ALDF Cheers Court DecisionPosted on July 10, 2003
Animal Legal Defense Fund is awaiting final word from the Oregon Supreme Court regarding this cases appeal.
On July 9, the Oregon Court of Appeals struck down the state’s
controversial Measure 3 as unconstitutional. The initiative, passed in
the 2000 election, made it extremely difficult for animal shelters to
place abused animals in new, loving homes.
Measure 3 made numerous changes to the Oregon Constitution, many of
them restricting the forfeiture of property used in criminal
activities. The intention was to protect citizens from seizures until
they’d actually been convicted of a crime. Unfortunately, Measure 3
failed to distinguish animals from other types of personal property. In
the past, forfeiture laws had given Oregon courts the power to order
defendants charged with animal neglect or cruelty to pay the cost of
care for the mistreated animals. The courts could also grant shelters
permission to find new homes for the animals before the conclusion of
their former guardian’s criminal case (since court cases can drag on
for months or even years).
Soon after the election, the Lincoln Interagency Narcotics
Team, a law enforcement agency in Lincoln County, Ore., filed suit
arguing, in part, that Measure 3 was unconstitutional because it
violated the Oregon Constitution’s single-subject and separate-vote
requirements. ALDF (along with the Oregon Humane Society and the Humane
Society of the Willamette Valley) joined the challenge due to the
measure’s harmful impact on abused animals and the shelters that care
for them. ALDF contended then, as it does now, that there are many ways
to address concerns about Oregon’s forfeiture laws without causing
further harm to abused animals or crippling the shelters trying to save
them. In fact, in 2001 the Oregon Legislature enacted wide statutory
reforms to the civil forfeiture system which made the constitutional
changes of Measure 3 wholly unnecessary.
“This decision is a big win for abused animals throughout Oregon and
the shelters that care for them. We hope that the proponents of Measure
3 will respect the Court of Appeals’ well-reasoned decision and not
force us to continue diverting precious resources to a protracted
defense of the state’s vital animal protection laws,” says Stephan
Otto, co-plaintiff and attorney at ALDF’s Portland-based Anti-Cruelty
Division. “The Court of Appeals made the right decision, and we are
hopeful that this decision will stand.”
For more background information on ALDF’s Measure 3 challenge, click here.