Connecticut

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Titlesort descending Summary
State v. Acker Defendant, the director of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Connecticut, Inc., was charged with 63 counts of animal cruelty for failing to give animals “proper care by exposing [them] to conditions that placed [them] at risk of hypothermia, dehydration, or to conditions injurious to [their] well-being....” Defendant was the director of a nonprofit animal rescue organization and housed rescued dogs in an uninsulated outdoor barn heated solely by space heaters. After a trial, Defendant was convicted of 15 counts and acquitted of the remaining 48 counts of animal cruelty. On appeal, the defendant claimed that (1) there was insufficient evidence to support the conviction and (2)C.G.S.A. § 53-247(a) was unconstitutionally vague as applied to the facts of this case. The appellate court rejected defendant’s claims and affirmed the trial court’s decision.
State v. Ancona


Defendant Michael Ancona appealed his conviction of permitting a dog to roam at large in violation of General Statutes § 22-364(a). The defendant claims that (1) the court improperly held him responsible as a keeper of a dog when the owner was present and known to the authorities, and (2) the state adduced insufficient evidence to sustain his conviction. The plain language of the statute § 22-364(a) states that an “owner or keeper” is prohibited from allowing a dog to roam on a public highway. Either the owner or keeper or both can be held liable for a violation of the statute. The court also found sufficient evidence that defendant was the keeper of the pit bull: the dog stayed at his house, he initially responded to the incident and tried to pull the dog away, and defendant yelled at the Officer Rogers that she was not to take "his dog."

State v. Bonilla


The issue before the court in this case is whether defendant's felony conviction for being a spectator at a cockfight (contrary to General Statutes § 53–247(c)) violates defendant's constitutional rights to assemble and associate, and his equal protection rights. In rejecting defendant's arguments, the court noted first that the right to assemble does not encompass the right to assemble for an unlawful purpose. Further, the right to associate was not infringed because "[a]ttending a cockfight as a spectator is neither a form of 'intimate association' nor a form of 'expressive association' as recognized by our courts or the United States Supreme Court . . ." As to defendant's claim of violation of equal protection, the court found that the aim of § 53–247(c)(4), criminalizing being a spectator at a cockfighting event, is rationally related to the legislative goal of preventing such fights from being staged.

State v. DeFrancesco


After the USDA went to the defendant’s house to perform a prelicense inspection for an Animal Welfare Act permit for a rabbit, the USDA discovered the defendant also kept a Bengal cat, a Jungle cat and a Bobcat on the premises; the USDA then notified the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) about the three cats. After the defendant’s attempt to sell the three cats, the DEP confiscated them and placed them in the care of an expert; the DEP also charged the defendant with three misdemeanor violations of General Statutes section 26-40a. After trial and appellate court determinations, the Connecticut Supreme Court found the three cats to be included on the list of prohibited felidae in General Statutes section 26-40a and found General Statutes section 26-40a did not violate Due Process.

State v. DeMarco


Defendant appeals his conviction of two counts of cruelty to animals—specifically, cruelty to several dogs found within his home. Evidence supporting the conviction came from a warrantless entry into defendant's home after police found it necessary to do a "welfare check" based on an overflowing mailbox, 10-day notices on the door, and a "horrible odor" emanating from the home. In reversing the convictions, the appellate court determined that the facts did not suggest that defendant or the dogs were in

immediate

danger supporting the emergency exception to the warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment.

