Friday, February 27, 2009

The Federal Judicial Center

An interesting site, complete with a free down-load of a federal judges "bench-book," a step-by-step "how to" book for conducting, among other things, criminal trials. It should be called "Bench-sitting for Dummies."

Click on title above to go to the Federal Judical Center

Animal Control Officer Shoots @ Cow, Kills Senior Citizen Instead

NOT GUILTY of involuntary manslaughter? Why would he want to shoot the cow? Just because it was loose? Sounds like a heartless hot-head to me that should have been prosecuted to the fullest extent...

Jury delivers split verdict in trial of former Animal Control Officer
Wanda Combs
The Floyd Press: News >
Thu Feb 26, 2009 - 10:28 AM

By Doug Thompson

A jury of eight women and four men Wednesday acquitted former Floyd County animal control officer Garland “Buckey” Nester of felony involuntary manslaughter but found him guilty of a misdemeanor charge of reckless discharge of a firearm in the shooting death of 75-year-old Connor Grove Road resident Paul Belcher in May 2008.

The verdict came after an hour and 38 minutes of deliberations at the close of a two-day trial in Floyd County Circuit Court. The jury was scheduled to hear arguments later Wednesday in the sentencing phase of the trial to determine punishment on the firearms charge.

The jury’s decision came after an emotional closing argument by Special Prosecutor Clifford Hapgood, who contended Nester fired his weapon in anger at a cow that escaped more than once from rented pastureland.

“This was not a careful and calm assassination of a cow,” Hapgood said of the shooting of an escaped animal where one of the bullets went astray and killed Belcher on May 29, 2008 near the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Hapgood contended Nester, who chased the cow twice on that day and failed to herd the animal back to a rented pasture area, lost his temper and fired in anger without regard to the circumstances. He compared Nester’s actions to “Buck fever,” a situation where hunters shoot without regard to consequences.

“You want to kill that deer. You want to kill that that cow. You don’t care about anything else,” Hapgood said. “The cow is going down.”

David Damico, Nester’s Roanoke-based defense attorney, told the jury in closing arguments that the state had failed to offer any evidence that Nester lost his temper or fired in anger.

“Where’s the rage?” Damico asked. “Where’s the anger?”

Hapgood, the Commonwealth’s Attorney of Franklin County, wrapped up his case against Nester late Wednesday morning in the trial’s second day. Damico chose not to offer any witnesses for the defense, moving to dismiss the charges but Judge Ray W. Grubbs denied the motion.

Nester did not take the stand.

In his opening argument, Tuesday, Damico compared the series of events to the famous 1991 collision of weather fronts off the coast of Newfoundland that created a massive storm and led to a best-selling book and popular movie about the events and tragic deaths of fishermen and a Coast Guard rescue team member.

“Like that perfect storm that led to tragic consequences, the events on May 29, 2008, were a series of events that led to a tragic death,” Damico told the jury in his opening arguments.

Hapgood, in his opening statement, said the central issue of the case centered on whether or not Nester’s actions were reckless and if the 45-year-old former county official was in control of his emotions after spending most of an hour trying to coax a recalcitrant cow back to some rented pasture land adjacent to his Connor Grove home near the Blue Ridge Parkway. He said Nester’s “gross negligence” and “callous disregard for human life” resulted in Belcher’s “tragic death.”

“On this particular day, the animal control officer not only was not controlling animals, he was not controlling himself. This death needs to be punished,” Hapgood told the jury.

Belcher died from one of four shots Nester fired at the cow, which had escaped from the pasture more than once. After several unsuccessful attempts to force the 850-pound Holstein cow back to the pasture, Nester fired two shots at the animal, reloaded his 357-magnum semi-automatic pistol, and fired two more.

Jean Belcher testified that her husband heard the first two shots and drove his pickup truck to down to the road to see if he could help. Belcher had called the Floyd County Sheriff’s Department a day earlier to report that cows were escaping from Nester’s rented pasture.

Mrs. Belcher said she heard the other shots and then heard her husband scream “I’ve been shot.” Virginia State Police said Belcher was hit after taking three steps from his pickup.

A State Police report concluded three of the four shots hit the animal and one killed it. A veterinarian found two bullets in the cow and evidence of a third shot that grazed a leg. Damico, however, contended all four shots struck the animal and a third shot would have been found in the animal’s neck if the vet had only looked. He claimed the bullet that grazed the leg ricocheted and struck Belcher, 190 feet away and out of Nester’s line of sight.

The vet concluded that the one-centimeter puncture wound in the neck was not caused by a bullet and did not probe for one. Amy Tharp, assistant chief medical examiner for Western Virginia, testified that the bullet that killed Belcher did not have the characteristics of a slug that struck another object before hitting him the abdomen.

Hapgood attempted to build the case that the fourth bullet went astray because Nester fired out of anger without aiming. He tried to introduce testimony from Belcher’s brother, who Hapgood said would have testified that Nester’s son Travis said immediately after the event that his father was “crazy and shooting at everything” but Damico objected, saying the testimony was hearsay. Grubbs agreed and also refused to allow specic parts of testimony from Janet Keith, a former teacher of the son. Hapgood said she would have quoted the young Nester as saying his father “got mad” and fired at the cow.

