Chair: Meena Alagappan
Chair-Elect: Joan Schaffner
At the 2009 ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago, the Animal Law Committee was awarded the TIPS award for “Overall Excellence.” This was the fifth straight award for ALC in so many years. The Committee held its third annual awards reception sponsored by Safe Humane Chicago, Best Friends Animal Society, and Animal Farm Foundation. The ALC “Excellence in the Advancement of Animal Law” award recipient was Joyce Tischler, co-founder and General Counsel of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the first national non-profit legal organization focused on issues related to animals. In addition, the ALC recognized Professor Rebecca Huss for her groundbreaking work as the legal guardian for the dogs rescued from Michael Vick’s dog fighting enterprise.
Thanks to Chair Ledy Van Kavage and her committee, the ALC held a regional conference at DePaul University in Chicago on September 19, 2008 entitled “Prosecuting and Representing Animal Abusers and Caring for the Victims – the Michael Vick Case and Its Impact on Cruelty Cases.” The conference discussed the case and its impact on future cruelty cases. Presenters were from ALC, Trial Techniques Committee, the ABA Criminal Law Section, and the National Canine Research Council. Sponsors included Valparaiso University School of Law, Animal Farm Foundation, National Canine Research Council, Best Friends Animal Society, Animal Welfare Institute, PetSmart Charities, and DePaul University School of Law.
On July 31, 2009, at the ABA/TIPS Annual Meeting in Chicago, the Committee held a CLE moot court program entitled “The Supreme Court and the Ownership of Life: An Oral Argument”, co-sponsored with the TIPS Intellectual Property, Government Law and Appellate Advocacy Committees, along with the Judicial Division’s Council of Appellate Lawyers, the Litigation Sections’s Appellate Practice Committee, and the Special Committee on Bioethics and the Law. The program explored what would happen should the issue of patenting sentient life forms reach the United States Supreme Court.
Chairs for the event were Dan Polsenberg, Chair of the TIPS Appellate Advocacy Committee, Former Committee Chair Mariani and Committee Chair-Elect Designee Mariann Sullivan. The four distinguished judges were the Honorable Ming W. Chin, Supreme Court of California, the Honorable James Hardesty, Chief Judge Supreme Court of Nevada, the Honorable Ellen F. Rosenblum, Oregon Court of Appeals and the Honorable Barbara Rothstein, Director Federal Judicial Center. Andrew Pincus of Mayer Brown argued for the petitioner and Arthur England of Greenberg Traurig, LLP for the respondent. Daniel Polsenberg moderated a panel of experts that included Nina Mak, American Anti-Vivisection Society and Professor Margaret Foster Riley, University of Virginia School of Law.
Public Interest Conference
ALC former Chair Gilda Mariani coordinated a day-long public interest program on May 18, 2009, co-sponsored with the Diversity in the Profession Committee and Stetson University College of Law in Florida entitled “Equal Access to Justice for the Elderly and Persons with Disabilities.” The conference focused on providing witnesses, jurors, and attorneys who have a disability or are elderly (including those who have service or emotional support animals) with equal access to justice in the courtroom. It was simultaneously webcasted and was made available for viewing on the Stetson University website.
The Committee presented Model Legislation developed by David Favre and his Legislative subcommittee on the Recovery for Harm to Companion Animals to the TIPS Council which, in turn, submitted the Model Bill to NCCUSL.
The TIPS Council approved submission of the Committee’s Holding Period recommendations to the House of Delegates. The recommendation calls for states and territories to adopt a statute to establish guidelines for animal shelters and mandatory minimum hold periods for companion animals following disasters.
Public Service Activities
Through the efforts of Chair Meena Alagappan, the Committee began implementation of the Humane Education Project as a joint public service project of the Animal Law and Law in Public Service Committees and Humane Education Advocates Reaching Teachers (HEART), a non-profit public charity. Interested ABA member volunteers are trained by HEART instructors to offer a four-lesson humane education program for 4th and 5th graders designed to cultivate compassion and empathy in our youth toward animals and increased respect for the environment. The pilot project was first implemented in Washington, DC and New York City and the “ABA Humane Education Training Manual” was used.
Barbara Gislason continued to act as Director of the ABA/TIPS Animal Disaster Relief Network and was appointed the TIPS liaison to both the ABA Special Committee on Disaster Response and Preparedness as well as the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws.
