“Court Case Friday”
Child and Animal Victims
My most difficult court cases emotionally are ones in which the victims are children or animals. I avoid these cases like a plague. My feelings vacillate between extreme rage toward the defendant and devastating sorrow for the helpless victims. I also inform attorneys, semi-jokingly, that there is a Golden Retriever and Bulldog sentencing enhancement in my court.
Dogs and Race Horses Don’t Mix
As a young D.A. I filed a case of a man who offered to take his neighbor’s German Shepherd for a walk. The dog owner gladly agreed so that the dog could get some exercise.
Unfortunately, the man walked the dog to the nearby horse stables at the Alamitos Race Track.
When a horse trainer saw the dog in the stable area, he got irate, and exclaimed: “Get that dog out of here! We can’t have a dog scaring these valuable race horses!” The defendant left with the dog.
Later, the defendant returned with the dog. The trainer confronted him again, yelling: “Get rid of that dog! If you don’t, I will.”
The defendant reached over, picked up a hammer, and beat the dog to death. He lifted the lifeless body and threw it in a trash can, and screamed, “Are you happy now!” He then marched away.
The defendant was arrested for felony animal cruelty.
We later learned that the defendant was under the influence of LSD at the time.
I felt so sorry for the dog and the owner! Can you imagine?
Post Script: “Under the Influence” Ancient Roman Law and Now
Under ancient Roman law, for a person to commit a crime under the influence of alcohol or drugs was an aggravating circumstance. It increased the punishment. The Romans considered being “under the influence” as “voluntary insanity.” I have always thought that was a good description. In modern times, committing a crime while under the influence is often considered mitigating, and it reduces the punishment. Maybe the Romans were right.