Grubbs heard the arguments with the jury out of the courtroom, ruled out the testimony that characterized Nester as “crazy” or “mad” and allowed the witnesses to only testify that that Travis Nester said his father shot Belcher.

Jury selection for the trial took three hours as Grubbs and the two attorneys questioned 27 potential jurors before agreeing on the final 12. Hapgood did not complete his case before Grubbs adjourned for the day at 5:10 p.m. The prosecutor is expected finish up on Wednesday.

Before jury selection, Damico argued the case should be moved out of the county, saying the jury pool was tainted by excessive pre-trial publicity from newspapers, television and a local blog.

Damico cited what he called “inflammatory” reporting. Grubbs decided to go through the jury selection process before ruling on the motion and only two of the 27 potential jurors said they read the blog in question and less than half said they had read about the case in newspapers or saw a television report. Grubbs denied the motion.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Georgia to End Gassing? Rally Feb 26, 2009

The Gathering for Grace - Grace’s Law February 26th
A Bill to Kill Georgia’s Gas Chambers

Please cross post to all GA and nearby contacts

Members of Georgia’s animal advocacy community statewide are
invited to attend. For more information, please contact

The Gathering for Grace
will be held next Thursday, February 26th, at the Washington Street entrance of the Georgia State Capitol, from 9:30 A.M. until 2:30 P.M.
A chartered bus will depart from the outlet mall on I-95 in Darien at 4:30 A.M. and make one stop in Macon at 7:30 A.M. To reserve a seat, e-mail

1) join us if you can,

2) cross-post the Press Release Widely, and

3)CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS to ask them to support a total ban on gas chambers in Georgia.

Find your legislators’ contact information by accessing this link:
Georgia Voters for Animal Welfare Hosting Rally to Support Grace’s Law, a Bill to Ban All Animal Gas Chambers in Georgia
ATLANTA, GA (February 21, 2009)— Georgia Voters for Animal Welfare (GVAW) will host a rally at the Capitol on Thursday, February 26, 2009, in support of Grace’s Law, a bill to totally ban the use of animal gas chambers in Georgia. Members of Georgia’s animal advocacy community statewide are invited to attend.

The purpose of the rally is to raise the public’s awareness of gas chambers still being used to kill unwanted animals in at least 15 city and/or county animal control facilities statewide. An intended outcome of the peaceful demonstration is that Georgia voters will call or write their legislators and ask them to support a total ban on gas chambers – statewide, permanently and with no exceptions.

The Humane Euthanasia Act of 1990 enacted a legislative ban on gas chambers with two exceptions: Counties with less than 25,000 residents were exempted and larger counties using gas chambers prior to 1990 were “grandfathered in” by written request, but they were not entitled to replace their chambers. In 2007, the Georgia Department of Agriculture was charged with multiple violations of the statute for allowing larger counties that were grandfathered in, including Cobb County, to replace and continue using gas chambers in their animal control facilities.

Gas chambers pose dangerous health risks for shelter employees and are inhumane to both the workers and animals, even if they are used properly. “The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) provides strict guidelines regarding the construction, operation and oversight of gas chambers and has consistently recommended lethal injection as the preferred method for euthanizing dogs and cats”, stated GVAW member, Davis Cosey of Perry, Georgia. “Many of Georgia’s active gas chambers are decades old, some were illegally installed and all of them are unreliable, unsafe, unregulated and inhumane”, added Cosey.

Tennessee banned gas chambers after a shelter employee died from carbon monoxide poisoning in 2002. In 2006, Liberty County Animal Control shut down their gas chamber, illegally installed in 2002, after a hound dog survived gassing. The dog, dubbed “Amazing Grace” by Liberty County shelter workers, was the inspiration for Grace’s Law. In June 2008, the Macon City Council unanimously passed an ordinance to switch from euthanasia by gas to lethal injection on or before July 1, 2009.

Grace’s Law has been submitted to legislative counsel by Representatives Mark Hatfield, R-HD 177, and Tom Knox, R-HD 24. “Apparently, gas chambers are a sensitive and somewhat controversial issue”, said Chamblee Abernethy, GVAW Co-Founder. “Initially, we found it hard to find legislators willing to step up and do the right thing – kill gas chambers – but we’ve got excellent sponsors now and co-sponsors are rolling in.” For more information, contact:

Georgia Voters for Animal Welfare (GVAW) is an informally structured, grassroots network of citizens working to make Georgia a safer, healthier and more humane state. GVAW is not affiliated with any state or national animal welfare organization(s). While our organization works independently, we are committed to building positive relationships with local and state legislators.
Grace’s LawA Bill to Kill Georgia’s Gas Chambers
The Background

Today, nearly 20 years after Georgia’s partial ban, an estimated 20 gas chambers remain in use. During Georgia’s 2008 General Assembly, HB Bill 1060 was introduced and heard once. Its passage would have closed the loopholes in the 1990 law.
The Facts

In 2007, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) published AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia, a comprehensive study which includes recommendations for all methods of euthanasia. Among the Guidelines are specific requirements regarding the construction, operation and oversight of gas chambers. Experts impaneled by the AVMA have repeatedly concluded that “intravenous injection of barbituric acid derivatives (e.g., sodium pentobarbital) is the preferred method for euthanasia of dogs and cats.” Also, recent cost studies comparing euthanasia by injection (EBI) to euthanasia by gas chamber found EBI the less expensive method.

