Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I Couldn't Cross Examine The Dog.

I always knew there were some things that they didn't teach me in Law School. However I didn't think it was the legal use of dogs. The New York Times has a fascinating article about the use of therapy dogs in courts. Therapy dogs are used to comfort troubled witnesses such as rape victims during testimony. The problem seems to be that some of these dogs are so cute..the jury is being swayed by them.

But they say jurors are likely to conclude that the dog is helping victims expose the truth. “Every time she stroked the dog,” Mr. Martin said in an interview, “it sent an unconscious message to the jury that she was under stress because she was telling the truth.”
“There was no way for me to cross-examine the dog,” Mr. Martin added.
In written arguments, the defense lawyers claimed it was “prosecutorial misconduct” for the Dutchess County assistant district attorney handling the rape case, Kristine Hawlk, to arrange for Rosie to be taken into the courtroom. Cute as the dog was, the defense said, Rosie’s presence “infected the trial with such unfairness” that it constituted a violation of their client’s constitutional rights.

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