A grant from the Animal Legal Defense Fund will support the groundbreaking animal advocacy program in the courtrooms of the UConn Law School Animal Rights Clinic.
The grant will create new scholarships and training related to animal advocacy programs in courtrooms and expand efforts to establish similar programs in other states. It will also support research and programming, including the development of an animal care education program for offenders prosecuted in less serious cases of animal cruelty, and advocacy guides to serve as a resource. to lawyers.
Associate Dean Jessica Rubin founded the Animal Law Clinic in 2018 to train attorneys and law students to advocate for justice in animal abuse cases under Connecticut’s pioneering law, Desmond’s Law. The clinic also helped establish a similar animal advocacy program in Maine courtrooms.
“The generous grant from the Animal Legal Defense Fund will allow our clinic to continue to help the courts adjudicate animal cruelty cases and will strengthen our efforts to address the underlying causes of animal abuse through the education and training,” Rubin said. “We are grateful and proud to work with the Animal Legal Defense Fund, which is at the forefront of efforts to promote animal rights education programs.”
Clinic teacher Tara Cooley added, “It’s been wonderful to partner with the Animal Legal Defense Fund to expand our efforts. It’s an impactful partnership that combines the organization’s vast criminal justice network with the innovative work of UConn.
“Animal victims need representation in the criminal justice system, and animal advocacy programs in courtrooms uniquely position lawyers to speak specifically about animal interests,” Stephen said. Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “Animal victims are unique because they cannot testify to their treatment and are routinely living evidence, which many courts do not have the experience to deal with. The Animal Legal Defense Fund is delighted to formalize this partnership with the UConn School of Law, which has been at the forefront of implementing this important program.
As of August 1, 2022, the Animal Law Clinic has handled 93 animal cruelty cases in which dogs, cats, cows, rabbits and other animals were abused. Acting as advocates for justice under the direction of Rubin and Cooley, students at the clinic presented information about cruelty cases and relevant law to the courts and made recommendations on the outcome.
The work of student advocates has extended to reviewing police reports, body camera footage, veterinary records and applications for diversion programs. They have pleaded in court and participated in pre-trials and plea negotiations.
“The pioneering work of Dean Rubin and the Animal Law Clinic has provided a new way to approach animal abuse cases in our criminal justice system. It has also provided beneficial experiential opportunities for our students. We are deeply grateful for the assistance of the Animal Legal Defense Fund in continuing and expanding this important work,” said Dean Eboni S. Nelson.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund was founded in 1979 to protect life and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. The grant is the organization’s first at the clinic.