Many gas chambers in Georgia are decades old and a shocking number of them are actually homemade. Gas leaks from such chambers heighten the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning for shelter workers who unknowingly breathe in low levels of gas on a regular basis when they load, unload and clean the chambers. There is no documentation available to prove any of the estimated 20 chambers still in use are in compliance with either AVMA Guidelines or state and federal OSHA Regulations or even that the GDOA routinely inspects and/or monitors the equipment used.

A gas chamber is hazardous to personnel and inhumane to animals, even when used properly. Those who believe that animals simply “go to sleep” have not witnessed the horror of the gas chamber. Those who have witnessed gassingdescribe the experience as torturous to animals and highly stressful to humans. In recent years, documented cases have been reported of a human death and injuries, gas leakages, chamber explosions, animals surviving gassings and being re-gassed one or more times, and related trauma suffered by both shelter workers and animals described. Such reports have prompted several states to switch from euthanasia by gas to EBI.

In 2006, Liberty County Animal Control shut down their gas chamber – illegally installed in 2002 – because a tri-colored hound survived a gassing. This event exposed gas chambers as an unreliable method of euthanasia, and coupled with the trauma suffered by LCAC shelter workers, was the catalyst for the Liberty County shutdown. The hound dog, dubbed “Amazing Grace” by LCAC shelter workers, was the inspiration for naming this bill.

Yet, Georgia continues to spend taxpayers’ dollars to fund animal control facilities that gas healthy, friendly animals to death by the thousands! Knowing the facts, why does Georgia persist in using this barbaric, outdated, shameful practice that would not be authorized by FEMA, even under the conditions of a national disaster?

– During the 20 years following the enactment of Georgia’s ban on gas chambers, research and experience have consistently supported an argument against their use. The Solution For Grace’s sake
Let’s close the loopholes in the 1990 Humane Euthanasia Act and shut the door of every gas chamber in Georgia forever. Grace’s Law will end dialogues that treat the symptoms of animal overpopulation and shift the focus to its causes.

Spalding Gas Chamber

Warner Robins Gas Chamber

Macon Gas Chamber

Georgia Cities and Counties Still Using the Gas Chamber
Ashburn, City of Barnesville, (City of) Animal ShelterButts CountyCobb County Cordele, City ofCuthbert, City ofHaralson CountyHawkinsville, City of Henry CountyLakeland, City of Macon, City of Mitchell CountySpalding CountyVienna, City ofWarner Robins
(In Houston County; no county facility) Animal Shelter (in Dooly County; no county facility) Animal Shelter Animal Control(In Bibb County; no county facility; chamber operated in City of Macon, under the jurisdiction of Macon Police Animal Control. Macon City Council voted unanimously June 2008 to cease using chamber by July 1, 2009.)(In Lanier County; no county facility.) Animal Control(In Pulaski County; no county facility. Animal Shelter (In Randolph County; no county facility; chamber housed in City of Cuthbert.) (In Crisp County)Animal Control (After court order in 2006 to cease using chamber) Animal Control (In Lamar County; no county facility; chamber housed in City of Barnesville.)

"Not to hurt our humble brethren [the animals] is our first duty to them,
but to stop there is not enough. We have a higher mission:
to be of service to them wherever they require it."
Saint Francis of Assisi

Please click to feed dogs and cats in shelters !
Generates donations of food toabused and neglected animals.

Please click to help other animals in need !
Generates donations to Seals, Rainforest, Oceans, Big Cats, Primates, Pets.

Please click if you can help !
To better the lives of sick, injured and abused companion animals. We are dedicated to insure that no companion animal has to be euthanized simply because their caretaker is financially challenged.
"Helping people help pets".

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Long-Standing Animal Cruelty Case

Two horses shot in the head at vet clinic
Vero Beach, FL (US)

Incident Date: Thursday, Jan 11, 2007
County: Indian River

Charges: Felony CTA
Disposition: Alleged

Alleged: John Christopher Tennant, Jr.

Case Updates: 3 update(s) available

The Humane Society of the United States is offering a reward of up to $2,500 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for shooting two horses at a veterinary clinic in Vero Beach, Florida on January 11.

According to the Indian River County Sheriff's Office, an employee of the East Coast Equine Clinic found two horses shot in their heads in the pasture behind the clinic on 69th Street on the morning of January 11. Authorities believe the shooting took place between midnight and 8 a.m. One horse, belonging to the clinic's owner died. The second horse belongs to the son of the clinic owner and is undergoing intensive veterinary care.

The Indian River County Sheriff's Office Agricultural Unit is investigating the case. They ask anyone in the vicinity who may have heard a gunshot or noticed anything out of the ordinary at the time of the crime to contact them immediately. The Agricultural Unit can be reached at 772-569-6700.
Case Updates
St. Edwards School student Robbie Biehl, 10, never wants to meet Indian River County jail inmate John Tennant.

The reason: two .22-caliber bullets, which county sheriff's investigators allege Tennant, 23, inexplicably fired over a rural pasture fence late one night two years ago, killing one horse and severely injuring Robbie's horse.

