Originally posted in 2012…………. We did not interview the people, someone else did, we are just quoting from the link……….
[Please make sure to see CA criminal notations near end]
Debe Bell of Jefferson County Colorado was convicted of 35 counts of animal abuse on January 27th, 2012. Her crime was that she had 193 rabbits in 184 cages and that 4 or 5 of these cages were severely laden with manure. Twenty-five of the 193 rabbits were kits. That’s what baby rabbits are called. I spoke with Debe about the court ruling and garnered a significant amount of information that Channel 7 out of Denver didn’t pretend to be interested in. If you look at the link provided, you can scroll down to see the previous stories done on the rabbit raid by Channel 7, and judge if the headlines alone are emotional enough to convict someone.
[PD note: we can tell anyone that headlines ARE enough to convict and you will NEED a hugely competent criminal attorney; it is a fact that about 75% of juries believe in ADVANCE that defendants are guilty simply because they have been charged.]
The spokesman for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, Mark Techmeyer, said that the rabbits were in an “overheated” 84-degree barn. This temperature was taken on a 94-degree day after several hours of having the swamp cooler unplugged and the door to the barn open. He also said there were dead rabbits in the barn. Ms Bell said “One rabbit had died that morning while I was at work. About 15 adults and who knows how many babies died after they removed the rabbits from my barn.”
A veterinarian from the Foothills Animal Shelter reportedly stated on the stand that she thought 80 degrees was too high and that 72 as a maximum would be a better temperature requirement. However, if one simply thinks for a minute, should rabbits fail to survive temperatures over 84 degrees, we wouldn’t have rabbits in North America. The fact is that the optimum temperature range for rabbits is from 50 to 80 degrees F. It should also be noted that “optimum” is not equivalent to “required”.
Techmeyer also said that the rabbits were “aggressively thirsty”. This terminology is being used to describe behavior that those who raise rabbits see as normal rabbit attitudes. They say they were “aggressive” because when the cage doors were opened, many of the rabbits jumped forward to the door; but lots of rabbits do that. Sometimes they will even jump out of the cages when the door is opened. It’s just what they do. Other rabbits will cower at the back of their cage in seeming terror. Those rabbits are more timid types, but it does not, in any way, indicate that the rabbit has been abused. These are just typical rabbit behaviors, and what they indicate is that the subject is a typical rabbit.
Ms Bell said that the judge would not allow the rabbits to be referred to as livestock. It is an important distinction because when something is considered as a pet instead of a resource there is a personification of the animal that takes place in the psyche of the listener. [PD note: We think that if the rabbits are in 4H they are livestock and should have had more jury instructions points+authorities in that direction]
Initially, Debe was charged with 25 counts of animal cruelty. The Prosecutor ramped it up to 55 counts after the rabbits had been seized and spayed or neutered. The jury threw out the 20 charges of cruelty on dead animals that were found in her freezer. Ms Bell said that when the jury was told that this was a animal cruelty case involving rabbits, literally half of them rolled their eyes, indicating to her that they thought the entire issue was ridiculous. Despite that, they found her guilty of 35 cruelty charges that the prosecutor would like to get separate convictions on. There is an 18 month jail term possible for each count against her. A little math shows that it is potential of 52.5 years in jail for the 59 year-old rabbit breeder.
In a previous article, I covered the photos taken to assist the prosecution in indicting and convicting Ms Bell. And again, I have to say that in particular, the manure in the cages shown is not good, and I am not defending that as evidence of good animal husbandry. But the larger issue is that there was no warning given, no warrant on site until six hours after the House Rabbit Society and the Sheriff came and began removing the rabbits from Bell’s barn, and no attempt by the authorities to allow Ms Bell to correct the problems shown in these photos. Also, no mention was made of Ms Bell’s contention that her 4-H kids were scheduled to come on Saturday, two days after the raid, to clean the barn and cages.
According to Ms Bell, a member of the House Rabbit Society was overheard to say that if the raid on her rabbitry went off well they were then going to go after the “one on 104th”. That is exactly what happened. There are now two other rabbit breeders in Colorado currently facing animal cruelty charges related to the anonymous tip line with up to $2,000 in awards available for tips resulting in convictions. One is facing 57 counts of abuse, with potentially 18 months of jail time for each offense.
At question here is the very basis of our legal system. As a brief overview, Ms Bell was reported via an anonymous tip line that pays for convictions, the Sheriff and House Rabbit Society were on her property removing her rabbits without a search warrant, the rabbits were spayed, neutered and adopted out before any conviction was assessed. So due process, security in our property, and the right to face our accusers are all on the line in this case. [PD note: in CA, exigent circumstances under PC 597.1 might allow immediate seizure, depending on the “exigency.”]
There will be an appeal made in the case, and Ms. Bell expects the appeal process to last approximately two years. She remains optimistic about the process. She said, “As the process continues, we will be able to get more legitimate knowledge into the record.” She feels that if the information is fairly assessed, she will be exonerated in the long term.
PD note: In CA, an animal abuse conviction, misdemeanor and especially for felony, MUST be proven beyond a reasonable doubt —by CRIMINAL negligence, NOT civil negligence. This standard was set in the appeal on the Speegle Poodle case out of Butte County which sent that lady to PRISON, not county jail.
Proof of criminal negligence requires defendant’s conduct must amount to a reckless, gross, or culpable departure from the ordinary standard of due care, it must be such a departure from what would be the conduct of an ordinarily prudent person under the same circumstances as to be incompatible with a proper regard for [animal] life.
This is important, and CA PC Section 20, that ” [i]n every crime or public offense, there must exist a union, or joint operation of act and intent, or criminal negligence” …which is just another reason why California SB917, making selling/display a CRIME when outside, is bullshit.
The data on SB917 appears to say that the second conviction+subsequent will be misdemeanors, BUT that is a standalone offense, and if you violate anything else under PC 597 or 597.1 or any other code elsewhere, those are all separate offenses, and if you maim an animal, EACH animal is a separate count of course. So showing an animal for sale outside (if you had 5 animals) could be 5 misdemeanor counts, and as many other abuse counts as the AC can make up on each animal. But if you were a “non profit” you don’t get charged with all of the 5 misdemeanor counts, you might only get charged if you did “abuse” under one of the other sections. Thus the non profit will not, and cannot be charged for doing exactly the same thing as one might do (who is not a non profit) under SB917.
One cannot be criminally negligent because you are “NOT” a non profit. This code is charging people with misdemeanor offense which will require the application of criminal negligence. SB917 squarely places the law UNDER the CA Penal Code Section of animal ABUSE. (We believe the next laws will say that ANY conviction under the CA PC Abuse Sections SHALL constitute grounds for forfeiting your animals, and NO ownership for 10 years. That is our educated prediction.)
PC 597(b) for example, is used for failing to provide animal with proper food, drink or shelter or protection from the weather, or subjecting to needless suffering or inflicting unnecessary cruelty upon the animal, punishable as misdemeanor or felony by fine of not more than $20,000. (The scienter of criminal negligence is premised on an objective standard of reasonableness.) The ARs claimed this was the case and the “reason” they “needed” this law SB917…they believe “selling” IS abuse.
Therefore it is obvious that a jury must HAVE an objective STANDARD of reasonableness, NOT AN AR STANDARD OF WHAT IS ‘REASONABLE’ since ARs are almost never reasonable, but are extremist in nature. That is where you bring in the EXPERT that can out-do the AR expert because ARs cannot produce objective experts in most cases. Remember, ARs claim whales have constitutional rights.