Courtroom Animal Advocate Program (New Jersey)
Courtroom Animal Advocates
Courtroom Animal Advocate Program (CAAP) laws allow advocates — supervised law students or volunteer lawyers — to advocate for animal victims in criminal cruelty cases.
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. Introduced by Assemblyman Raj Mukherj (D-33) and Senator Nicholas Scutari (D-22), A.4533/S.2868 provides for an advocate in criminal cases concerning the welfare or care of an animal.
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.
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.
Current 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.2868. 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.