From what investigators have found, Tennant, who still is in jail awaiting trial, was a stranger who happened upon the horses in the middle of the night on Jan. 11, 2007 about a quarter mile off 69th Street, according to reports.

Now the boy's formerly friendly horse Sonny shies away from people, standing at the back of his stall. The animal gets infections in the right nasal cavity where bullet fragments are lodged, according to Robbie's mother, veterinarian Valerie Biehl.

Sonny is retired from being ridden, or serving as a launching board for Robbie's cannonballs into the ocean surf.

Tennant has been in jail under a $55,000 bail following his arrest Jan. 18, 2007 on animal cruelty charges. He also is charged with another crime that night: felony criminal mischief in connection with bullets fired into an unoccupied private security vehicle in a subdivision development off 58th Avenue. He has pleaded not guilty.

His case is next scheduled to come up for court review on Feb. 13, court records show.

The maximum penalty, on all charges, is about 45 years in jail, said Assistant State Attorney Adam Chrzan.

During the past two years, Tennant's defense attorney, former state attorney Robert Stone, has repeatedly had the case continued. Reasons have ranged from interviewing witnesses to scheduling conflicts.

Prosecutors have offered a plea deal, including an undisclosed amount of time in state prison and probation.

Biehl opposes that. She wants a jury trial. "I'll have the courtroom full" of people, she said.

According to court records, the two horses were each shot once in the forehead around 2:45 a.m. and left to die. One was found dead in the field in the morning. Robbie's mother followed a 75-yard-long blood trail to find Sonny bleeding in a stall.

Investigators used a truck tire print from the scene to track down Tennant. In his pickup truck were empty bullet casings, reports show. One of Tennant's acquaintances told officers Tennant boasted of shooting some horses. And, under questioning by an investigator, he said he shot the horses, court records state.

"There was no reason or rationale for what he (Tennant) did," Chrzan said. From the state's point of view, "It was senseless and ridiculous."
Source: TCPalm.Com - Feb 3, 2009
Update posted on Feb 3, 2009 - 3:09PM
A 21-year-old Vero Beach man was arrested Thursday and charged with two felony counts of animal cruelty for allegedly shooting two horses � killing one of them � at a pasture near Winter Beach on Jan. 11.

John Christopher Tennant Jr., of the 4400 block of 61st Court, was arrested by county Sheriff's Office detectives at the Sheriff's Office, where Tennant allegedly confessed to shooting the horses while they stood behind a pasture fence.

Tennant was being held in the county jail without bond Thursday night.

The horses were shot between their eyes at a pasture at East Coast Equine on 69th Street. One of the horses, a paint about 18 years old and named Sonny, is expected to recover, but a 6-year-old thoroughbred named Woody died.

Tennant allegedly told Detective Todd Finnegan he used his .22 Magnum pistol to shoot the horses.

"(Tennant) never said why he shot them," Sheriff's Office spokesman Deputy Jeff Luther said Thursday.

The exact time of the shootings wasn't immediately available Thursday night, but authorities believe the horses were shot sometime between midnight and 8 a.m. Jan. 11.

Thursday night, Biehl said she was very grateful the Sheriff's Office arrested the suspect.

"We'll all be sleeping better tonight," she said of her and her family. "I'm just so glad they caught him. Who knows what else this person would have done? I'm so impressed with our Sheriff's Office and the Ranch and Grove (Unit). They never stopped working on this."

Biehl said she doesn't know Tennant.

"I never heard of him and never met him," she said. "I'm just glad he's off the streets for the safety of everyone in Indian River County and their horses."

She said Sonny is bleeding from his nose, but still walks up to anyone near his stall in his old, friendly way.

"He's a wonderful, amazing horse," Biehl said.

According to the Sheriff's Office, detectives found tire tracks at the crime scene along with an empty Budweiser beer can. After visiting several stores, detectives confirmed the tracks were made by Super Swamper TSL Radial tires.

After further investigation, detectives compiled a list of people owning this type of tire and later found Tennant's vehicle � a 1997 Ford F150 � parked behind a Gifford business where Tennant worked, according to the affidavit.

"The vehicle had tires that matched the tracks at the crime scene and had empty Budweiser beer cans in the (truck) bed," according to the affidavit.

Detectives then began talking with some of Tennant's friends. One of his friends reportedly told detectives Tennant went to his residence about 11 a.m. Jan. 11 and Tennant said he had called in sick to work, according to the Sheriff's Office.

While driving around together later that day, Tennant allegedly bragged to his friend and his friend's girlfriend about shooting some horses and a vehicle earlier that morning, the affidavit stated.

Luther said in the early morning of Jan. 11, Tennant was driving alone in the 5300 block of 58th Avenue when he slowed down and fired several shots at an empty Wackenhut security vehicle parked at a residential development.

Tennant then drove to 69th Street and got out of his truck to go to the bathroom near East Coast Equine, Luther said.

"He had been drinking all day," Luther said. "He saw the horses standing there and he shot them."

He said more charges are pending. Sheriff's Office officials received several tips in the case from local residents and residents from elsewhere in Florida and outside of the state, Luther said.

"We're looking into whether anyone is eligible for a reward" being offered by various groups, including the Humane Society of the United States, Luther said.