Publications and Technology
ALC’s second and third books were published by the Committee. “Litigating Animal Law Disputes: A Complete Guide for Lawyers” is a comprehensive and valuable resource edited by Joan Schaffner and Julie Fershtman. “A Lawyer’s Guide to Dangerous Dog Issues,” edited by Joan Schaffner, provides progressive approaches to better address the concerns that have arisen with reckless owners and their dogs, and provides strategies for prosecuting and defending dangerous dog cases.
Former Chair Mariani, on behalf of the Animal Law and Government Law Committees received a second Enterprise Fund grant of $14,700 to produce six podcasts as part of an internet radio program pilot for TIPS called “Legal TIPS.” These six podcasts were also completed, having been recorded at the mid-year meeting in Boston by Legal Talk Network. Former ALC Chairs Barbara Gislason and Gilda Mariani co-hosted the first podcast entitled A Look Inside TIPS Diversity Initiatives with TIPS Chair Timothy Bouch and an interview of Peter Neeson, dean of the Leadership Academy.
Gislason hosted an additional two podcasts: When the Storms Surge: Insurance Claims – an interview with Leo Jordon, Chair of TIPS Task Force on Disaster Insurance Coverage and Lawyers at the Ready in Disasters – an interview with Richard E. Friedman, President and Chair of the National Strategy Forum and Melisa Rubin, Vice President of Field and Emergency Services of the United States and Humane Society of the U.S.
Mariani hosted the remaining three podcasts: When A Dog Enters the Courthouse – a discussion with senior deputy prosecutor Ellen O’Neill-Stephens, founder of the Courthouse Dog Program and Deborah Starr, a psychologist with DecisionQuest; Technology in the Courtroom – a dialogue with Professor Rebecca Morgan, Director pf the Center for Excellence in Elder Law at Stetson University College of Law and John Christopher, a multi-media presentation consultant at DecisionQuest; and ABA/TIPS Promotes Judicial Independence – a talk with Peter Bennett and Dick Semerdjian.
These podcasts aired weekly from February 26 through April 2, 2009.
Later in the year, former Chair Mariani obtained another $1,350 from the Enterprise Fund Board for the re-publication of three of the Insights podcasts. Additions included remarks from TIPS leaders TIPS Chair John Tarpley, TIPS Chair-Elect Ginger Busby and TIPS Vice Chair Randy Aliment. The recordings were completed by July 7, 2009 and they were posted on the TIPS website.
Vice Chairs Adam Karp and Julie Fershtman submitted the annual ALC update in animal law to the Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Law Journal. Joan Schaffner and Meena Alagappan co-authored a Committee profile that was published in the February 2009 issue of TIPS The Brief magazine.
Three issues of the ALC newsletter were published by Editor Joan Schaffner.
Meetings and Committee Structure
Chair Meena Alagappan spearheaded an effort to reorganize and consolidate the substantive subcommittees resulting in twelve current and active subcommittees: Agriculture, Companion Animals, Disaster Relief, Equine Law, Great Apes, Humane Education, Insurance Issues, International Issues, Legislation, Litigation, Science & Technology, and Wildlife.
An Annual Meeting of the ALC leadership was held at the ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago in August. Current and future plans were discussed in detail. The Committee has secured Vice Chairs interested in active leadership for the next 5 years; created the ALC Discussion Board, and sent several e-mail messages to its members via the TIPS ALC list-serve.
All new members were sent a welcome letter from the Chair and Chair-Elect with sign up forms for subcommittees. Subcommittee Chairs were notified of member interest as a follow-up. The Committee continued to distribute the ALC brochure at various conferences.
A significant recruitment effort was made by Akisha Townsend, ALC’s Law Student Vice Chair, with the student lawyer members of the Animal Legal Defense Fund and an ALC student membership program was initiated to partner each student member with a professional ALC member. ALC advertised to its student members the TIPS Student Writing Competition.
McDermott spearheaded an effort to reach interested ABA members in other allied Sections. A letter was sent to 4,000 ABA members in these Sections/Committees: Science & Technology: Animal Research, Biotechnology, and Public Health, Environment; Intellectual Property: Patents; Family Law: Custody, Domestic Violence, Marital Property; Environmental: Agricultural Management, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Environmental Enforcement, Environmental Justice, Forest Resources, Marine Resources, Public Land and Resources, Environmental Impact Assessment; Litigation: Environmental Litigation, Consumer & Personal Rights Litigation, Family Law Litigation; Individual Rights: Public Education. Linda Wiley of the ABA staff handled the implementation via e-mail with enrollment forms included.
Membership at the end of the Committee year (August) stood at 338 with two drops.