office to serve as Assistant General Manager of Operations for the Department of Animal Services. In that position Ms. Knaan oversaw the day-to-day operations of the six City-run animal shelters and supervised the field officers who were responsible for enforcing various animal related offenses and investigating incidents of animal cruelty.
In 2007 Ms. Knaan returned to the District Attorney’s Office to create and head up the office’s first animal cruelty prosecution program, the only one of its kind in the country. There are currently 30 specially trained prosecutors assigned to prosecute animal abuse cases. As the District Attorney’s Office’s Animal Cruelty Case Coordinator, Ms. Knaan is responsible for overseeing the prosecution of all felony animal cruelty cases within the County of Los Angeles. Ms. Knaan regularly trains prosecutors and animal control and law enforcement agencies on how to investigate, file, and prosecute cases in which animals have been mistreated. She is frequently invited to speak at professional conferences, and to agencies and groups that play a critical role in recognizing, reporting, or investigating animal cruelty cases.
During her tenure as Animal Cruelty Case Coordinator Ms. Knaan has devised and implemented many programs, including a dog fighting tip line, a court-ordered curriculum for defendants convicted of animal neglect, and a public awareness campaign that warns members of the public of the dangers (and illegality) of leaving animals in hot vehicles. Ms. Knaan has also authored several pieces of legislation that strengthen protections afforded to animals under the law.
Mark Kumpf, CAWA, Chief Dog Warden, Montgomery County, Ohio
Mark is an internationally and nationally respected animal control professional who has been in the field since 1989. He started his career in animal welfare with the City of Norfolk Virginia Police Department. In 2004, he was named Superintendent of the newly formed Animal Services Division for the City of Newport News, Virginia. Mark became the Director of the Montgomery County Animal Resource Center in 2006. He was qualified as a Certified Animal Welfare Administrator by the Society of Animal Welfare Administrators on January 1, 2008, one of three in Ohio at that time. He is the current President of the Dayton Alliance for Companion Animals (DACA), an organization formed to end needless euthanasia of healthy, adoptable animals in Montgomery County which realized that goal in 2014. In Ohio, he has worked on legislation related to bond provisions for animal cruelty cases, HB71, and HB14 that revised the definition of “dangerous dog” to remove dogs designated by breed alone. The National Animal Control Association recognized the Animal Resource Center as the Outstanding Agency of the Year in 2010 and 2012. Mark is the current President of the Ohio County Dog Wardens Association and co-chair of the National Coalition On Violence Against Animals. He has received numerous awards including being named Animal Control Officer of the year twice by the Virginia Federation of Humane Societies, Millennium International ACO by the Western Australian Rangers Association, Outstanding Animal Welfare Contribution Award by the United Kingdom National Dog Wardens Association, Lifetime Member by the Virginia Animal Control Association and, most recently, the 2015 Pursuit of Justice Award from the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys.
Lindsay Larris, Los Angeles Regional Director, Animal Legal Defense Fund
As ALDF’s first regional director, Lindsay Larris directs ALDF operations and resources in Southern California. In this position, Lindsay develops objectives specific to the Los Angeles region and coordinates regional resources in support of ALDF’s national goals. Prior to working at ALDF, Lindsay spent seven years practicing civil litigation in Los Angeles, including in environmental litigation, trust and estate litigation, and international arbitration. While in private practice at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, LLP, Lindsay served as pro bono co-counsel with ALDF on behalf of consumers in a “puppy mills” lawsuit filed against the Barkworks pet store chain for misrepresenting the care and origin of its puppies.
Lindsay graduated from University of Pennsylvania Law School in 2007 and cum laude from New York University in 2003 with a degree in political science. While a law student, Lindsay co-founded the Journal of Animal Law and Ethics, helped bring an animal law clinic to Penn Law, and served as president of her student ALDF chapter (SALDF).
Lindsay has been passionate about animal rescue and animal protection issues since she helped her father build a home for feral kittens as a child. Lindsay has fostered and found homes for numerous cats and kittens across the country, from New York to Los Angeles. Lindsay currently serves on the board of the Kitty Bungalow Charm School for Wayward Cats, a nonprofit rescue group in downtown Los Angeles, and she is committed to socializing feral kittens and reducing the number of animals killed in Los Angeles shelters. Lindsay lives in Pasadena with her aggressively friendly cat Leo.