Source: TCPalm - Jan 19, 2007
Update posted on Jan 19, 2007 - 9:43PM

A man accused of shooting horses in Indian River County blames beer on his troubles.

John Tennant, Jr. told police he had two cases of beer before driving to a stable and shooting two thoroughbred horses. One of them, a prized breeding horse, died. The 16-year-old thoroughbred, named Woody, was worth $65,000.

The other horse, named Sonny, survived the shooting.

Tennant apparently told a friend about the shootings. He was booked into the Indian River County jail on felony animal cruelty charges.

Source: WFTV - Jan 19, 2007
Update posted on Jan 19, 2007 - 4:14PM

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

George Writes Another Fantastic Letter

I am so proud of him! What a good writer he is turning out to be!

118 River Rd. 2nd Fl.
Johnsonville, NY 12094
(518) 753 - 7791

February 16, 2009

Jubic v. Jubic, etc. S. Ct. Case # 214005

Hon. Judge Hummel,

I am the plaintiff in the above mentioned proceeding and am hoping you will consider this letter as my reply to the defendants accusations that I am “willfully in non-compliance” with their request to depose me.

As you know, my former counsel, Mr. James L. Coffin, has been permanently disbarred from practicing law in New York State. I cannot afford to hire another lawyer and despite due diligence, I cannot interest any in taking the case without cash up front. I did speak to the Legal Aid Society who tells me they don't handle these types of cases,--so I am forced to prosecute this action pro se, though I do so reluctantly as I am by no means competent to do so. Aside from my complete lack of knowledge of the legal process, my medical records will show that I suffer nervous mental disorders that make it difficult for me to concentrate or to absorb information. It was my hope that I would have been able to obtain counsel to accompany me to the deposition.

Update; April 21,2010 - George did obtain documation from 2 of his psychologists and 1 from his long time physician to validate his claim of suffering from mental disorders, nervousness, and diminished cognitive skills. At a subsequent pre-trial hearing, he did present these to the judge and renewed orally his request for assignment of counsel - but to no avail. The judge looked at the documents briefly but gave no reply.

One of the most apparent disadvantages of my position as an indigent without counsel is that I will be subjected to oral deposition without the benefit of counsel. I have never been deposed before but I am told that it takes place in an atmosphere of “interrogations.” The absence of counsel coupled with my nervous and mental disabilities but me at a great disadvantage and is a freighting prospect for me to have to go through alone, unassisted and without counsel. Moreover, because of my indigence and lack of facilities, I would have no resources upon which to draw to depose my opponents reciprocally. Again, another disadvantage for me.

Therefore, I am requesting that in the interest of fairness, and in the courts discretion, that oral depositions be waived and substituted with the submission of written interrogatories. I do not believe that my adversaries case will be prejudiced in any way, and no one side will have an unfair advantage .

Update: Georges request to allow written dispostions instead of oral was also ignored.

As to the matter of discovery, since I have never received a copy of the defendants reply from my (then) attorney, James L. Coffin, I am unable to say for certain what documents were or were not provided. In that case, I will ask for a re-construction of the documents previously provided so that I may better understand the degree of the defendants compliance or not.


In view of the fact that my lawful wife shares a common interest in the financial well-being of our marital estate, coupled with the fact that I did sign my interest over to her in 2004, and in view of the fact that my wife is an experienced paralegal with many years of experience in both civil and criminal litigation, I hereby request of the court that she be joined with me in this action as a co-plaintiff. I do not believe that doing so will in any way prejudice the defendants case.

Update: This request was also ignored.

Thank you in advance for any consideration you may give this matter.


George J. Jubic, Plaintiff
118 River Rd. 2nd Fl.
Johnsonville, NY 12094
(518) 753 - 7791

CC: Michael P. Mansion, Attorney for Defendants
1528 Central Ave
Albany, NY 12205

Monday, February 16, 2009

Banks Bundling Mortgages Illegal

Interesting if your mortage was ever sold (ours was, three times):

Posted by Sheldon Waxman, Freedom Lawyers Blog; Feb. 10, 2009

What most people don't realize

Mortgages have standard provisions allowing the mortgage to be assigned.
However, the provision requires the assignor to notify the mortgagor of the
assignment and the new bank. This provision was not followed and all the
assignments are illegal, according to contract law. Ignoring this provision
the Harvard computer nerd bundled the mortgages. They knew nothing about
real estate law. It's unbelievable. When I renegotiated by mortgage, they
told me they didn't know who owned my mortgage.

Sheldon (Shelly) Waxman

Saturday, February 14, 2009

2 Pa Judges Sued

Two Judges Face Class Action Over Juvenile Detention Corruption

Families and loved ones of juveniles who suffered civil rights violations may have their day in court. A class action lawsuit has been filed against Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr, Senior Judge Michael T. Conahan alleging that the 2 men, and other parties named in the suit, acted "under the cloak of the court," to wilfully and knowingly deprive young defendants who appeared in Luzerne County juvenile court of their civil rights.

The lead plaintiff in the suit, Florence Wallace, will represent her 15 year old daughter and all children who allegedly suffered civil rights violations under the authority of Judges Conahan and Ciavarella between 2003 and May 2008.

