Desmond’s Law: Early Impressions of Connecticut’s Court Advocate Program for Animal Cruelty Cases
13 Pages Posted: 8 Apr 2021
Date Written: March 20, 2021
Connecticut enacted Desmond’s Law in 2016 to give animals a voice and to provide courts with tools to address animal cruelty. The law allows courts to appoint legal advocates to “represent the interests of justice” in cruelty cases involving dogs and cats. Connecticut was the first state to have a law of this kind and has been followed by a growing list of states introducing similar court advocate programs. As Director of the Animal Law Clinic at the University of Connecticut (UConn) School of Law, I have participated, as an Advocate or supervisor, in hundreds of hours of judicial proceedings under Desmond’s Law. This Commentary provides early insight into the use of a court advocate program for animal cruelty cases. This Commentary also shares accounts of and reflections on the use of Desmond’s Law in Connecticut and responds to criticisms of the law and similar court advocate programs.
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