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November 19, 2013

What message does six-month prison sentence in high-profile NJ animal cruelty case really send?

1467286_670148976359390_1970997383_nThe question in the title of this post is prompted by this lengthy local report about a high-profile New Jersey state sentencing, headlined "Brick couple sentenced to 6 months in jail for abusing dog, Sammy."  Here are excerpts:

The township couple that admitted to abusing a 17-year-old dog named Sammy was sentenced to six months in jail on Monday. Brick residents Keith Morgan, 56, and Shauna Ewing Morgan, 43, stood in silence next to each other and between their respective attorneys while the sentence was read. The sentence also included a $1,000 fine, $13,500 in restitution, 30 days community service and the couple is prohibited from future ownership of an animal.

“This is what we wanted, this is what was deserved and it was justified,” Monmouth County SPCA Chief Victor “Buddy” Amato said. “This judge did the right thing.” A packed courtroom erupted in cheers when Judge Robert LePore announced jail time for the couple.

“Unless these individuals are imprisoned for their depraved, cruel and heinous conduct, such acts of animal cruelty will continue worldwide,” LePore said. “The lack of care provided to Sammy was inexcusable.” LePore said the sentence he issued was to deter future animal cruelty. “This court believes that a message needs to be sent not just to these defendants, but to all of society that animal cruelty is a national and global problem and must be addressed and deterred,” LePore said.

The charges stem from a March incident when Keith Morgan brought the Cocker Spaniel to the Associated Humane Society in Tinton Falls, claiming he found Sammy in a garbage bag on the side of the road, Amato said. Keith Morgan gave an interview to a local television station after he turned the dog in, claiming he found the dog. That interview was played in court during the sentencing. However, officials said they later learned that the couple had owned the dog for at least nine years.

Sammy was then brought to the Red Bank Veterinary Hospital for treatment because he was malnourished and his fur was covered in urine and matted together in knots to the extent that the dog could not stand up, Amato said. He was released to a foster family in April. Days after Sammy was turned in, authorities learned through an anonymous tip that the Morgans had a second dog, named Ady, at their home. Amato said that because Ady had been groomed before they found her, authorities they were unable to determine if she was neglected. The 3-year-old Cocker Spaniel was voluntarily surrendered to the SPCA and eventually placed in a new home.

Before LePore issued the sentencing, both of the Morgans made a statement to the judge, apologizing. “I was in a bad time in my life. I was depressed … because my wife left,” Keith Morgan said. “I apologize, I didn’t mean for this to happen.” He and his attorney Kevin Sheehy told the judge that Shauna Morgan wasn’t at the home for several months before the incident because the two were separated. Keith Morgan had also been diagnosed with a kidney disease and at one point was suicidal, Sheehy said.

Shauna Morgan’s attorney, Marc Schram, told the judge the couple did not have any contact during their separation, and found the conditions at the home when she returned. “I should have foreseen that Sammy wouldn’t have been safe with my husband, but I didn’t know he was going to get so sick. … If I had foreseen it I would have taken Sammy with me,” she said through tears. “I’m sorry it turned out the way it did.”...

Attorney Steven Zabarsky prosecuted the case and he said he was happy with the outcome. “On behalf of the state, I’ve very satisfied,” Zarbarsky said.

Sammy’s case garnered international attention and a Facebook page was created in support of the dog. An online petition calling on prosecutors to ask for the maximum sentence for the Brick couple received nearly 33,000 signatures.

The Morgans were arraigned on May 20, with more than 250 people packing the Brick municipal courtroom to watch.  A line stretched out the door of the courthouse with supporters wearing t-shirts and holding signs demanding justice.  During a July 15 hearing, which also drew approximately 150 Sammy supporters, a Staten Island, N.Y. woman yelled out “Go kill yourself” and was escorted out of the courtroom.

Ultimately the Morgans reached a plea agreement on Aug. 19, and Amato called the outcome a “win.”  Keith Morgan pleaded guilty to one count of abuse of animal cruelty and filing a false report with law enforcement, while Shauna Ewing Morgan admitted to two counts of animal cruelty.