Additionally, the suit claims that the judges engaged in racketeering activity involving in a scheme to raise millions of dollars to build 2 juvenile detention centers.

Hundreds of children in Pennsylvania and their families allegedly had their civil rights violated through actions attributable to the 2 judges.

Other defendants named in the suit are:
Attorney Robert J. Powell, a former co-owner of the juvenile facilities
Powell Law Group, P.C., Powell's Drums-based law firm
Pa. Child Care LLC and Western Pa. Child Care LLC, the companies that own the facilities
Mid-Atlantic Youth Services Corp., the company that operates the facilities
Robert K. Mericle and Mericle Construction Inc., the developers of the centers
Gregory Zappala, the other co-owner of the juvenile centers
Pinnacle Group of Jupiter LLC, a firm operated by Ciavarella and Conahan
Beverage Marketing of Pa. Inc., a firm operated by Conahan
Vision Holdings LLC, a firm operated by Powell
Barbara Conahan and Cindy Ciavarella, the judges' wives
An attorney listed as "Joe Doe"

NYS to Consider Anti-Thethering Law for Dogs!

Dear Friend of Animals,


We will be visiting Albany on March 30 with the Humane Society of the United States on “Humane Lobby Day” and hope you will come with us to lobby for this and other
legislation to protect our friends. After all, if we do not speak for them who will?
Thank You.
_ (
Garo Alexanian
Companion Animal Network

Garo Alexanian, Executive Producer, Companion Animal Network Television
Edward Wiacek, Humane Law Consultant NY City Police Dept(ret).
Kevin P. Kirk, DVM, Veterinary Consultant, Queens Midway Animal Hospital
Charles Nicholas, Esq., General Counsel

PO Box 656712, Fresh Meadows, NY 11365 718-544-PETS(7387)

Associate Producers

Bill Hinkle, Bronx, NY
Enid Breakstone, Dallas, TX
Michelle Moschides, Staten Island,NY
Marge Ungaro, Queens, NY
Marilyn Spierer, Manhattan, NY
Andy Sessa, Brooklyn, NY
Lars Pardo, Seattle, WA
Kari Nienstadt, Phoenix, AZ
Judy Jones, San Jose, CA
June Wilson, S.F., CA
Susan Huesken, Cincinnati, OH
Trevor Chin, Tampa, FL
Dion Sullivan, Washington, D.C.
Bonnie Boine, St. Louis, MO
Susan Alpern, Miami, FL
Peter Goetz, Mt. Holly, NC
Jeff Dorson, New Orleans, LA

Dear Member of the NYS Legislature:
Pending legislation against tethering dogs more than 6 hours per day is
self-evident to be necessary and supported by our members. California passed such
legislation recently, as have many other states. New York State has never
been one to fall behind other states, but on this issue it has occurred. In
2003, upon the discovery during the Spring thaw of the chained frozen carcass
of a dog tied to a stake, the NYS Legislature passed into law its first ever “
standard of care” legislation regarding companion animals. However, there
were missed opportunities which would have prevented the premature death of “
Pepie” recently, (1) below, and numerous other dogs being frozen to death
while tethered, (2) below.
We would like to bring to the Legislature’s attention that “Pepie” lived in
a 10 ft. by 3 ft. by 3.5 ft cage for perhaps as long as 16 years, day and
night, winter and summer, until he died in January 2009.

In Buffalo, a local rescue group distributed the below picture and accounting
of dogs frozen while tied up.

From: "Julie Stayer" _julie@spbr.org_ ( (at
Sent: Thursday, February 05, 2009 12:41 PM
Dogs being left outside to DIE! -
A person contacted our rescue with this story and picture.
He was at Wilson Farms around 10:30 am the other day. He noticed a "City
of Buffalo Animal Control" vehicle. He noticed something protruding from
the vehicle. Upon closer investigation, he saw that the back of the truck was
loaded with dead dogs, about 12, mostly Pit bulls that were frozen solid.

The Animal Control Officer informed the man that he drives around all day
and picks up dead dogs, mostly Pit bulls, that are left outside to die.
Bottom line, there needs to be more education, media coverage and penalties for
this abuse. I think we've all tried to call about these cases and are told
that as long as the dog has shelter, that there is nothing that can legally be
done. That needs to change.

I have contacted Channel 2, who would like to investigate. A fellow rescuer
of mine, also a part of Smilin' Pit Bull Rescue, has contacted Channel 4,
who is also interested.

Please forward to fellow animal lovers, local leaders, everyone who has a

Thank you!

