California

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People v. Maikhio


Defendant was charged with possession of a spiny lobster during closed season and failure to exhibit his catch as required by a statute. The Supreme Court held that the statute authorizes a warden to demand that a person who is or has recently been fishing or hunting to display his catch; the Fourth Amendment does not preclude a warden from briefly stopping a person. The warden's knowledge that the defendant lied in claiming he had caught nothing established probable cause to search his vehicle. By denying that he had caught anything, defendant failed to display his catch upon demand.

People v. Flores


Defendant Flores appeals his conviction under Penal Code section 399 for allowing a " mischievous animal" owned by him to cause serious injury to another person. In this case, defendant's pit bull dog, "Blue,"attacked defendant's almost 90-year old neighbor on his own property causing deep injuries to his leg. Blue had been previously involved in three other incidents where he either tried to attack other dogs or acted aggressively toward other humans. As a result of these incidents, Sonoma County officials issued defendant a issued a potentially dangerous animal warning. On appeal, defendant argued that there was insufficient evidence that he acted without ordinary care in keeping his dog and that the victim-neighbor did not suffer a serious injury as defined by statute. The court found both of these arguments without merit. While defendant suggested that he acted with "ordinary care" by keeping the dog tethered and chained outside on the day of the incident, the court found the evidence showed Blue had broken free in the past and had "massive strength." Further, even though the potentially dangerous dog designation by the county did not mandate that Blue be kept inside or in a secure enclosure, the ordinance language provides this requirement. Leaving a dog with a history of unprovoked attacks chained next to a public sidewalk in a residential neighborhood supported the jury's conclusion that defendant did not act as reasonably careful person would in the same situation. As to the serious bodily injury claim, the court noted that although the law does not define the term, there was substantial medical evidence to support the jury's determination. Affirmed.

People v. Flores


Defendants were tried for allegedly invading an eighty-year-old woman's home and stealing, at gun point, and holding ransom eight seven-week-old puppies and two adult female Yorkshire terriers which she bred for the American Kennel Club for about $3,000 each.  The jury held the defendants responsible for 18 counts of various crimes, including robbery, grand theft dog, elder abuse, conspiracy and cruelty to animals, inter alia.  The appellate court reversed the counts of grand theft dog which were improperly based on the same conduct as the robbery conviction, reduced the sentence on the counts for abuse of an elder, and otherwise found no additional errors. 

People v. Chung


Defendant appealed the denial of his motion to suppress evidence in an animal cruelty case. Defendant claimed officers violated his Fourth Amendment rights when they entered his residence without a warrant or consent to aid a dog in distress. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the exigent circumstances exception to the warrant requirement applied because officers reasonably believed immediate entry was necessary to aid a dog that was being mistreated.

People v. Chenault Darrell Chenault was convicted on 13 counts of lewd acts on a child under 14 years of age and sentenced to 75 years to life in prison. On appeal he contended that the trial court abused its discretion by allowing a support dog to be present during the testimony of two child witnesses without individualized showings of necessity, and that the presence of the dog was inherently prejudicial and violated his federal constitutional rights to a fair trial and to confront the witnesses against him. The appellate court concluded that a trial court has authority under Evidence Code section 765 to allow the presence of a therapy or support dog during a witness’s testimony.” The court did “not believe that the presence of a support dog is inherently more prejudicial than the presence of a support person,” citing the New York case of Tohom. Chinault argued that “individualized showings of necessity” should have been required for F. and C. before the support dog could be present in the courtroom. The appellate court concluded however that “a case-specific finding that an individual witness needs the presence of a support dog is not required by the federal Constitution,” for which Tohom was again cited. Based on the court's review of the record, the appellate court concluded that the trial court made implicit findings that the presence of Asta, the support dog, would assist or enable F. and C. to testify completely and truthfully without undue harassment or embarrassment. The court also took measures to reduce any possible prejudice to Chenault by setting forth logistics for the entry, positioning, and departure of the support dog, along with F. and C., during jury recesses so the dog was as unobtrusive and least disruptive as reasonably possible. The judgment was affirmed.
People v. Brunette