The eight-month case also stirred debates surrounding animal abuse. In May, N.J. 101.5 radio hosts Dennis Malloy, Judi Franco and Ray Rossi were under fire after they brought the case up on their respective shows. Social media posts claimed Malloy and Franco said animal rights activists needed to get their priorities straight, while Rossi allegedly said “untrue” and “hurtful” statements on air about one of the administrators of the Sammy the Cocker Spaniel Facebook page....

Capt. Richard Yocum, who is president of the state SPCA, said he was proud of Detective William Hyer and Deputy Chief Larry Donato, who investigated the case and of the ruling that was made.  “The stand that they [the court] have taken against animal cruelty being unacceptable tonight was admirable,” Yocum said.  “Sammy does have a loving home, he’s doing much, much better and he’s living out his life in a very good place.”

After the sentence, both of the Morgans’ attorneys said they would be filing an appeal Tuesday morning.  The judge granted a motion for a stay to allow the Morgans to remain free for the appeal process.

Because I am an animal lover and have been a passionate pet owner for my whole life, I can understand how many people can and will get very worked up about animal abuse. Still, I cannot help but wonder how much NJ taxpayer money was spent in this prosecution, and I especially wonder if many other abused animals might have been better served if those resources had instead been directed to an animal shelter or to a public service campaign.

Effective use of state resources aside, the message I take away from this sentencing story is the telling (and I think unfortunate) reality that many folks view incarceration as the only serious and meaningful punishment even when it seems likely that creative alternative punishments could possibly be more significant and effective. This kind of case, in which the defendants do not appear to present any real risk to public safety, seems to me to be the perfect setting for developing thoughtful shaming sanctions and lengthy (animal-servicing) community service as a punishment that could and should keep an on-going spotlight on the problems of animal cruelty and better enable other to better understand how to avoid hurting animals in the first instance.

November 19, 2013 at 09:23 AM | Permalink

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In addition to public shaming, I believe that corporal punishment can be a very cost effective punishement both for its deterrent and retributive effects.

Posted by: Jardinero1 | Nov 19, 2013 9:58:15 AM

A few possible reactions.

From libertarians: "It didn't hurt any other person, and what a citizen does with his own property in his own home is not the state's business. It's just a dog, people."

From liberals: "Quick! Have Sammy sign up for Obamacare! His pre-existing conditions are no longer a barrier. Plus he's under 26, so he's still on his parents' plan. All he has to do is go to the website and...........oh.............wait.............."

From the defense bar: "The Puritanicl thugs in the DA's Office have gone to the dogs, literally. With money as tight as it is, and the jails overcrowded, it's a travesty that anyone should be incarcerated for this so-called offense. Do we not have more pressing priorities? I mean, hello, we're worried about dogs when there are predatory drug dealers out there???...............Um, hold, on there, drug dealers are actually better seen as victims than criminals, now that I think of it. Did I tell you about our new rehab program...............?"

From normal people: "The Morgans got only six months for this nauseating crime against a helpless animal???"

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 19, 2013 9:59:34 AM

Bill, love your review of reactions, you should consider writing for SNL. I now want to hear your views as to what conservatives and/or Republicans would be saying in reaction to this case.

Also, I am curious what you think "normal people" would consider a fair and effective sentence for the Morgans.

Posted by: Doug B. | Nov 19, 2013 10:05:25 AM

Doug --

Thanks. I'd love writing for SNL. And it wouldn't be that hard. I could just recycle some of the juicier defense briefs I saw over the years.

From conservatives and Republicans: "I always knew liberals and Democrats shouldn't be allowed to own dogs."

From normal people looking for a fair sentence: Six months seems OK to me, but I admit that's subjective. If there had been affirmative abuse, like beatings and torture, I would go for a far stiffer sentence.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 19, 2013 10:24:18 AM

Federal Prosecutor perspective: Let us take the case. We can stretch the vague, overlapping criminal laws we lobby Congress to enact in order to threaten these people with all sorts of prison time. They will beg for 6 months in prison and we won't even have to bother with a trial.

Posted by: Thinkaboutit | Nov 19, 2013 11:31:50 AM

Thinking that in most areas, a simple neglect case would have resulted in probation with similar conditions on probation, maybe a weekend or two of shock time, with significant jail time only if they violated probation.