Julie Stayer
Smilin' Pit Bull Rescue Volunteer
Incorporating appropriate provisions which define standards of care for
outdoor dogs into the proposed anti-tethering legislation would prevent the
necessity to revisit this issue once more when more such publicly revolting sights
are reported while the owner is in compliance with the existing lack of
standards of care. As you read this there are two Rottweiller siblings freezing 24
hrs a day, 7 days a week, sitting on concrete in un-insulated dog houses in
New Rochelle at the home of a millionaire who owns half a dozen Mercedes
vehicles. These cases are the few that we hear about. It does not take much
imagination to realize that there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of similar
situations which do not receive either the media’s or the humane community’s
The owner of Pepie, James Schuler of Dunkirk, refused offers of free
fencing, free insulated shelter and offers of volunteers to walk Pepie. As do many
people when challenged on their care of their children or pets, Mr. Schuler
used the existing lack of “standard of care” laws as a shield to insulate his
ego instead of Pepi’s cage. Dog pens should be a minimum of 150 square feet
and required to have at least three inches of insulation when the
temperature falls below freezing at 32 degrees.
The 2003 “standard of care” legislation enacted merely required a “
structurally sound shelter” or a $250 fine. As the recent NY Post article below
states, “an ice-cold metal cage” on concrete in 0 degrees is nonetheless “
structurally sound.” New York State is better than this.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Illinois bill would ban gas chambers for strays

Illinois bill would ban gas chambers for strays
By Angie Leventis
Friday, Feb. 15 2008

In Illinois' Jefferson County, most cats and dogs that are not adopted at the county animal control agency are put down by lethal injection, a standard practice at government operated shelters across the region. There is, however, the occasional dog that's deemed aggressive. And sometimes the facility gets too crowded, so large groups of animals are euthanized all at once. In these cases, the Mount Vernon shelter uses its gas chamber. "We get a great deal of animals," said supervisor Ruth Hughes. "Sometimes it's easier to use gas. It doesn't tie up my people."

WHATTTT did this....person, this example of flotsam....just say????????

But many animal rights activists consider euthanasia by gas cruel and are demanding that the method be banned in Illinois.

A state representative from Chicago is sponsoring a bill that would bar the use of carbon monoxide and tighten restrictions on who is allowed to perform the killing. The proposal is supported by about a dozen animal rescue shelters across the state. "(With gas), they don't die immediately, and being in an enclosure like that causes them stress and panic," said Jackie Spiker, cofounder of Hope Rescues, a "nokill" shelter in Edwardsville. Spiker sometimes gets animals from the Mount Vernon facility.
Maryland, New Jersey and New Mexico already ban gas chambers, according to Chicago English Bulldog Rescue Inc., the lead supporter of the bill. Illinois and Missouri permit this form of euthanasia but have stipulations on the type of gas and chamber used.

Randy Grim from Stray Rescue of St. Louis said he hopes the ban passes in Illinois รข€” and then catches on in Missouri. He'll be campaigning for the bill with his dog Quentin, called the "miracle dog" for his famous survival of the St. Louis gas chamber in 2003. The Basenji mix and seven other unwanted dogs were put in the chamber and gas was released. A shelter worker opened the door to find Quentin on top of a pile of dead dogs, wagging his tale. Grim and Quentin travel across the state and country, encouraging city and county shelters to stop gassing pets.

"We don't put criminals in gas chambers because it's inhumane," Grim said. "It's not the animal's fault that it was abandoned." Some animal advocates say it would be harder to ban the gas chamber in Missouri because lethal injections cost more than in Illinois a veterinarian must administer or supervise the shot in Missouri, whereas a trained euthanasia technician is permitted to do so in Illinois.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Dog Breeders Sue Over New Pa Law

Local suit says Pa. dog law unconstitutional

Intelligencer Journal
Published: Feb 10, 2009
By LORI VAN INGEN, Staff Writer

A federal civil lawsuit filed Monday by a Lancaster County law
firm alleges that Pennsylvania's recently revamped dog law is

Clymer & Musser law firm filed the suit on behalf of the
Professional Dog Breeders Advisory Council Inc., an organization
representing 400 dog breeders across Pennsylvania.

Nathan Myer, a Pennsylvania resident who raises dogs for
wholesale, and two out-of-state dog dealers are also plaintiffs
in the suit.

"Since the inception of House Bill 2525, now Act 119 of 2008,
the Professional Dog Breeders, along with other organizations,
have expressed sincere concerns about the constitutionality of
many of the new law's provisions," Bob Yarnall Jr. said in a
prepared statement. He is president of the American Canine
Association and a board member of the Professional Dog
Breeders Advisory Council.

"Unfortunately, the governor, in his desire to shut legitimate
commercial kennels down, included a host of constitutionally
prohibited requirements into a law that should be designed to
protect the health, safety and welfare of dogs — not unnecessarily
trample the rights of humans," Yarnall said.

State Sen. Mike Brubaker, chairman of the Senate Agriculture
and Rural Affairs Committee, said Monday he had not yet seen
the lawsuit.

"I look forward to reading the legal challenge in detail and
respond after I've read it and have been briefed on its validity."

Len Brown, lead attorney for the lawsuit, said his firm retained
an agriculture expert from Cornell University to evaluate the law.

"(The expert's) conclusion is that, once the law takes full effect
in October, people who raise dogs for profit" will find that the
law's effect is "basically ending their business," Brown said.
"That's a major problem."

Brown said many aspects of Act 119 violate the U.S. Constitution.
Among them are unfair treatment of out-of-state dealers, who,
under the new law must pay a $300 premium over the amount
paid by Pennsylvania dealers to obtain a dealer license from the
state Department of Agriculture.

This violates the clause of the U.S. Constitution that gives the
U.S. Congress sole authority to regulate interstate commerce, he said.

Another issue is equal treatment.

