Criminal Justice Program
Scott Heiser heads up ALDF’s Criminal Justice Program and provides a full spectrum of services to law enforcement and prosecutors who investigate and litigate animal cruelty cases. Scott and his team (with over 60 years of prosecution experience among them) regularly provide training to law enforcement officers and prosecutors across the country on how to achieve the best possible outcomes in animal cruelty investigations and prosecutions. Under Scott’s leadership, ALDF has forged partnerships with both the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys (APA) and the National District Attorneys Association (NDAA) to provide the training necessary to ensure that prosecutors get the results these cases deserve.
A prosecutor for seventeen years, Scott served the last eight of those as the elected district attorney in Benton County, Oregon. He has been president of the Oregon District Attorneys Association (ODAA) and a member of the Governor’s Drug and Violent Crime Advisory Committee. Scott also served on the board of directors for the Heartland Humane Society in Corvallis, Oregon. While Scott has prosecuted all types of criminal conduct including capital murder, he has always found animal cruelty cases among the most compelling cases he has handled. His passion for holding animal abusers accountable for their crimes led Scott to join ALDF.
Scott also lectures on issues related to animal cruelty prosecution
and is a member of the adjunct faculty at Lewis & Clark Law School.
In fact, Scott was the number-one conference attendee-rated speaker at
the national Taking Action for Animals (TAFA) conference, and he
consistently receives the highest praise for his engaging lectures.
Scott received his JD from Northwestern School of Law of Lewis &
Clark College and his undergraduate degree in economics from Oregon
State University. Scott is a regular instructor at trainings hosted by
the Oregon Department of Justice and has served on the board of
directors of his local humane society animal shelter, helping to fund
the construction of a new shelter. In 2011 Scott received the Diamond
Collar Award from the Oregon Humane Society for his work on behalf of
animals. In addition to spending time with their canine and feline
family members, Scott and his wife enjoy sailing, whitewater kayaking,
and scuba diving.
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.
Geoff Fleck is a contract attorney for ALDF’s Criminal Justice Program. Geoff has most recently been employed as an Assistant State Attorney for the State Attorney's Office, 8th Judicial Circuit, Gainesville, Florida, where he has worked since May of 1997. During that time he has had trial responsibility for complex white collar crimes as well as felony cases including homicides and other violent crimes and offenders. He has also served as the office's Training Supervisor and coordinated internal training in trial preparation and practice for the attorney staff. His passion, however, is the prosecution of animal cruelty and fighting cases.
Prior to joining the State Attorney's Office, Geoff practiced in the Miami-Dade County area of the state as a partner in the law firm of Friend & Fleck, P.A. and as a sole practitioner where he specialized in criminal defense and post-conviction litigation. Geoff is a 1972 graduate of Emory University (B.A.) and a 1975 graduate of the University of Miami Law School. He is admitted to and a member in good standing of the Florida Bar and the Association of Trial Lawyers of America and while in private practice was admitted to the federal Southern and Northern District of Florida bars as well as the 2d, 4th, 5th, new 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Bars and the United States Supreme Court. In the past several years, Mr. Fleck has prosecuted dozens of felony animal cruelty cases, many through verdict after jury trials, often resulting in substantial sentences of incarceration. He speaks regularly on animal protection issues, has been appointed Vice Chair of the Florida Bar Animal Law Committee for the second year, more recently was appointed chair of its CLE subsection, and was recognized by the Animal Legal Defense Fund as one of the nation's top animal rights prosecutors in 2009.