This sentence is almost certainly a product of the publicity given the case. Once the case became a media firestorm, a stiff sentence was almost inevitable to make the point that even misdemeanors can have serious consequences. While there may be other effective punishments to solve the problem in this case, lengthy incarceration is still the gold standard -- both in expressing public outrage and in deterring criminal activity.

Posted by: tmm | Nov 19, 2013 11:57:24 AM

Thinkaboutit --

You used to be better than that. A lot better. This case is about a pretty nasty episode of animal cruelty, about which you say zero. Instead, the only thing you can think to do is launch on federal prosecutors, who are not even remotely in this picture. Are you having a bad day?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 19, 2013 12:22:39 PM

I think that there are many holes in this story. That people get so emotional over this story is the real story in my mind. How does an abused and neglected animal get to be 17 years old?

Here is a list of the American Kennel Club's 20 most popular dog breeds from 2008 and their average life span, according to The World Atlas of Dog Breeds.

Labrador retriever -- 10 to 14 years
Yorkshire terrier -- 12 to 15 years
German Shepherd -- 10 to 14 years
Golden retriever -- 10 to 12 years
Beagles -- 12 to 14 years
Boxers -- 11 to 14 years
Dachshunds -- 12 to 14 years
Bulldogs -- 10 to 12 years
Poodles -- 10 to 15 years
Shih Tzu -- 11 to 15 years
Miniature Schnauzers -- 15 years or more
Chihuahuas -- 15 years or more
Pomeranians -- 13 to 15 years
Rottweilers -- 10 to 12 years
Pugs -- 12 to 15 years
German shorthaired pointers -- 12 to 15 years
Boston terriers -- about 15 years
Doberman Pinschers -- 10 to 12 years
Shetland Sheepdogs -- 12 to 14 years
Maltese -- 15 years or more

I had a cat that lived to 22 years and died of old age. We cared for it to the end. It looked like something that a cat would drag in at the end instead of a cat but suffered no pain. I can imagine that if a "normal" animal lover looked at it, we could of been accused of animal abuse. There is something that is not right in this story and the people could have been easily railroaded by the Justus system and chose to remain silent instead of making it worse for themselves! Please note the grandstanding by the judge, prosecutor and PETA types.

I think that the "guilty couple" instead should have demanded that their dog do what Police Wonder Dogs are capable of doing when they "alert" and made it testify on behalf of itself in court, if it had not already died. Like most dogs and some commenters here, it probably would have licked its private parts instead.

Posted by: albeed | Nov 19, 2013 1:06:11 PM

Prof B. stated: "...many folks view incarceration as the only serious and meaningful punishment even when it seems likely that creative alternative punishments could possibly be more significant and effective."

Nah, "creative alternative punishments" need to be saved for those who kill babies.

Prof B stated: "that could and should keep an on-going spotlight on the problems of animal cruelty and better enable other to better understand how to avoid hurting animals in the first instance."

This may be the biggest piece of mealy mouthed lawyerese I have ever seen. Even if we disregard that you imply no fault on the behalf of animal abusers (abuse is something they need to learn how to "avoid" like a car coming at them rather than something they actually do), is there any serious person who doubts that even adults buried low in the "below normal" IQ range "understand" how not to abuse an animal? Seriously?

Is this nonsense taught in law school? I never see such language in the real world.

Posted by: TarlsQtr1 | Nov 19, 2013 1:29:14 PM

Bill, what did this case have to do with libertarians and liberals? I think you introduced the irrelevant.

Posted by: Thinkaboutit | Nov 19, 2013 1:35:02 PM

Thinkaboutit --

When Doug expressly wonders about how people (presumably readers) will react to this case about a state charge of animal cruelty, it's perfectly within bounds to take a crack at answering, which is what I did (somewhat tongue in cheek, as Doug immediately recognized).

Your response is different -- angry and not even arguably related to the story at all. It's just an out-of-the-blue crack at federal prosecutors.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 19, 2013 2:01:18 PM

Bill, I am sorry I did not follow the commenting guidelines. As I saw it, you were capturing the views of liberal and libertarian readers and I was trying to capture the view of federal prosecutors reacting to the same story.