"The person who has 26 dogs and sells one to a pet store shouldn't
be treated in a more strict way than someone who has 200 dogs
and never sells one to a pet store," Brown said. "Clearly, the
Legislature is targeting commercial kennels."

A third issue is the manner in which kennels are shut down, he said.

The suit alleges that when a cease-and-desist order ends all
business transactions of a kennel, the owner is out of business
without any meaningful opportunity to be heard or to appeal the
decision, violating the due process clause of the 14th Amendment.

The lawsuit also alleges the law violates the Federal Privacy Act
by requiring people seeking a kennel license to submit their
Social Security numbers on the applications.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Conn. Judge makes Bad Decision in Animal Abuse Case

I was about to sit down and write about the atrocious decision our Connecticut courts made in the Jay Baldwin animal abuse case. In fact, one of our past volunteers, Donna Ploss, has become very interested in legislation concerning animals, and in particular, the animal abuse laws. So, I asked her to send me some information about Baldwin and how the decision came about.

Baldwin basically walked free after committing some pretty heinous crimes against cats. I was interested in what she would uncover and how Connecticut allowed this to happen.

I knew Donna had talked with Irene Hudobenko of Ansonia, who was one of the people duped by Baldwin. But I was surprised this morning to find a letter from her to Helping Paws, which gave me even more information. My Little Boy was an eight-week-old tiger kitten who was adopted with his brother, Chance. Unfortunately, it was to Baldwin, and one of the kittens was unknowingly handed a death sentence as he left their first home. The other kitten made it back to Irene, but will be traumatized for the rest of his life.

Baldwin, 57, of Ansonia, claimed to have lost his beloved cat, and wanted to adopt the two tiger kittens together. He talked a good talk and seemed to Irene to be a very caring man, knowing a lot about cats and appearing to be very honest and friendly. In fact, Hudobenko had turned away several people before Baldwin applied to adopt the two kittens. Little did she know that by going forward with this particular adoption, she was sealing their fate.

“He saw an ad for my two kittens in the local town paper and called to find out how many kittens there were,” Hudobenko said. He went to her house to see the kittens so he could see all of the cats and she could see how he interacted with them. He passed the test and took the kittens home.

Abuse discovered
Something bad was going on at the Baldwin home and some of the neighbors knew there had to be something done. After many complaints to the Ansonia Police Department, a search of the garbage-strewn and flea-infested Woodbridge Avenue apartment was finally done. There they found nine cats and kittens, as well as several birds in horrendous condition.

Four of the felines were so badly neglected and abused, they had to be euthanized. Sadly enough, the kitten Hudobenko had lovingly called My Little Boy was one of them. Irene’s letter to me explained her kitten was killed by blunt trauma to the head. Baldwin was evicted less than a week after the gruesome discovery.

At that time, the authorities asked him if he had any more cats or kittens. He vehemently denied it. And yet when the landlord went into the apartment, they found two more cats. Baldwin could not stop his cruel and abusive ways to animals. He was arrested and pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of animal cruelty. Bond was set at $10,000. Shockingly, it was later reduced by Judge Karen Nash-Sequino.

Her reasoning? Because “the kitten didn’t have any broken bones.”

Slap on wrist
There was a trial of sorts, and we animal lovers were feeling quite hopeful that justice would finally be served for these poor animals. After defense attorney Jonathan Gable’s theory that My Little Boy had died of ingesting rat poison was disproved by a second autopsy, Baldwin changed his not guilty plea and took a deal, entering the Pretrial Diversion Program. This program is nothing but a glorified accelerated rehabilitation program for mentally ill criminals and it allowed Baldwin to walk free while being monitored.

After two years, his record will be expunged, as if this heinous crime never took place. This is a travesty that shows our state considers the lives of animals not worthy of the protection they deserve. This judge had a chance to make a difference, and in my opinion, she really blew it. I am ashamed of our justice system and especially that a woman on the bench could allow this to happen.

Connecticut General Statutes define animal abuse as: “Any person who maliciously and intentionally maims, mutilates, tortures, wounds or kills an animal.” It goes on to say anyone found guilty of animal cruelty “shall be fined not more than $5,000 and imprisoned not more than 5 years or both.” But that didn’t happen in Baldwin’s case. Because animals are still considered possessions in Connecticut, it is up to the discretion of the judge and prosecutor to make animal abuse a felony. This judgment is one more incident to further my belief animals are second-class citizens here in Connecticut, and cats are way down the totem poll.

Irene’s heartbreaking letter to me asked that all rescue groups write down Baldwin’s name and description, including all of the aliases he is known to have used. We must make sure he is never allowed to own another animal. It is obviously going to be up to us because our laws didn’t do much good.

People must act
With the ringing in of the New Year comes the change in command at the state legislature. It is time for all of my readers to become involved. The animal abuse laws need to be more clearly defined, making any animal abuse a felony, with strict jail time and fines. It is obvious to me that leaving the decision up to the judges and prosecutors is not working. State residents need to be the voice of the animals. I need all of you to write to your local representatives and tell them animal abuse will not be tolerated. Remember, until the laws are changed, animals will continue to die needlessly.

Our animals cannot speak for themselves. It is up to us.

Rene Knapp writes Pet Talk, which appears in The Sunday Bulletin. Reach her at