Right to Counsel

"In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right... to have the assistance of counsel for his defense."
The Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution
Imagine being on death row with no legal representation. For countless dogs charged under the State's "vicious" dog act that is precisely their predicament. All too often they are prosecuted for simply acting as dogs - protecting their homes and their families. These cases are emotionally charged and often times politically motivated placing the dog and her guardian at a distinct disadvantage vis-a-vis the State. Frequently, the guardians are told to surrender their dogs for euthanasia or face high fines and prosecution. Those whose guardians do not succumb to the intimidation and who exercise their right to a trial must be prepared to pay legal fees, impound fees, which mount daily, expert fees, veterinary costs and court costs.

The plight of the death row dog is symbolic of all animals for whom LIDA is seeking to establish and assert rights within the legal system. It is mirrored by:
  • the colony of Trap Neuter Return (TNR) cats being torn from their home and caretaker;
  • the bull indentured to the rodeo;
  • the geese being rounded up for extermination.
Where conviction carries potential consequences of significant magnitude, the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees humans the right to counsel. Non-human animals facing significant curtailment of their liberty or even loss of their life have no such right.

LIDA believes that the fundamental right to counsel should extend to all animals who face a loss of life or a significant loss of their liberty.

"...reason and reflection require us to recognize that in our adversary system of criminal justice, any person hauled into court, who is too poor to hire a lawyer, cannot be assured a fair trial unless counsel is provided for him...
The right of one charged with crime to counsel may not be deemed fundamental and essential to fair trials in some countries, but it is in ours."
Justice Black
Gideon v. Wainwright 372 US 335, 1963
LIDA cooperating attorneys work on a pro bono or reduced fee so the dollars go further but money is still required for legal fees, expert fees and court costs. The stock market is referred to as bullish or bearish but the truth is that neither bulls, bears or other wildlife nor farm animals or companion animals invest in the market, have bank accounts, or even stash money under the mattress. This is not the currency of their lives. Money, however, is necessary if LIDA is to continue to fight for their interests within our legal system. For all of these animals your dollars provide the key to the courthouse and may mean the difference between life and death.
Your contributions to the LIDA Right To Counsel campaign will help:
  1. Provide a lawyer to represent the interest of every animal facing loss of life or significant loss of liberty.
  2. Balance the scales of justice by providing money for experts, investigators, and court costs.
  3. Counter intimidation with education - educating guardians as to their rights and responsibilities.
  4. Ensure that LIDA's victories translate into lives saved - providing the financial resources to implement court orders and negotiated settlements, and to support LIDA rescue.
Please give generously so LIDA can continue its work.