Posted by: Thinkaboutit | Nov 19, 2013 2:15:51 PM

albeed, as I understand the facts as alleged or admitted, the neglect of their dog was a recent thing and he was well-treated for most of his life. He said his diagnosis of a kidney disease was the trigger.

As for the original post. I can't agree that there should be no jail time in extreme cases. It sounds like he wanted to argue incapacitation (and possibly specific deterrence) are the only factors that could warrant jail time. I don't think general deterrence is a non-factor, though.

Posted by: Erik M | Nov 19, 2013 2:32:41 PM

Erik:

True animal abuse should be punished. I was just adding my insight into the post as facts are hard to get from most media articles in general.

I believe that the most interesting part of the article was the ongoing war between the radio personalities and the facebook posters. I do maintain that the comments from the Judge and County SPCA Chief were "grandstanding" to a most deplorable degree. The judge must be up for re-election.

Posted by: albeed | Nov 19, 2013 2:57:39 PM

I think a six-month sentence for animal abuse of this nature is warranted. If anything, it is quite lenient. Sure, can and should be spent on shelters and promoting adoption, but a large investment may be warranted if the deterrent effect could benefit many more animals.

I do wonder, though, whether there is any inconsistency in prosecuting some for animal abuse, while hunters are free to trap and kill terrified animals for sport. I don't know a whole lot about hunting, but I imagine that many animals are shot and spend as much as moments in agony and terror.

AO

Posted by: AnonymousOne | Nov 19, 2013 3:31:43 PM

TarlsQtr1 and Bill: What do you think are purposes well served by having taxpayers spend roughly $25,000 to incarcerate the Morgans? Do you think this a wise use of state resources?

Candidly, given that it seems so many "normal people" like you two and other folks in the local community seem so pleased that these defendants got maxed out jail terms for badly neglecting their old dogs, I suppose a lot is getting achieved for a relatively small sum. But I must say it makes me somewhat sad that so many people come to feel so good about depriving people of liberty.

And here is where I suppose I show my own (minority) libertarian-leaning (Lincoln-inspired? Bentham-inspired?) view within a nation supposedly "conceived in Liberty." I am always a bit saddened when Americans are being deprived of human liberty by their own government, and I always hope there is a real good reason for the deprivation of human freedom by government authorities. But lots of others, it seems, relish and feel good having the government deprive others of freedom if they think those persons deserve to be hurt in some way.

Posted by: Doug B. | Nov 19, 2013 3:55:05 PM

Apropos to your last paragraph, I have expressed the view that much discourse about "retribution" masks a baser, subconscious phenomenon--there are neuropsychological reasons why revenge feels so good, and that is why retribution--even if it serves no other purpose--is so fashionable.

Posted by: AnonymousOne | Nov 19, 2013 4:53:09 PM

Thinkaboutit --

"...I was trying to capture the view of federal prosecutors reacting to the same story."

If you were, which I seriously doubt, you badly misfired. I was a federal prosecutor for 18 years, and never heard of, much less participated in, any federal prosecution for animal neglect. I suppose it's happened, but if so, it's an extreme outlier, and not at all "the view of federal prosecutors reacting to the same story."

As best I can figure it out, you dislike federal prosecutors because some of them went after and convicted you at trial. But that has zero to do with this case. As Doug's most recent post shows, however, the libertarian (and to a lesser extent the liberal) view has a great deal to do with it.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 19, 2013 5:00:22 PM

Doug --

"What do you think are purposes well served by having taxpayers spend roughly $25,000 to incarcerate the Morgans?"

As tmm said, expressing public outrage and deterring this sort of activity. I also think the defendants should be charged whatever they can pay toward their incarceration -- either that or fined an equivalent amount.

"Do you think this a wise use of state resources?"

Personally, yes I do, but it's not really up to me to say. I don't pay taxes in that state. Do you have even an iota of evidence that a majority of said taxpayers do NOT regard it as a wise use of their resources?

"But I must say it makes me somewhat sad that so many people come to feel so good about depriving people of liberty."

There is a difference between "feeling good" and feeling satisfied that two cruel and indifferent people got a serious (more or less) message about their behavior (which I see they continue to try to blame on anything else).

