Animals In New Jersey Could Have Their Own Attorneys
While this might sound somewhat strange—okay, a lot strange—it’s true. It might actually make quite a bit of sense, too, when you start to break it down and look at why it is needed. New Jersey has considered adopting a law that will give some animals the right to have legal representation of their own in certain court cases.
The bill, if passed, would provide legal advocates for animals if they underwent pain, stress, or fear at human hands. This wasn’t the first time a bill like this was introduced in New Jersey, and it stands a good chance of passing. After all, wouldn’t be the first state to do it. Instead, it would make it the third state in the country. Connecticut was the first in 2017 and Maine was the second in 2020.
The legislation that is trying to get passed in New Jersey would create a two-year pilot program that would encompass the entire state. This would let judges who were hearing criminal cases that would affect the welfare or health of animals have attorneys and third-year law students appointed to be advocates.
Would It Be Hard to Find Willing Advocates?
Although most attorneys don’t dream about being an attorney for a dog or a cat, you might be surprised at the number of people who would be willing to provide their time for a cause like this. Backers of the bill believe that it will be easy to find plenty of students and attorneys who will be willing to take these cases and represent the animals pro bono. After all, not a lot of animals are going to have enough money to pay an attorney!
What Would The Advocate Do?
The program already has some guidelines that it can follow. It has been patterned after laws that are already on the books that let courts appoint advocates for children. The animal advocates would take on a similar role. They would be the go-between for the abused animals and the courts, as the cases progress.
Consider how this can help animals. As it stands right now, animals who are involved in these types of abuse cases end up spending time in shelters. These cases can drag on for a long time, and they could be in a shelter for a long time. With this new bill, the advocates could find and recommend foster homes. This will give the animals a safe, caring place to be during the case.
Advocates will monitor the case and attend all the hearings. They will also provide recommendations that will take the animal’s best interests into account, just like an advocate would do for children. Sometimes, there are cases where abusers get away with what they’ve done, and sometimes animals have to go back to the abuser. These types of programs can help to prevent this from happening.
It’s A Good Idea
Despite the initial thought of an animal with an attorney sounding funny, it is a good means of providing some added protection for creatures that can’t always protect themselves. Animals don’t always get the help they need, and abusers sometimes go unpunished. This would help to make things a bit better for all of these animals.
People love animals, and the more people who know about these types of programs, the more likely it is that they will proliferate. Even though there are currently only two states that have adopted this type of strategy, it’s easy to imagine that other states and other countries will do the same in the coming years.