Animal Law

In December, Steven Wise, founder and president of the Nonhuman Rights Project, filed writs of habeas corpus on behalf of four chimpanzees he believed were wrongfully detained. Some scoffed at the idea — quips like “the law is going to the apes” or something about “appeals” and “banana peels” — but the facts were pretty bleak. One of the chimps, Tommy, is 26 years old and allegedly reduced to a life in “solitary confinement in a small, dank, cement cage in a cavernous dark shed” in upstate New York. Can you imagine more horrific conditions than upstate New York?

Seriously though, Tommy’s life sounds awful and a New York judge agreed. While admitting that he was unable to grant the order since, you know, the law doesn’t talk about chimps, Judge Joseph Sise conceded that Wise made a compelling argument. Yesterday, a five-member appellate panel heard Tommy’s case and depending on how they rule, they might just make a monkey out of Judge Sise. Is New York on the brink of a revolution in animal law?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Appeals Court Hears Chimpanzee Rights Case”

Here’s an interesting legal question that does not break down along Republican/Democrat or liberal/conservative lines: should animal abusers go to jail?

Okay, sure, unless you are a psychopath, you probably think that animal torturers should go to jail. But what about run-of-the-mill, “the dog was bothering me so I kicked it” people? Should the punishment for kicking a cat down a flight of stairs be just as severe as kicking a human down a flight of stairs? Should it be worse?

It’s a tough call, right? Personally, I think people who abuse animals are the scum of the Earth. Maybe one small step up from pedophiles, but right down there with child abusers and other violent criminals in terms of moral turpitude.

But in terms of legal punishment? Really, do we want to ruin people’s lives and contribute to the over-incarceration of our society by putting people in jail for kicking a cat? Where do you draw the line? The last time I had a mouse, I bought a “humane” electrocution trap that killed the sucker in two seconds before I dumped it in my trash. I don’t expect to arrested for publishing that information…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Dogs Go To Heaven, Animal Abusers Go To Jail”

In the most Canada news ever, a man has brought a class action suit against the Canadian government for its failure to control the moose population in Newfoundland and Labrador. An appeals court dismissed the claim, but personal injury lawyer Ches Crosbie vows to take his campaign all the way to the Canadian Supreme Court: “The case is unprecedented in many ways… It’s rife with live legal issues for a court of appeal.”

The theory of liability here is that the Canadian government introduced moose to Newfoundland island in 1904 as a source of food. Now their population is out of control, and motorists routinely slam into them and are injured by the large herbivores.

Let’s get this out of the way quickly… the solution is NOT to release an “apex predator” to control the moose population. A prime moose can generally not be messed with by any alpha predator. Top predators will eat some moose calves, but when you get out to check the damage the moose did to your car, the sound of timber wolves closing in around you is not something you are going to want to hear.

Oh, and for the Texans in the audience, shooting them hasn’t really been a successful answer either. Sorry Canada, you have a trophic cascade on your hands, and there is little that can be done about it….

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(c) Image by Juri H. Chinchilla.

One hundred years ago yesterday, Martha, the last passenger pigeon, died at the age of twenty-nine in the Cincinnati Zoo. This week, On Remand looks back at the fate of the passenger pigeon, the legal implications of efforts to resurrect the bird and other extinct species, and the courtroom drama over a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton.

Passenger pigeons once numbered in the billions and were the most abundant bird in the United States. Seventeenth century observers reported “countless numbers” of passenger pigeons whose massive flocks took hours to pass overhead. But by the early 1900s, no passenger pigeons remained in the wild.  Habitat loss due to deforestation and overhunting hastened the species’ rapid decline. (The sport of trapshooting originally used live passenger pigeons, but later adopted clay pigeons due to the decline and extinction of the bird.) Recognizing the plight of the passenger pigeon and humanity’s role in causing it, late 19th century conservationists and lawmakers made efforts to protect and repopulate the species. But it was too late…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nightmare At The Museum? The Resurrection of Extinct Species Is Coming”

If the monkey took it, it owns copyright, not me, that’s their basic argument. What they don’t realise is that it needs a court to decide that.