"I am always a bit saddened when Americans are being deprived of human liberty by their own government, and I always hope there is a real good reason for the deprivation of human freedom by government authorities."

Again, I am satisfied -- neither happy or sad -- when people get a legal sentence in response to their knowing cruelty. As to the last part of your sentence, I couldn't agree more. Our basic disagreement is in the definition of "a real good reason."

Dogs think and feel, and their feelings are not unlike human feelings. Anyone who has ever had a dog knows that they feel loneliness, pain, hunger, fear and hope.

What these defendants did was disgusting. TarlsQtr1's "feelings" and mine have nothing to do with it.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 19, 2013 5:17:44 PM

You got me, Bill. My view of prosecutors is borne of my experience, just as yours is. It wasn't just that they won a conviction - anyone could do that against a Republican lobbyist in DC - it was their tactics, which I have learned is pretty standard stuff. The government in my case asked for 20-27 years after asking for the kingpin to get 3.5 years. Had the judge went along, you and other commenters would have said, "Well, he should have pleaded guilty." And, if the guidelines were mandatory, which you want, I would have been screwed completely.

Posted by: Thinkaboutit | Nov 19, 2013 6:57:54 PM

I agree with you Doug about the message this case sends but not in the way you think. These people got six months in jail for abusing a dog which is far more than what most people get who use dogs to abuse others. My state-like most states--still does not have an animal violence law. If someone's dog attacks a child and the child dies the most the person can be charged with is a misdemeanor. It is ridiculous. Every action of a domesticated animal should be directly imputed to its owner.

Here's what I think. I think that if Sammy was violent and had hurt a child these same animal lovers would be in public caterwauling about poor old Sammy, carrying on about the innocent dog, wringing their hands while a child bled to death. It's nonsense but there you have it.

Domesticated animals are more valuable than people. That is the message this case sends.

Posted by: Daniel | Nov 19, 2013 7:39:31 PM

What the Morgans did was wrong. But I wonder, would you city boys evaluate this case the same if it involved livestock?

What if it was a hog, cow or chicken? There's no humane society for livestock. Even injured animals end up at the livestock auction for sale. The Morgans could have taken the dog to the vet to be "put down." Or they could have taken it out and shot it themselves. Instead they concoct some hair brained story, take the dog to the pound and get caught. It just goes to show you that stupidity and neglect go hand-in-hand. 6 months in jail is pure punishment. The ban on future ownership of animals sends a loud message to others, to treat animals humanely or lose the right and meets the goal of ensuring the Morgans don't recidivate.

Posted by: ? | Nov 19, 2013 8:33:44 PM

Wow, Doug, did I even comment on the jail sentence? Where did you infer that I propose a maxed out sentence? I made a post that had two points. 1) If it were a child, there would be less outrage and an equal or better chance the people did no jail time; and 2) I condemned your mealy mouthed lawyer-speak that implies no blame on the offenders.

If you want to know my opinion, it is essentially apathy toward the two. Yes, I feel a crime was committed that should be punished. I would also concede that there could be creative sentencing that balances jail time and some other type of program. My problem (in general) with such programs, however, is that those proposing them unfailingly come at all of them with the attitude that the criminals were unable to "avoid" the crime (instead of committing it) or "did not understand" that abusing an animal is wrong. Instead of a mix of punishment and "education", it becomes a virtual free pass.

That is absurd and is not even close to justice.

PS-Once again, you have no idea what it is to be a libertarian. It does NOT mean that you should be able to commit a crime without any meaningful action from the state.

Posted by: TarlsQtr1 | Nov 19, 2013 9:17:51 PM

Doug:

I maintain that there is something missing from this story. I agree that 6 months, $14,500 in fines, 30 days of community service and never owning an animal again is "way over the top" for neglect of an animal, (potentially caused by human mental incapacitation). They had this dog for 9 years and their other dog of 3 years showed no signs of abuse. A dog of 17 years would look like hell to begin with. Nowhere did the article say that there was willful torture and abuse of the animal which would be a totally different set of circumstances. Let your automatic fish-feeder go on the fritz and your fish die. I would be afraid to see people insist that the defendents should also starve to death. I can see the Facebook page "Justice for Goldie".