Rich Matthews, Senior Trial Consultant, Juryology, San Francisco, CA
Rich Matthews, trial consultant and California attorney, received his J.D. from the University of Oregon School of Law. Kind of a “mythbuster” for a lot of the widespread but often incorrect beliefs about jurors and jury selection, Rich combines research with psychology with artistic craft to get the best results from jurors. His expertise includes separating jury issues from the legal issues; crafting the themes and frames that will shape juror perception of a case; writing openings and closings like an actual human actually speaks to other actual humans; witness preparation; and all things related to jury selection from juror questionnaires and voir dire questions to exercising cause and peremptory challenges. Rich has innovated the use of focus group results at mediations and in negotiations to achieve better settlements in a shorter time than clients had experienced without them.
Rich has achieved successful results for both plaintiffs and defendants in the civil world, and prosecutors and defendants in criminal cases.
Rich has appeared on national television and in major publications offering commentary on high profile trials. He serves on the California Bar’s Litigation Section’s committee for comment on proposed revisions to California’s standard jury instructions, lending his juror expertise to improving the understandability and clarity of jury instructions.
Rich lives in San Francisco and works nationwide. He blogs at Juryology.com, Tweets @Juryology, searchable on LinkedIn by the word “Juryology,” and can be contacted by email at Rich@Juryology.com.
Jeff Pierce, Litigation Fellow, Animal Legal Defense Fund
Jeff Pierce assists ALDF with its major caseload as a litigation fellow. He is a graduate of Stanford Law School, where, as a SALDF member, he conducted legal research for Compassion Over Killing and oversaw his chapter’s pro bono efforts on behalf of that organization. As a law student, Jeff not only clerked for ALDF but also served as Editor-in-Chief of Stanford’s Journal of Animal Law and Policy.
In addition to law, Jeff studied biology at Duke University, where he graduated summa cum laude, and theology at Yale University. He received a Fulbright Fellowship to research the impact of commercial forestry on rural communities and wildlife in Swaziland, in southern Africa. Jeff hopes to focus on the well-being of wildlife, both captive and non-captive.
Farshid Shahriar, DVM, MVSc, PhD, President, Animal Diagnostic Laboratory Veterinary Pathology Services and Consulting, Tustin, CA
Dr. Shahriar is a board certified veterinary pathologist with many years of experience in research, diagnostic veterinary pathology, and pathological analysis of animal cruelty cases.
Dr. Shahriar received his DVM from Tehran University, and completed a residency program in veterinary anatomic pathology followed by a PhD in Immunopathology from Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM), in Canada. He is a board certified veterinary anatomic pathologist and has worked in both Canada and the United States. In 2006 he moved to Southern California and joined University of California, Davis, CAHFS laboratories. He has pathology expertise in a wide range of domestic and exotic animal species, including the specialty of forensic pathology frequently required for animal cruelty cases.
He founded Animal Diagnostic Laboratory (ADL) in 2012, and is currently the president of ADL in Tustin, California. His goal is to provide veterinary pathology expertise to all Southern California animal shelters, veterinary hospitals and pet owners, and to establish organized veterinary pathology forensic services for law enforcement officers.
Dr. Shahriar is the author of several scientific publications in peer-reviewed journals, and a member of many scientific organizations.
Karen L. Snell, Civil Rights Attorney, San Francisco, CA
Karen L. Snell is a constitutional litigator, focusing on civil rights, federal criminal defense and complex civil litigation. She has successfully represented plaintiffs in a number of civil rights matters, including excessive force, unlawful search and seizure and First Amendment cases. She has successfully sued for damages under the federal civil rights act on behalf of dog owners whose pets were shot and killed by police officers. Ms. Snell is also a nationally recognized expert in international extradition defense.
Ms. Snell graduated from Stanford University with a B.A. in philosophy in 1977. She received her J.D. from Stanford Law School in 1981. She began her legal career at the San Francisco law firm Morrison & Foerster. In 1989 she joined the Federal Public Defender’s Office in San Francisco, and eventually became the Supervising Attorney in charge of training trial attorneys. In 1996, Ms. Snell formed Clarence, Snell & Dyer LLP, a five attorney litigation firm where she was a named partner until 2003. She now handles select civil rights cases from her home in San Francisco and serves as General Counsel of the Institute for International Criminal Investigation, a non-profit organization that trains war crimes investigators.
Ms. Snell is a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers. She was appointed to the founding Board of the Habeas Corpus Resource Center by California Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald George, and was a founding member of San Francisco Women Lawyers’ Alliance. She served for many years as the chair of the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice Federal Practice Committee. She regularly teaches ethics for the Northern District of California Criminal Justice Panel and has taught trial advocacy at Stanford Law School, University of San Francisco, and Cardozo Law School.
