Pip and Lily Trial Held

Pip and Lily Case Tried In Clay County

pipandlily

The case of Pip and Lily, the two boxers on death row in Clay County, Florida, was tried Wednesday, July 28, 2010, before Judge Timothy Collins. I traveled to Green Cove Springs Wednesday to try the case with Marcy Lahart. You haven't heard from me via the site for a few days due to travel, trial preparation and trial.

Pip and Lily were to be destroyed after getting loose and biting a woman in the arm while she was holding a dog over her head to protect it from attack.

 There were some very serious problems with the procedure utilized by Clay County in declaring the dogs dangerous.  For those of you interested in the legal arguments, the memorandum of law I filed can be read here.

Our case really centered on the fact that the Clay County Ordinance was flawed, and the original hearing, held before the Fire Chief Mock did not meet due process.  At the "Mock" hearing, the county failed to introduce any witnesses or exhibits, and put the burden on Pip and Lily's owner to prove the dogs were not dangerous.  This procedure is fundamentally flawed, and does not give an owner any way to know the evidentiary basis upon which the county has seized, impounded and scheduled the dogs for destruction.  The judge was clearly troubled by this procedure, as evidenced by some of his questioning directed at the county attorney.

We also put on evidence from the owner of the boarding facility where the dogs have been held for three months that they have been model citizens, and expert testimony from a dog behaviorist, who testified that the dogs were not human aggressive. The bite was not directed at the person bitten but to the dog held above her head.  The expert further stated that the dogs were not "dangerous" and that there were less restrictive alternatives to destruction.  We also put on a witness from an adjoining county who was willing to take the dogs and keep them on his property as "dangerous dogs."  He testified he had had 15 boxers and had even had one trained for fighting, and was always able to rehabilitate them into companion animals.

The county argued that since there has been a hearing before a judge sixty days after seizure, that due process was met. Further, that the judge had no authority to do anything other than order destruction of the dogs.

This argument was countered by analogizing to forfeiture law, where instead of seizing property, the courts have instead required the less restrictive alternatives of a bond or entered a restraining order.

I thought that our case went as well as it could, and that Ms. Oliver and the dogs were well represented. 

The judge carefully listened to all the arguments and asked the county attorney some very pointed questions about the law and the Mock hearing.  He said he would review the law and write a detailed order shortly.

More on this as information becomes available. 

Dangerous Dog Law

Helping to defend our best friends. Dangerous Dog Law (DDL) focuses on the legal defense of allegedly dangerous dogs. DDL is a member of the Pit Bulletin Legal News Network.

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