State v. Devon D. The defendant, Devon D., appeals from the judgments of conviction, rendered after a jury trial, of eleven offenses, in three separate files with three different docket numbers, pursuant to three separate informations, involving three different victims. Devon asserted that the prosecution as to the charges concerning C1 should have been separated from the charges as to C2 and C3, and that the evidence from C1’s case should not have been cross-admissible as to C2 and C3, an argument the Connecticut Appellate Court accepted as justifying reversal. Devon also argued on appeal that “the court improperly permitted the state to have a dog sit near C1 while she testified to provide comfort and support to her.” The appellate court concluded that the trial court had abused its discretion in permitting the use of the dog to comfort and emotionally support C1 while she testified without requiring the state to prove that this special procedure was necessary for this witness. At trial, defense counsel specifically told the trial court he was not making a confrontation clause claim as to the presence of the dog, and the appellate court therefore considered such a claim waived. Despite the absence of statutory authority for permitting a facility dog, the appellate court did conclude that the trial court had “inherent general discretionary authority” to permit such a dog, but also determined that this discretion was abused under the facts of the case. The judgments are reversed and the cases are remanded for new trials.
State v. Hearl Defendant Hearl was convicted of nineteen counts of animal cruelty by jury. The convictions stem from the care of his goat herd used for his goat cheese manufacturing business in Connecticut in 2014. Defendant and his business partner moved a herd from Massachusetts to Cornall, CT in May of 2014, where they rented an open air barn space (mainly used for dairy cows), but did not negotiate any boarding or care of the goats. Another farmer (Betti) rented the other half of the barn space for his dairy cows. Betti became concerned about defendant's goat herd in Fall 2014. As the condition of the goats deteriorated (to the point of death for some of the goats), Betti informed the state Dept. of Agriculture and this spurred the investigation which culminated in the seizure of defendant's remaining living goats in January 2015. On appeal of his conviction, defendant raises four main arguments: (1) the evidence adduced at trial was insufficient to sustain his conviction, (2) the trial court did not provide the jury with a proper instruction on the required mental state; (3) § 53–247 (a) is unconstitutionally vague as applied to his conduct; and (4) his conviction and sentencing on nineteen separate counts of animal cruelty violates the constitutional prohibitions against double jeopardy. As to defendant's first insufficiency of the evidence claim, defendant's argument centered on whether he had charge or custody of the goats necessary to impute responsibility to him. The court found that there was ample evidence before the jury to support the finding that the defendant confined, or had charge or custody of, the goats. Not only did the defendant play an active role in the management of the goats according to testimony, but.in converstations with officers, defendant “took the lead on telling me what was being done with the management of the goats” and that he “predominated the conversation” about the mortality rates in the herd. In fact, the court found compelling evidence of defendant's custody role where since he had authority to order the euthanization of the animals. Defendant's attempts to characterize his role as mere "ownership," with no role in the particulars of confinement, were unpersuasive. Ownership itself "can still be probative evidence that the defendant bore the responsibility of caring for the goats and authorizing their confinement." Equally unpersuasive was defendant's claim that his business partner was the was who alone confined the 20 plus goats in the open air barn. However, the court noted that there is "no authority limits liability under the statute to a single actor when the facts demonstrate that more than one person may have confined the goats or had charge or custody of them." The jury reasonably could have concluded that the defendant, having confined, or having charge or custody of, the goats, failed to give the goats proper care or food, water, and shelter. On defendant's second claim, the court concluded that the mens rea required for a conviction under the relevant portion of § 53–247 (a) is general intent and that the trial court did not err by declining to instruct the jury on criminal negligence. Defendant's third argument - that § 53–247 (a), was unconstitutionally vague - was also dispensed by the court. Even if the terms "charge" or "custody" are susceptible to some degree of interpretation, the record here shows that defendant had definite notice that his conduct violated the law. Further, the evidence at trial showed that he had notice from the state on things like heat lamps and shelter from the wind and failed to protect the animals by acting on those instructions. Finally, the court considered defendant's final double jeopardy argument and whether the legislature intended to authorize multiple convictions for cruelty for each goat or one conviction for the cruel treatment of the nineteen goats under § 53–247 (a). In looking at previous versions of the anti-cruelty law and other laws within the chapter, the court found that defendant's separate abuse and maltreatment of each goat supports the nineteen separate counts filed by the prosecutor. The judgment was affirmed.
State v. Josephs In this Connecticut case, defendant, Delano Josephs appeals his judgment of conviction of a single violation of § 53–247(a). The incident stems from Defendant's shooting of his neighbor's cat with a BB gun. A witness heard the discharge of the BB gun, then saw a man he recognized as defendant walking with a BB gun in his hands in a "stalking" manner. Over a week later, defendant's neighbor noticed blood on her cat's shoulder and brought her cat to the veterinarian who found three or four metal objects that resembled BBs near the cat's spine. After receiving this diagnosis, the cat's owner reported to police that her neighbor was "shooting her cats." Animal control officers then interviewed defendant who admitted he has a BB gun and shoots at cats to scare them away, but "he had no means of hurting any cats." At the trial level, defendant raised the argument that § 53–247(a) requires specific intent to harm an animal. The trial court disagreed, finding the statute requires only a general intent to engage in the conduct. On appeal, defendant argues that since he was convicted under the "unjustifiably injures" portion of § 53–247(a), the trial court applied the wrong mens rea for the crime. In reviewing the statute, this court observed that the use of the term "unjustifiably" by the legislature is meant to distinguish that section from the section that says "intentionally." Thus, the legislature use of two different terms within the same subsection convinced the court that clause under which defendant was convicted is only a general intent crime. On defendant's void for vagueness challenge, the court found that this unpreserved error did not deprive him of a fair trial. A person of ordinary intelligence would understand that shooting a cat for trespassing is not a justifiable act. While the court agreed with defendant that "unjustifiably injures" is susceptible to other interpretations, in the instant case, defendant conduct in killing a companion animal is not permitted under this or other related laws. The judgment was affirmed.
State v. Smith



A defendant was charged and convicted of one count of permitting a dog to roam at large. Upon appeal, the defendant argued the statute he was convicted under was unconstitutionally vague and that he was convicted under insufficient evidence. Defendant contended that simply having his dog off-leash did not mean that it was roaming at large and not under his control where the dog responded to verbal commands. The court rejected both of defendant's arguments, finding that the plain language of the statute clearly prohibits an owner allowing a dog to move freely on another's property unrestrained and not under the owner's direct influence.

Town of Bethlehem v. Acker Plaintiffs seized approximately 65 dogs from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Connecticut pursuant to a search and seizure warrant that had been issued on facts showing that the dogs, which were being kept in an uninsulated barn with an average temperature of 30 degrees Fahrenheit, were neglected, in violation of General Statutes § 22–329a. The trial court found that the smaller breed dogs were neglected, but found that larger breed dogs were not. On an appeal by plaintiffs and a cross appeal by defendants, the appeals court found: (1) the trial court applied the correct legal standards and properly determined that the smaller breed dogs were neglected and that the larger breed dogs were not neglected, even though all dogs were kept in a barn with an average temperature of 30 degrees Fahrenheit; (2) § 22–329a was not unconstitutionally vague because a person of ordinary intelligence would know that keeping smaller breed dogs in an uninsulated space with an interior temperature of approximately 30 degrees Fahrenheit would constitute neglect; (3) the trial court did not err in declining to admit the rebuttal testimony offered by the defendants; and (4) the trial court did not err in granting the plaintiffs' request for injunctive relief and properly transferred ownership of the smaller breed dogs to the town. The appellate court, however, reversed the judgment of the trial court only with respect to its dispositional order, which directed the parties to determine among themselves which dogs were smaller breed dogs and which dogs were larger breed dogs, and remanded the case for further proceedings, consistent with this opinion.

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