I agree with ?. Our country has truly lost it's moral bearing. If most people even spent 1 week in jail, people would realize that 6 months is a pretty strong sentences to begin with for "neglect" of an animal.

Posted by: albeed | Nov 19, 2013 10:45:04 PM

Thinkaboutit --

"My view of prosecutors is borne of my experience..."

Your experience is far too limited to serve as a basis for what prosecutors generally would think or do. The sample size has to be a lot bigger than 1.

"It wasn't just that they won a conviction - anyone could do that against a Republican lobbyist in DC..."

It's a hostile environment for sure. That said, convictions depend on, more than anything else, evidence. I don't know what the evidence was in your case. Maybe it was such that you only could have been convicted here. Maybe it was such that you would have been convicted in Salt Lake City or Columbia, SC. I simply don't know, and I don't see how you could know either.

"The government in my case asked for 20-27 years after asking for the kingpin to get 3.5 years. Had the judge went along, you and other commenters would have said, 'Well, he should have pleaded guilty.'"

My advice in these matters tends to be consistent: If in fact you are not guilty, you should plead not guilty. If in fact you are guilty, you should plead guilty. I don't believe there is a single episode in my professional life in which I advised anyone I was working for to do other than tell the truth. Lying, and advising people to lie, is unprofessional, unethical and immoral.

If in fact you didn't do it, then you did the right thing by pleading not guilty and I congratulate you for it.

"And, if the guidelines were mandatory, which you want, I would have been screwed completely."

Not necessarily. In the last year the Guidelines were mandatory, 40% of the cases got downward departures. You would have been a much better candidate for one than a whole bunch of people I saw get it.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 19, 2013 11:22:05 PM

albeed --

"I think that the "guilty couple" instead should have demanded that their dog do what Police Wonder Dogs are capable of doing when they "alert" and made it testify on behalf of itself in court, if it had not already died. Like most dogs and some commenters here, it probably would have licked its private parts instead."

Would you please specifically name the commenters here who have "licked their private parts" and tell us how you know this.

Thanks.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 20, 2013 5:48:55 AM

Bill:

When you respond to my answer to you on a previous post that YOU specifically requested and then ignored, I may respond to your above inquiry. Rest assured that it is probably not you.

Like many in the Justice profession know and utilize, a little outlandish hyperbole is sometimes necessary to get attention, whether appropriate or not. It is not the logic, reason or rationale which is often most important, but what sticks with you and you remember.

Posted by: albeed | Nov 20, 2013 8:43:54 AM

albeed --

I'll try to remember your happy approval of "a little outlandish hyperbole" the next time I'm accused of it. I'll refer the accuser to you as my defender.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 20, 2013 9:33:16 AM

? Unlike some of the regular posters, I did work in a rural county. Most of our animal abuse cases (about 2-3 per year) did involve the humane society coming out to inspect horses and livestock that were starving to death.

As I noted in my earlier response, typical for these neglect cases was probation along with maybe a weekend of shock time, a small fine, and a condition that they get out of the business of raising livestock. The substantial punishment for the Morgans is more likely than not the product of the media attention forcing the judge and the prosecutor to feel a need to use the Morgans to make a point.

Posted by: tmm | Nov 20, 2013 11:08:34 AM

Bill:

One more bit of "hyperbole".

If someone in a law enforcement uniform (or plain clothes) showed up at the defendent's home, warrant or no warrant, he could shoot and wound and/or kill the dog and get a free pass from the Justus system by simply claiming he felt "threatened".

Oh wait, this actually happens so much it is not even newsworthy!

Posted by: albeed | Nov 20, 2013 11:16:52 AM

albeed,

So your position is that a LE officer or private citizen should have to be mauled by an angry Rotty because some will take advantage of the premise of self-defense?

Does such empty-headed thinking extend to defending yourself or your family from other people as well? I could just as easily shoot my neighbor when she brings over a Christmas card and say I felt "threatened."

Your trade has always been in logical fallacies by I seldom see a better example of a "perfectionist fallacy."

Posted by: TarlsQtr1 | Nov 20, 2013 11:27:00 AM

Wow, TrlrsQr1, I misunderstood your first comment and I did not realize that when you mentioned "those who kill babies" you were trying to make the point that "if it were a child, there would be less outrage and an equal or better chance the people did no jailtime." I share your view that far too many folks care far more about a poor person's dog than about a poor person's child, and so I we are in agreement in our concern about what a case like this reveals about American values.