– David Slater, a British nature photographer embroiled in a conflict with Wikimedia over the copyright to photos taken by a female macaque monkey who stole Slater’s camera in 2011 and used it take a selfie. Tween girls, amiright? Anyway, Wikimedia considers the picture royalty-free because the author of the work is, in fact, a monkey, and until Caesar’s revolution she isn’t likely to look to enforce her right. Slater argues that he owns the copyright since it was his camera. As for the title, okay you caught me — the monkey didn’t put her selfie up on any dating sites, but did post to Instagram with the message “New camera! #fecesthrowing #blessed.”

Alec Baldwin was such a stud.

* “I don’t care if it’s legal, it’s wrong.” President Obama is pointing the finger at companies using cross-border mergers to avoid U.S. taxes, and he wants to put an end to corporate tax inversions. [Bloomberg]

* Thomas Christina of Ogletree Deakins is the lawyer behind the recent circuit split on Obamacare’s state versus federal health insurance subsidies. Blame him or praise him, it’s up to you. [WSJ Law Blog]

* “I think I missed being in the courtroom more than I missed politics.” John Edwards, acquitted in 2012, is making court appearances again, but this time as a lawyer, not as a defendant. [Am Law Daily]

* A lawyer from Georgia hunts alligators in his spare time, and keeps the taxidermied head of one he caught right on his desk. He says it’s “a great conversation piece,” but that’s a pretty nasty paperweight. Eww. [Daily Report via ABA Journal]

* In a face-off with Alec Baldwin, a judge asked the actor to apologize. The combative Baldwin said he’d rather pay a fine, but if he can “[b]e a good boy,” his biking charge will be dropped. [New York Daily News]

* Watchcat! [Legal Juice]

* On a similar note, New York banning “Tiger Selfies.” When do they give out the Darwin Awards again? [Lowering the Bar]

* Are there lessons to be learned from the lawyer who applied for — and got rejected from — a paralegal gig? [Law and More]

* Have you ever seen a standup comic playing music during a set? Well, they’re doing it to prevent others — clubs, networks, etc. — from lifting their work and selling it as their own. Welcome to the world of standups and copyright. [The Legal Geeks]

* You already heard our take. Now for someone who took some actual time to think about what Noel Canning means. [Federal Regulations Advisor]

* The sexiest law firm in the world? [The Careerist]

* The Supreme Court is less conservative than we think. Let’s have a poll! After reading this, do you think SCOTUS is less conservative than you expected? After the jump…. [Washington Post]

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Non-Sequiturs: 06.26.14″

‘Please remoooooove your hands from my udders!’

I wish I could take credit for the bill but I cannot.

– New Jersey Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R-Somerset), commenting on an intern’s suggestion to pass a bill to ban bestiality in light of a previous cow molestation case. The bill was unanimously approved.

When you have 100+ cats, your house is their litter box.

I knew I was in the middle of an epidemic.

Jan Van Dusen, an attorney accused of animal abuse whose home, where she kept more than one hundred feral cats, was raided by Animal Control officers. She admitted in court that her house “smelled like feces,” and also smelled like urine, “but not that much.”

(The U.S. Tax Court previously allowed Van Dusen to deduct a small amount for her cat care expenses — but not the $12,000 she initially requested.)

* Want to see a really terrible version of 12 Angry Men? Watch it in Louisiana or Oregon, the two states that allow criminal convictions even when jurors are holding out. The Supreme Court has an opportunity to fix that, let’s see if they will. [Constitutional Accountability Center]

* Speaking of 12 Angry Men, this chart of the Dungeons & Dragons alignments of each juror is entertaining. [Imgur]

* The judge in the Janice and Ira Schacter kerfuffle invoked Above the Law in her decision as proof that the accusations against Ira Schacter were in the public eye. Thanks for specifically promoting us over the rest of the NY media Justice Laura Drager! [NY Post]

* Watch a bunch of law students talk about cats on Facebook. Will it end in douchebag posturing and threats of lawsuits? Of course it will! [Legal Cheek]

* “Volunteer Liquor Commissioner” was disciplined for operating a Facebook page for people complaining about the police. He’s suing. Better question is what does a “Volunteer Liquor Commissioner” even do? [IT-Lex]

* Allegations that Disney ripped off the trailer for Frozen from an animated short. They should really let it go. [Hollywood Reporter]

* Chief Justice John Roberts says he’s a minimalist. He’s wrong. [Election Law Blog]

* Microsoft stopped supporting Windows XP. The IRS decided to keep going with the old product. So now your tax records are at risk. Enjoy the fruits of budgeting with anti-IRS legislators! [TaxProf Blog]

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