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Courtroom Animal Advocate Program (New Jersey)


Courtroom Animal Advocate Program (CAAP) laws allow advocates — supervised law students or volunteer lawyers — to advocate for animal victims in criminal cruelty cases.


March 7, 2022

Work Type




We’re working to pass a Courtroom Animal Advocate Program bill that would empower law students and volunteer lawyers to advocate for animal victims in cruelty criminal cases. Sponsored by Senator Stack and Assemblywoman Quijano and co-sponsored by Assembly Members Verrelli, Auth, Reynolds-Jackson, Stanley, Karabinchak, Kean, Haider, Clifton, Dunn, Swift, Matsikoudis, and Flynn. S.282/A.2456 provides for an advocate in criminal cases concerning the welfare or care of an animal.

New Jersey: Ask Your Legislators to Protect Animal Cruelty Victims!

Tell legislators that you support a bill that would create a Courtroom Animal Advocate Program (CAAP) in New Jersey.

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The bill allows advocates to 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.

Legislative Affairs Manager Brian Hackett and Assembly Judiciary Chairman Raj Mukherji
Legislative Affairs Manager Brian Hackett with Assembly Judiciary Chairman Raj Mukherji, the leading sponsor of the NJ CAAP legislation, after the bill’s unanimous committee passage on February 14, 2022.

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 (the 2019 versions of the CAAP bill that the Animal Legal Defense Fund worked on). 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.

Strategic Legislative Affairs Manager Kathy Schatzmann (left) and Senator Nicholas P. Scutari after testifying in support of S.282.

Student Animal Legal Defense Fund chapter presidents, Alice Huang, Seton Hall Law School, and Stephanie Mignogna, Rutgers (Camden) Law School, worked with their respective chapter members to generate letters which were submitted to New Jersey legislators in support of S.282. In their letters, both student groups expressed interest in volunteering their time, as qualified Advocates, when this bill becomes law. The New Jersey chapters are members of the coalition of state and national organizations supporting the New Jersey CAAP bill.

Learn more about CAAP laws.