It also seems, from your fuller explanation, that we share the view that "creative sentencing that balances jail time and some other type of program" could be a more effective punishment than a maxed out jail term here. I also share your worry about creative punishments that are "a virtual free pass," which is why I tend to be a particular fan of significant shaming (as well as economic) sanctions, which are not easily forgotten.

As for my "mealy mouthed lawyer-speak that implies no blame on the offenders," I am eager to blame/punish those who intentionally and maliciously or even recklessly harm others (including animals), but I am not sure if the facts bear this out. What seems truly blameworthy --- and seem to be REALLY driving this case --- involves the attempted cover-up more than the crime. The owner's (humane?) effort to finally get the dog some help by lying about his actions obviously got the community all worked up, and I understand the eagerness to slam a liar like this. (As our friend Bill knows, a similar cover-up got Scooter Libby sentences to years in federal prison until GWB stepped in.)

Please realize that I never asserted that these defendants were not blameworthy or should not be punishment. It was the max imprisonment term that prompted this post and my commentary. And I due this a true libertarian should want to use incarceration as a last resort rather than a first-resort punishment.

As for what "it is to be a libertarian," I hope you will write something up for me --- perhaps for posting for all to see --- explaining your view of how a libertarian approaches criminal justice systems generally and use of incarceration as a punishment. in particular.

Posted by: Doug B. | Nov 20, 2013 11:31:31 AM

Bill:

With special friends like TQ and ADMKS, who needs enemies.

I read TQs response on Doug's post regarding special incarceration stations for veterans and was too sick to respond. I also find his reasoning too disjointed to know where to begin so I just ignore him.

Posted by: albeed | Nov 20, 2013 11:55:58 AM

Prof B stated: "Wow, TrlrsQr1, I misunderstood your first comment and I did not realize that when you mentioned "those who kill babies" you were trying to make the point that "if it were a child, there would be less outrage and an equal or better chance the people did no jailtime.""

Thank you.

You stated: "It also seems, from your fuller explanation, that we share the view that "creative sentencing that balances jail time and some other type of program" could be a more effective punishment than a maxed out jail term here."

And again.

You stated: "As for my "mealy mouthed lawyer-speak that implies no blame on the offenders," I am eager to blame/punish those who intentionally and maliciously or even recklessly harm others (including animals), but I am not sure if the facts bear this out."

The facts of this case are irrelevant. Your statement was not about this specific case but cases "like this" where the public was not at risk. It is not a big deal really, but your words do (in my opinion) undermine your position that you want meaningful punishment. I think you know this, which is why you do not even try to defend (or even address) the use of the passive "avoid hurting animals" rather than the active and more accurate "abuse an animal." Same with "understanding" how not to abuse animals. I have worked with thousands of people in my life and I cannot think of one who did not "understand" that a malnourished dog unable stand is in pain. It is not an issue of avoidance or understanding, it is an issue of conscience.

You stated: "As for what "it is to be a libertarian," I hope you will write something up for me --- perhaps for posting for all to see --- explaining your view of how a libertarian approaches criminal justice systems generally and use of incarceration as a punishment. in particular."

LOL I know that you will find my response as empty as I found your request but, no, I will not be writing a book (which is what it would take) on the modern libertarian view of the criminal justice system, which would then have to be compared to the historical (Founding Father) libertarian view. I will stick to the single point I made. Your sentencing opinions are almost exclusively that punishment should be minimized, a bastardization of the modern libertarian view and MUCH different than the historical libertarian view. From my perspective, it appears much closer to a thinly veiled attempt to outflank the right than a sincerely held ideology.

Posted by: TarlsQtr1 | Nov 20, 2013 12:08:18 PM

God created Dog on the 8th Day and put him and her on Earth to take care of humans and give guidance. It is a sin to abuse a dog. Dog abusers do not get into heaven, do not get a reincarnation and they are the largest population category in Hell. These schmucks have not yet gotten their full measure of justice.

Posted by: Liberty1st | Nov 21, 2013 5:49:26 PM

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