Victory for Oregon’s First-Ever Dedicated Animal Cruelty Prosecutor: Jake KaminsPosted by Lora Dunn, ALDF Staff Attorney on October 16, 2014
When nearly 170 cattle were seized from the property of William Holdner and Jane Baum in summer 2012, many were so thin that their ribs were protruding, and some were so malnourished they could barely stand. Half of the herd suffered from untreated eye diseases, including cancer, and sadly some had to be euthanized due to their conditions. Even after two weeks of slow recovery, the cows were still severely emaciated, their Body Condition Scores mostly ranging between 1 and 3—a BCS for a healthy cow falls between 5 and 7.
In October 2014, thanks to the tremendous work of Deputy District Attorney Jake Kamins in one of the most complicated animal cruelty cases in Oregon’s history and a grueling three-week trial, Holdner and Baum were convicted in Columbia County, Oregon of more than 120 counts of animal cruelty—including 16 counts of first-degree neglect and 79 counts of second-degree neglect for Holdner. The defendants—owners of a commercial beef cattle operation—had argued that because the cows were “breeding stock,” it was appropriate to keep them as lean as they were to increase their reproductive capacity.
The jury didn’t buy it. After only a few hours of deliberation—despite being tasked with evaluating more than 100 separate cruelty counts—the jury convicted both defendants of animal neglect on every single count charged by the prosecution. Because Oregon law recognizes each cruelly treated animal as a separate crime victim, Holdner and Baum face multiple jail terms and fines for the cows they so severely neglected. Sentencing is currently set for December 2014.
Last year, ALDF awarded a grant to the Oregon District Attorneys Association to fund Oregon’s first-ever dedicated, full-time animal cruelty prosecutor. Jake is the first prosecutor in the nation who focuses solely on animal cruelty cases—crucial for the growing number of counties facing budget cutbacks. Jake is based out of Benton County, Oregon, but is available to all of the state’s district attorneys: In just over one year on the job, he has worked with the majority of Oregon’s 36 counties.
“This jury’s verdict sends a powerful message,” Jake said. “Neglectful treatment of any animal—including commercial livestock—is unacceptable in the State of Oregon.”
We commend Jake Kamins for his tireless work on this complex case, and we are hopeful that this cutting-edge program will be replicated in other states throughout the country—ensuring that perpetrators of animal cruelty are held accountable regardless of a county’s resources.