PA 16-30—sHB 5344

Judiciary Committee


SUMMARY: This act allows judges to appoint volunteers, from a list of attorneys and law students provided by the agriculture commissioner, to advocate for the interests of justice in certain proceedings involving animals. (It is unclear, but presumably the act applies only to proceedings involving the welfare or custody of cats or dogs. ) Specifically, the court may appoint a separate advocate in (1) prosecutions for animal cruelty or fighting, (2) court proceedings stemming from an animal control officer's seizure of a cruelly treated or neglected animal, and (3) criminal cases involving the welfare or custody of cats or dogs.

Under the act, the court may appoint an advocate on its own initiative or when any party requests one. The act prohibits the appeal of a decision denying a request for an advocate.

The act requires the Department of Agriculture to maintain a list of (1) attorneys with knowledge of animal issues and the legal system and (2) law schools that have or anticipate having students interested in animal issues and the legal system. It authorizes these attorneys and law students to serve as advocates and requires law students doing so to be governed by the Connecticut Practice Book's legal intern provisions.

The act allows these advocates to do the following:

1. monitor the case;

2. consult individuals with information that could aid the judge or fact finder;

3. review records of the cat's or dog's condition and the defendant's actions, including records from animal control officers, veterinarians, and police officers;

4. attend hearings; and

5. present to the court information or recommendations related to the interests of justice, provided the information and recommendations are based solely on the advocate's duties under the act.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2016

OLR Tracking: AR; LH; vr: tjo