Joyce Tischler, Founder and General Counsel, Animal Legal Defense Fund
As founder of the Animal Legal Defense Fund in 1979, California attorney Joyce Tischler has helped create and shape the emerging field of animal law. Joyce litigated some of the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s earliest cases, including a 1981 lawsuit that halted the U.S. Navy’s plan to kill 5,000 feral burros, and a 1988 challenge to the U.S. Patent Office’s rule allowing the patenting of genetically altered animals. Joyce has lectured extensively in the U.S. and abroad, teaches an introduction to animal law course, developed the first-ever farmed animal law and policy class, and is currently co-authoring a casebook related to animal law. Her recent publications include:
Animal Protection and Environmentalism: The Time Has Come To Be More Than Just Friends co-authored with Bruce Myers, in What Can Animal Law Learn from Environmental Law? Randall S. Abate (ed.) (2015). Changing the Dialogue About Elephants, 33 Quinnipiac L. Rev. 485 (2015); The History of Animal Law, Part II (1985- 2011), 5 Stan. J. Animal L. & Pol’y 27 (2012), and The History of Animal Law, Part I (1972-1987), 1 Stan. J. Animal L. & Pol’y 1 (2008). She has been quoted in top media outlets, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, Science Magazine and People Magazine. Joyce is a Recipient of the American Bar Association TIPS Animal Law Committee’s Excellence in the Advancement of Animal Law Award. She was the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s first executive director for 25 years and now serves as the agency’s general counsel.
Kevin Weichbrod, Deputy District Attorney, Santa Barbara County
Kevin Weichbrod is a Deputy District Attorney in the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office specializing in animal cruelty and environmental protection. Kevin graduated UCSB in 2005 with a degree in physics and a concentration in astrophysics, before completing California Western School of Law. During law school he was awarded for his public service and participated in the environmental law society before becoming a Patent Attorney and working with renewable energy companies in the San Diego area. In 2010, Kevin joined the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s Office, and in 2014 was awarded as the California Wildlife Prosecutor of the year. Kevin helped to establish the Santa Barbara County Environmental and Anti-Animal Cruelty Task Forces and has participated in, or led, multiple state-wide civil environmental and consumer protection cases. In additional to large civil environmental settlements against polluters, Kevin has prosecuted numerous high-profile serious felony cases. Such cases include: People v. Chen, a heinous case where a 5 month-old Doberman pinscher was tortured and burned, and the criminal investigation and eventual indictment by grand jury relating to the Santa Barbara Refugio Oil Spill.
Stephen Wells, Executive Director, Animal Legal Defense Fund
Stephen Wells is the executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF). Prior to joining ALDF in 1999, Steve served as the executive director of the Alaska Wildlife Alliance in Anchorage where he worked to protect Alaska’s wildlife, particularly wolves and bears, and its unique wild places. Steve was a primary leader in the successful ballot initiative banning “same-day airborne wolf hunting” which allowed the use of airplanes to kill wolves.
Upon joining the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Steve founded and served as the director of the Animal Law Program, which provides support and resources to law professional and law student members and pro bono opportunities for attorneys and firms to assist ALDF with its mission.
He helped stop wild animal trainers in Los Angeles from abusing primates in a landmark lawsuit and helped to set up a sanctuary for hundreds of animals in the infamous North Carolina Woodley hoarding case. Steve has also raised significant funds to create the ALDF Fellowship program and helps ALDF fund an expanding vision for the Center for Animal Law Studies at Lewis & Clark Law School.
Steve is credited with creating the in-house litigation program, with the help of Carter Dillard—ALDF’s litigation director. With the establishment of the new department ALDF quadrupled its caseload.
Steve expanded the Animal Law Program and helped to exponentially expand the student chapters (SALDF) of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, growing from 6 chapters to more than 200 chapters today. Where there was once 12 animal law classes offered in the United States and Canada, there are now there are more than 140.
Steve’s leadership also led to the creation of ALDF’s pro bono program—which now has 1.2 million in donated legal services annually. Steve prides himself in creating a highly efficient, passionate, and talented team at ALDF.
Steve has committed himself to animal and environmental protection and has continued to volunteer his time for local organizations and projects. He lives in the western woodlands of Sonoma County, California with his dog, Eve.