Animal Law Symposium 2016: Animal Cruelty ProsecutionPosted by Lora Dunn, Interim Director and Staff Attorney, Animal Legal Defense Fund on June 1, 2016
On May 21, 2016 the Animal Legal Defense Fund gathered experts in criminal animal cruelty cases for our second-annual Los Angeles symposium, Animal Cruelty Prosecution: Pitfalls and Progress.
Kicking off the day was our Prosecuting Animal Cruelty Cases 101 panel, with animal control professional Mark Kumpf and L.A. County Deputy District Attorney Debbie Knaan sharing strategies for building a successful animal cruelty case from the ground up—from processing the crime scene through analyzing potential criminal charges. Dr. Farshid Shahriar then walked us through the importance of veterinary forensics in linking the perpetrator to the animal victim, such as conducting a thorough necropsy (an autopsy for an animal).
Senior Trial Consultant Rich Matthews—a “myth buster” of traditional beliefs about jury selection—shared some insider tips and tricks of the voir dire process, which can be the most crucial part of any criminal prosecution. Veteran prosecutor and ALDF Criminal Justice Program attorney Diane Balkin and civil rights attorney Karen Snell addressed the host of issues surrounding canine encounters with law enforcement, and proposed strategies for addressing these heartbreaking and often fatal cases.
The symposium concluded with the tragic story of a 5-month-old Doberman pinscher named Davey, who suffered horrendous injuries at the hands of his abuser. District Attorney Joyce E. Dudley and Deputy District Attorney Kevin Weichbrod of the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office, who worked tirelessly to prosecute Davey’s case, also proposed legislative changes to California’s animal cruelty laws and related legislation bolster better outcomes in animal cruelty cases.
We’re grateful to all of this year’s speakers and attendees for making our second annual symposium such a success!