Courtroom Animal Advocate Program (New Jersey)
A-4840 and S-3322 create a Courtroom Animal Advocate Program (CAAP) in New Jersey. Sponsored by Assemblymember Annette Quijano and Senator Nicholas P. Scutari respectively, these bills would empower law students and volunteer lawyers to advocate for dog and cat victims in animal cruelty criminal cases. These advocates 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.
In 2016, Connecticut became the first state to enact a CAAP law (also known as Desmond’s Law). Connecticut’s CAPP law gives abused animal a greater chance of receiving justice. Since its enactment, the state has seen an increase in animal cruelty investigations and prosecutions. After learning about Connecticut’s CAAP law during the 2018 Animal Legal Defense Fund Student Convention, Emily Banks, former president of the Rutgers Law School Animal Legal Defense Fund Student Chapter, worked with New Jersey legislators to introduce A-4840 and S-3322. She was inspired by keynote presenter Jessica Rubin, Director of the University of Connecticut School of Law’s Legal Practice Program, who spoke about her instrumental role in creating and managing Desmond’s Law in Connecticut.