“Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied” – An Update On Patrick The Miracle DogPosted by Scott Heiser, Director of ALDF's Criminal Justice Program on August 5, 2013
In April of 2011 we analyzed some of the sentencing issues likely to come up in New Jersey’s case against Kisha Curtis. Recall that Ms. Curtis was accused of starving a dog, Patrick, to the brink of death. Patrick was found wrapped in plastic and clinging to life after being thrown down an apartment building’s trash chute like a common piece of garbage. More than two years later we have reached the point of sentencing in the case. On Tuesday, Ms. Curtis pled guilty to animal cruelty, avoiding trial scheduled to begin on July 31 and absent any additional delays, Superior Court Judge Joseph Cassini, III will sentence her at 9:00 a.m. on August 29, 2013.
Our hats are off to David Feldman, Margarita Rivera, and Cheryl Cucinello of the Essex County Prosecutor’s office, all of whom had a hand in resolving this case after months of specious delay and gamesmanship by the defendant. There is an old adage in the law, related to a defendant’s right to a speedy trial: “Justice delayed is justice denied.” Only recently is that same notion—the right to a prompt resolution of a criminal case—being applied to crime victims with the enactment of state crime victims’ rights statutes.
Unfortunately, for now, New Jersey’s crime victims’ rights laws only recognize humans as victims. But the tide might be shifting a bit, at least in Oregon and Ohio, where courts have recognized that animals owned by the defendant who abused them qualify as victims for sentencing purposes (at least as to technical issues related to merging convictions).
Though he may not formally qualify as a crime victim entitled to invoke his rights under New Jersey’s Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights, Patrick is, in every sense of the word, a victim of abuse and we look forward to August 29th when we will learn what Judge Cassini considers to be a just sentence in a case of such protracted suffering. Don’t get your hopes up when it comes the issue of locking up Ms. Curtis—for first time offenders, New Jersey law (N.J. Stat. § 2C:44-1(e)) carries a presumption against incarceration.