Animal Law Symposium: Los Angeles 2016

Animal Cruelty Prosecution

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 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!


Prosecuting Animal Cruelty Cases 101
Debbie Knaan, Deputy District Attorney and Animal Cruelty Case Coordinator, LA County
Mark Kumpf, Director, Montgomery County Animal Resources Center, Dayton, OH
Lora Dunn, Interim Director and Staff Attorney, Criminal Justice Program, Animal Legal Defense Fund
Moderator: Lindsay Larris, Los Angeles Regional Director, Animal Legal Defense Fund

Veterinary Forensics
Farshid Shahriar, DVM, MVSc, PhD, President, Animal Diagnostic Laboratory Veterinary Pathology Services and Consulting, Tustin, CA
Moderator: Joyce Tischler, Founder and General Counsel, Animal Legal Defense Fund

Jury Selection in Animal Cruelty Cases
Rich Matthews, Senior Trial Consultant, Juryology, San Francisco, CA
Moderator: Lora Dunn, Criminal Justice Program Staff Attorney, Animal Legal Defense Fund

Close Encounters of the Worst Kind: Police Shooting Dogs
Diane Balkin, Contract Attorney, Animal Legal Defense Fund
Karen L. Snell, Civil Rights Attorney, San Francisco, CA
Moderator: Kelsey Eberly, Litigation Fellow, Animal Legal Defense Fund

Legislative Options: How to Strengthen California’s Animal Cruelty Laws
The Honorable Joyce E. Dudley, District Attorney, Santa Barbara County
Kevin Weichbrod, Deputy District Attorney, Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office
Moderator: Jeff Pierce, Litigation Fellow, Animal Legal Defense Fund


Gold: Tatiana Freitas
Bronze: Anonymous
Cocktail: Davey’s Voice
Animal Protector: Alice Thompson