California

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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.

Overview of California Great Ape Laws This is a short overview of California Great Ape law.
Ortega Administrative Hearing This is a trial brief for an administrative hearing to determine whether dog, "Rocky," was "vicious" or "dangerous." Rocky was normally a very friendly dog.
Nava v. McMillan


In a personal injury action brought by a pedestrian who was hit by an automobile when she stepped into a street, the trial court dismissed the complaint against occupiers of land who maintained fenced dogs, which plaintiff alleged frightened her, causing her to step into the street. The Court of Appeal affirmed. The court held that the complaint failed to set forth facts giving rise to tortious liability on the part of the owners of fenced dogs, either on the theory of simple negligence or strict liability.

Nahrstedt v. Lakeside Village Condominium Assoc.


Neighborhood Association had covenants against pets. Woman had two cats (against rules) and was charge large fines for having them. She challenged the validity of the rule, as well as the method of enforcement.

MICHAEL SEAGRAVE, plaintiff v. MICHAEL ATZET, and DOES 1-20 inclusive, defendant This California complaint arose from the shooting of plaintiff's golden retriever dog. Plaintiff's dog was secure in the backyard which was bordered by a fence. According to the complaint, defendant intentionally used a high-powered pellet rifle and shot the dog by positioning the rifle over or through the fence. This injury resulted in plaintiff's dog's death. The complaint raised three causes of action: (1) intentional infliction of emotional distress; (2) conversion; and (3) violation of California Civil Code of Procedure Section 3340 (related to damages to animals).

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