Short Film Released with Actress Anjelica Huston in Support of States Adopting Courtroom Animal Advocate Programs
Huston narrates the Animal Legal Defense Fund film demonstrating the impact legal advocates can have on behalf of animal cruelty victims
SAN FRANCISCO — Today, the Animal Legal Defense Fund released The Case for Courtroom Animal Advocate Programs, a short film narrated by Academy Award-winning actress and director Anjelica Huston, that focuses on the importance of Courtroom Animal Advocate Program (CAAP) laws. Bills have been introduced in New Jersey, New York, and Florida.
“Defense attorneys have a duty to their client, prosecutors have a duty to the state, but no one is tasked with directing the court’s attention to an animal victim’s needs,” says Anjelica Huston. “Animals involved in cruelty cases require special considerations — they can be living ‘evidence’ who need food, water, socialization, and veterinary care — and they need a voice in court.”
The film is available at aldf.org/CAAP.
Connecticut passed the nation’s first state-wide CAAP law in 2016, also known as Desmond’s Law. The film tells Desmond’s story — a dog who was found dead in a trash bag in the woods, after being strangled to death — and the campaign by local advocates and state legislators to pass the law in his name.
CAAP laws allow advocates — supervised law students or volunteer attorneys — to advocate for animal victims in criminal cruelty cases. Volunteers appear in court and assist the judge by drafting briefs, conducting research, gathering information from veterinarians, animal control officers, and law enforcement officials, and making recommendations on behalf of the animal victim’s interests.
“CAAP laws provide animal crime victims with an advocate whose duty is to represent the animal’s interests — properly contextualized within criminal law,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “The laws do not create new criminal violations or penalties — but simply provide animals a voice.”
In January 2020, Maine adopted a similar law, known as Franky’s Law, to help protect animals in the state.
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