Regional Attorneys;CA AB 242+ Opposition

It has been mentioned that if regional counsel was to be used for proposed Anti-Pet laws at least to review the “wording” and terms used, it would give everyone an idea of how to structure the defense and opposition.  If there were only 4 regions (Eastern Western Northern Southern) and boundaries were applied, we would have an idea of how many attorneys were needed for those regions.  This is not to interfere with federations already set up, but just to have counsel that might want to be involved.

We already help if people ask, and are working with Petpac and We the People USA. However, we do not have local counsel in areas outside of California.  So if you can gather or recommend a few attorneys that are interested, it would be better than guessing at certain provisions and what effects they would have.  Most attorneys that have an interest in animal law are all animal rights.  We will not knowingly work with animal rights attorneys. You can email us.

 We are especially interested in counsel from Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Florida or Illinois.

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Analysis Prepared by :    Geoff Long / APPR. / (916) 319-2081

CA AB242, sponsored law by HSUS, wants to make :

Increases the penalty, from a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 
          six months in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000, to a 
          wobbler, punishable by up to 1 year in county jail and/or a fine 
          of up to $1,000, or 16 months, 2, or 3 years in state prison, 
          for being present as a spectator at a dogfight, as specified. 

          Increases the penalty for possessing or training a dog for 
          dogfighting, or for causing a dogfight, from 16 months, 2, or 3 
          years in state prison and/ or a fine of up to $50,000, to the 
          same prison term and a fine of up to $50,000.

Fiscal Effect:

1)Significant annual GF costs, potentially in excess of $1 
            million, for increased state prison commitments. Should two 
            dozen spectators, out of the alleged thousands of spectators, 
            be committed to state prison, annual costs would exceed $1 
            million. 

          2)This bill, by creating a new felony, would also create 
            additional – and costly – third strike exposure, triggering a 
            life term for persons with two prior violent or serious  felonies, or a   double term for a person with one prior serious 
            or violent felony. If one person per year received a third 
            strike as a result of a felony conviction under this bill, the 
            annual cost in 10 years would exceed $400,000

          3)Significant nonreimbursable local law enforcement and 
            incarceration costs for increased county jail   commitments
  
            depending upon how many persons are jailed for watching 
            dogfights. 

          4)Unknown potential state and local revenue increase to the 
            extent making a mandatory fine of up to $50,000 increases the 
            amount of fines levied and collected

Rationale  . The author contends dog fighting is a sadistic 
            sport and that increasing the penalties for spectatorship will 
            deter attendance and thus incidence. The author and the Humane 
            Society of the United States contends that tens of thousands 
            of people are involved in dog fighting and that punishing 
            spectatorship as a misdemeanor makes it more difficult for law 
            enforcement officials to effectively prosecute dog fighters. 
            Often, organized dog fights occur with several matches held 
            one after the other. When police raid a dog fight it is 
            difficult to differentiate between spectators and participants 
            who were going to fight their dog in the next match.

Concerns.  
             a)   Should the penalty for being a spectator at a dogfight 
               be the same as the penalty for actually training and 
               fighting the dogs ? Is the current six-month county jail 
               penalty inadequate? Should the penalty for spectatorship at 
               a dogfight be greater than the penalty for spectatorship at 
               a cockfight (six months and/or a fine of up to $1,000)? b)   This bill would make spectatorship at a dogfight a  

          potential third strike. 
             c)   Given current fiscal conditions and prison overcrowding, 
               increasing the prison population for this offense may be 
               problematic . The state is in the throes of a 2009-10 budget 
               deficit that may exceed $15 billion. Current prison 
               overcrowding is under review by federal courts. Plaintiffs 
               are requesting emergency inmate releases, perhaps on a 
               scale of tens of thousands of inmates. The governor is 
               proposing increased credits for inmates and summary parole 
               release. The federal prison receiver is ordering the state 
               to spend billions for inmate health care facilities in 
               addition to the current $6 billion prison construction 
               program. 

          3)Opposition . According to CA Attorneys for Criminal Justice 
            (CACJ), “… there is no sound policy basis to punish someone 
            in the spectator status equally with the organizers and 
            perpetrators of the crime of dog fighting. The organizers and 
            persons engaging in raising dogs for dog fights are already 
            punishable on the felony level. The crime of being a spectator 
            is also already punished, and is punished on a level 
            commensurate with the individual’s involvement, as a 
            misdemeanor. To increase punishment to allow state prison 
            sentences for this activity without any basis to show this 
            would either deter or prevent illegal activity,
we believe 
            would be a senseless escalation of penalty.” 

          4)Prior legislation , AB 2281 (Nava), 2008, was identical to this 
            bill’s proposed increased in penalties for being a spectator 
            at a dogfight. AB 2281 was held on this committee’s Suspense 
            File.  

Very unlikely to ever pass while CA recession still going. This is a law that most people might support, but that most CA criminal defense counsel would not support.

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