Defendant was convicted of animal cruelty, and was ordered to pay restitution to the Animal Services Authority (“Authority”) that cared for the dogs. The appellate court held that the imposition of an interest charge on the restitution award was not authorized by the statutes. It also held that the Authority was an indirect victim, and was not entitled to direct victim restitution. The Court held that the trial court had discretion to decline to apply comparative fault principles to apportion defendant's liability for restitution and also acted within its discretion in declining to apply an offset for adoption fees the Authority might have collected against the restitution award.

People v. Berry


In a prosecution arising out of the killing of a two-year-old child by a pit bulldog owned by a neighbor of the victim, the owner was convicted of involuntary manslaughter (Pen. Code, §

 

192, subd. (b)), keeping a mischievous animal (Pen. Code, §

 

399), and keeping a fighting dog (Pen. Code, §

 

597.5, subd. (a)(1)). The Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that an instruction that a minor under the age of five years is not required to take precautions, was proper. The court further held that the trial court erred in defining "mischievous" in the jury instruction, however, the erroneous definition was not prejudicial error under any standard of review. The court also held that the scope of defendant's duty owed toward the victim was not defined by Civ. Code, §

 

3342, the dog-bite statute; nothing in the statute suggests it creates a defense in a criminal action based on the victim's status as a trespasser and on the defendant's negligence.

People v. Baniqued


Defendant appealed from a judgment of the Superior Court of Sacramento County, California, ordering their conviction for cockfighting in violations of animal cruelty statutes.  The court held that roosters and other birds fall within the statutory definition of "every dumb creature" and thus qualify as an "animal" for purposes of the animal cruelty statutes.

People v. Alvarado


A man stabbed and killed his two dogs while drunk.  His girlfriend called the police after being informed of the situation by her brother.  The trial court convicted the man of violating an anti-cruelty statute (Sec. 597 of the Penal Code).  The Court of Appeals affirmed defendant's conviction, finding that Sec. 597 is a general intent crime and did not require a showing of specific intent to kill or harm the dog.

Park Management Corp v. In Defense of Animals An animal rights activist named Joseph Cuviello appealed the entry of a permanent injunction in a trespass action that prohibited him from demonstrating outside of Six Flags Discovery Kingdom ("The Park") in California. The superior court rejected Cuviello’s federal and state constitutional claims that he had a right to picket there peacefully and his common law defense based on a claimed prescriptive easement. The Park was originally municipally owned and privately operated until 2007 when the Park's management acquired the park from the City of Vallejo. After that acquisition, the Park began to limit free speech until it ultimately banned all expressive activity on the property. Cuviello was one of the many people that protested at the park advocating for animals and he had done so many times in the past. The Park filed a single cause of action for private trespass against several animal advocacy groups. Cuviello argued that he had a First Amendment right to protest there because the park had been dedicated to public use, the park was a public forum under state constitutional law, and given the amount of times he had protested at the park in the past, he had acquired a common law prescriptive easement right to protest there. The trial court denied Cuviello’s cross-motion for summary judgment and granted summary judgment for the Park. It ruled that the First Amendment does not apply to private property and that the property was not a public forum under California’s constitution. It also rejected the prescriptive easement claims. Although the Park was zoned as a public and quasi-public property, the Appeals Court grappled with whether to classify the Park as a private or public forum. The Court applied a balancing test which balanced society’s interest in free expression against the Park’s interests as a private property owner. The Court concluded that the unticketed, exterior portions of the Park was a public forum. Ultimately the Court held that the trial court erred in granting the Park’s summary judgment and in denying Cuviello’s cross-motion for summary judgment. Accordingly, the Court reversed the decision of the trial court and held that on the undisputed facts here, the Park may not ban expressive activity in the non-ticketed, exterior areas of Six Flags.

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